Montañita – First Impressions

Montañita is a cute little surfing town buzzing with party energy about 2 miles north of Kamala. It’s a nice walk to do in the morning, (or a nice run if you’re one of the crazy athletic people in our CELTA group) and today the roar and the smell of the surf was calling me. Luckily for me, being that soy muy perezosa, a nice Ecuadorian guy on a motorcycle picked me up and drove me up the beach to town. The stretch of beach between Manglaralto, a little fishing village about half a mile south of Kamala, and Montañita can feel like a bit like a road. People use it to travel back and forth, not only by foot, but by truck and motorbike. As we buzzed down the sand towards Montañita, a line of pelicans formed a line over the water along side of us. They flew so low that they almost touch the crest of the waves swelling below them, then swooping up at the last possible moment before the water crashed down on them.

Montañita itself has a crazy vibe. In the morning, it feels like lots of other little villages in lots of costal areas of the Pacific. Friendly locals cooking and doing laundry, kids playing in the streets on their way to school, and little one room shops that sell everything under the sun opening for business. But when you look a little closed you notice the little differences. The streets near the beach are clustered with abandoned carts. At night, their proprietors return and each one becomes a fully functioning bar that caters too the glut of partying backpackers, hippies, and surfers that crash here. It’s like a whole busy outdoor market, but where every stand sells only cocktails. In the morning hours these carts stand vacant, evidence what makes this little village different.

Once the day gets later, all the waikis emerge from their campgrounds or hostels, which are ubiquitous and an awesome aesthetic mash of hippy-latino-polynesian-southasian-surfer styles. The village starts to look like a big hippie festival 2 or 3 days in. The streets are full of partiers, and young vagos selling their handmade jewelry and surf lessons to ‘custies’ for beer and hostel money. There are people walking up and down the streets with baskets of sandwiches, empanadas, and baked goods, both the normal and ‘happy’ kinds, (be careful not to mix them up). There are people who will braid your hair, give you dreadlocks, paint henna on you, or even give a real tattoo, as you sit their on the curb. The atmosphere is chaotic, but jovial and friendly. You Bonnaroo and Burning Man people know what I’m talking about. All in all, very cool vibes, though I don’t recommend trying to get any sleep while you’re there.

Original version published January 13, 2011, on tumblr as “Estoy sana otro vez”.

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