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Monday
Jul042011

It had been a while since we had been to a beach...

On a recent made up survey, the above sentence came out top of 'statements that annoy people reading a blog at home whilst friends swan about around South America'
Yep, we're on our way to another beach.
If it helps, the reality of this trip coming to an end is creeping in now; the cold hard truth that this cannot last forever, that (despite my drunken hatching of obscure plans to Min ('Who wouldn't buy my fresh lemonade') we do actually have to work a real job to get money. (still not convinced on this one but for now I will concede)

This is probably the reason that a beach appeals so much right now. Thoughts of what to do when at home are manifesting themselves whilst sitting on buses, 'What will happen if…' 'Should we…'

We need to slow this right down again, it's all fading a bit too fast.
Yep that's it, we need to head to a beach, to do nothing. Nothing means slow and slow means delatying having to deal with what comes next.

Thats what we'll do, nothing on a beach; the glorious sunshine, the calm crystal clear waters of the pacific, the white sand, one last surf…

****************

Nope.

We are in a grump.
It's grey and windy. The 'calm, crystal clear pacific waters' are slamming me from my 9 year olds' bodyboard (no adult surf boards anywhere to be seen) headfirst onto the dirty stoney excuse for a beach.
This, is not what it was supposed to be like. Damn you Ecuador. Damn you BenTen bodyboard.

You know what, every black, heavy, evil looking cloud has a silver lining. For us that came in the form of Iguana Cabins, Ayampe. Ayampe was a lot quieter than we expected. We'd hoped for sleepy, this village was positively comatose but it turned out to be a perfect pit stop and a place where we'd once again realise that some of the best experiences on a trip like this is simply wandering in a quiet town.

The iguana Cabins

If there's nothing to do I can think of worse places to be

Iguana was set around an fruit and herb garden with an abundance of hammocks and places to hang out.  Apart from us there was no one else to be seen.
With the weather terrible and the surf likely to tear even the gnarliest of dudes to shreds, there was nothing really to do other than to hang out.
Our budget decided that it agreed, it wanted to hang out there too, cheaply, this doing nothing malarky might actually just be what we needed.

As opposed to moving on, we decided to sit and write. Write and eat sand.

The cabins were run by a young but eccentric Colombian and his wife whose enthusiasm and wide-eyed nature got us thinking that maybe there was something up in those woods behind the hostel that he might have been smoking or munching on. Our host then told us that there was something up in those woods behind the hostel that he might be worth been smoking or munching on. We think.

In truth we're not sure, it all was said so quickly as happens with enthusiastic Colombians that due to our limited understanding of Spanish left us nodding and 'si'ing all the way back to our rooms. 'Did he say mushrooms?' 'Is he insane?' 'Or was he just telling us where to pick bananas?' '
Either way the guy was a very warm and happy chap. He and his family made us feel very much at home. So much so in fact that at one point on a Sunday we were asked to man the phone whilst they went out. 'If my mum calls tell her I'll be back later and I'll call her, if it's Roger tell him the car is on it's way' Now, I suppose to have understood these instructions I must now be grasping a fair but of Spanish but the prospect of answering the phones was somewhat daunting. Although a chat with 'mama' would have been alright.

Hammock living

Ayampe was a tiny town, a collection of houses behind the beach and another set back beneath the hills.
The best thing about staying in this town, with no other tourists in sight was that it meant more walking around and investigating. No guidebooks, no must-visit restaurants, just a whole load of empty local shacks where there was a chance of a gem of a cheap meal.

It turns out we found two places and they were both gems. One was a burrito restaurant with straight from the bush-chilli sauce that turned our to be hotter than the sun. The other, nothing more than a stall. Family-run doesn't do it justice. The family, from the 3 year olds playing to the grandad sat manning the salsa picante. It was here we were to discover the Ecuadorian delight of Corviche. Corviche is a ball of plantain/banana stuffed with fish, peppers and other unknown goodies and then deepfried. It was served accompanied by a tongue-numbingly hot salsa.

It was a highlight of the trip, making our through the village past families in hammocks and watching TV's outside to our favourite stall each evening. 'Beunos noches' allround and smiles a plenty, we'd sit outside as the light faded and place our order for 2 corviches and a cerveza each. We'd sit, pride of place on the plastic chairs, their thrones reserved for customers. We surounded by the whole family hanging out on the benches as they did every night we assumed, chatting, kids playing, waiting for a customer to come along.

Our limited conversation was filled with laughter. As we paid our miniscule bill and said our goodbyes we realised how brilliant it it sometimes to be in the middle of nowhere with nearly no money. What an experience, no expensive 'you just must eat there' meal could rival our stall in the little village of Ayampe.

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