Around the area

Trip Start Feb 05, 2005
Trip End Mar 30, 2005

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In Brazil there was Jericoacoara. Peru has Mancora. I find Montanita to be similar to so many backpacker havens around the world. The town is home to only a couple hundred locals, while tourists from all over the world control the present culture.

The simple streets are lined with shops offering typical beach town souvenirs, while hippy street-vendors set up tables full of friendship bracelets and other handmade jewelery. Pretty neat, however, are the local surfboard shapers who will make you a custom balsa wood board for less than a foam from Southern California.

My timing to be introduced to this stretch of the Pacific Coast could not have been better. I arrived a week ago, just as a legit overhead swell was building. (Today, 7 days later, was the first day the surf has been only waist high.) I went out to surf Montanita the first chance I had. It was early morning, the water as warm as the equatorial air, and the line-up was tame. The ¨world class¨ right-hand point break is good and typically crowded with 15-20 or so sitting on the peak. I think it must hold a west swell better than the present south, as the ride was a steep drop with no shoulder. (I haven´t been out to the point since.) There is also a long stretch of beach-break where you can find an empty peak at any hour of any day.

That same afternoon, I caught a bus to head up north and check on an uncrowded left-hand point break I had heard about. I had a perfect view of countless empty beaches from the window of the bus as I went scrambling up the coastal road, each with all-too-perfect waves peaking along these otherwise quiet beach and point-breaks. ¨What a fluke,¨ I thought to myself. ¨There is no way these waves can consistently be that good and that empty.¨

The bus driver dropped me off at the side of the main road and I walked down a dirt path to the beach. In all my travels, this beach has come the closest to having it all. A lone hotel is at the end of the road, with the owners home up on a hill overlooking the water. Cottages are tucked into the tropical forested hillside with a restaurant/bar down on the sand. The left-hand point break was empty and nearly 75 meters long. Other than a couple on the sand, I was alone here in the center of the world. Driving back to Montanita, the same stretches of beach had the same empty perfect waves.

Over the next two days, I continued to go back to the magical beach, each time checking the surf along the way. To my surprise, the surf was consistant.

Asking the bus driver to stop along the side of the road, I went to surf a heavy beach-break on my way home one day. The stretch of beach was kilometers long, only two other guys out.

Most recently I´ve been at a right-hand point break located just outside of a small town of probably less than 100 hotel and no restaurants, but an incredible pastry shop. The wave is long and slow, and would be perfect for a 9´0¨, but my 7´3¨ fun-board has been handling it wonderfully. While I´ve never surfed this spot with anyone, there were about 5 kids out diving for octopus and shellfish today....ceviche. I stayed out until sunset, and then went in toward the beach where a ton of kids were messing around in the shallow water surf. For the next half hour, until dark, I let every one of them give my board a go. It was pretty impressive to see many of these kids who had never tried surfing before, stand up on their first wave.

So with the swell finally backing off for a few days, it looks like some quality time in my hammock with a good book may be in order...
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missmelis on

what a trip
hey sam . . . sounds like you are having the time of your life. i would have loved to have seen those kids playing with your surfboard and i would imagine a huge grin on your face sitting and watching them. reading about your trip is getting me excited for mine. i am leaving for australia and new zealand on the 31st of this month, probably about the time you are getting home. i'll be gone a month. we'll have to catch up and compare stories once we're back in town. safe travels and all my best. love & peace . . . melis

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