Our time in magnificent Montañita
Our time in coastal hippie haunt Montañita may be defined by its polarities: days full of sweet sunshine relaxation...nights full of lunar-lit, dance-crazed fiestas.
Waking one morning to the sound of crashing ocean waves, we crawled out from beneath our pastel mosquito nets and threw open the curtains. Gazing upon an enthusiastic morning sea, we were ecstatic to see a dolphin pod swimming just off the beach...it was a spectacular way to begin our day.
We scurried to embrace the breaking sun, nuzzling our bodies into the soft, white sand and sluggishly loving life. Once we were thoroughly cooked to a crisp (the Equatorial sun made swift work of us), we cruised the town for a late lunch. We settled at a street side cafe and watched the Montañita world go by - half dressed men in dreadlocks, boys on bicycles, surfboards for sale, barefoot backpackers, and ´cigarettes´ of questionable origin...a scene set to the wafting, oddly harmonious mix of competing reggae and cumbia tunes.
We eased into our seats - (´I don´t think I´ve ever sunburned this part of my bum before!` Kelsey said) and lazily sipped divinely fresh fruit juice. We swiftly drew the attention of a friendly waiter, who sat with us throughout our meal. As he became engrossed in teaching Kelsey spanish language vulgarities, I was drawn into giving a highly impromptu English lesson to one of his friends. My ´estudiante´ and I spent the greater part of an hour or two simultaneously exchanging giggly grammar instruction, while highly inappropriate language erupted on occasion from Kelsey (much to the entertainment of all Ecuadorians in the vicinity). It was an utterly random, fabulously genuine experience. Between vowels and vulgarities, it was simply the best lunch break ever.
In spite of our inarguably scarlet skin, we returned to the beach for a bit longer. However, when a heated sand futbol match threatened to overtake us, (and a nearby dog attempted to urinate on Kelsey), we decided it was time to rest before meeting our new Ecuadorian friends for happy hour and a (supposedly) friendly match of Jenga.
Our amigos proved to be extremely formidable Jenga opponents, and I´ve never before been so stressed out by a pile of wooden blocks. I lost two rounds for our team, bringing us to a debt of $8, and the overly competitive side of me consented to a final revenge match...we could erase half our debt, or bring it to a whopping $12. Scoff if you will, but I can´t properly relay the intesity of the competition - the Jenga tower more than doubled in size, pocked by more holes than architecturally possible. I was utterly dumbfounded by our amigos...I never suspected these men could remove Jenga blocks with such grace or extreme concentration - nimbly skirting around the table for optimal angle, gingerly removing each block with remarkable dexterity. If the tower trembled, we gasped collectively...our tummies fluttering with each Jenga jiggle. We competed with such Jenga ferocity as has never been seen before! Unfortunately, Kelsey soon brought all our Jenga dreams tumbling down... no doubt all those in the vicinity questioned how such a game could so thoroughly seize our attentions. I handed over the $12 and consented utter defeat. Calling a truce, we decided to go out dancing.
We cruised into the bambo-fenced construction of the ´club´ - marveling at how wonderfully appropriate it seemed for Montañita. A bonfire graced the middle of a soft sand floor - furling deliciously dense woodsmoke into the open night air. An extraordinarily international crowd grooved to an offkey cover band, and it wasn´t long before the crisp evening air was stirred alive by a DJ´s booming American dance music. Fuelled by the pure energy pulsing through the crowd - and remnants of our sun-induced beach euphoria - we danced the night away.
Of course, Kelsey and I woke up the next morning feeling half-decomposed. Our exhaustion-induced misery was exacerbated as our increasingly angry full-body sunburns scraped against our backpacks. As we boarded our bus to Cuenca - far from the spectacular Ecuadorian coast - we winced our goodbyes to wild and wonderful Montañita.