We’ll be coming around the mountain when we come!
After zig zagging our way through the winding highway and piercing into the moist vibrant vegetation of la selva (the jungle) we got closer to Ayampe. We were told to keep our eyes peeled for beautiful islands to our west. As Los Ahorcados, the islands, came into view we knew we had found it!
We were treated like family upon our arrival at Bungalows La Buena Vida. The proprietors, Marilyn & Keith, greeted us like old friends and all of a sudden we felt at home. The place is beautifully tucked into the hillside where it gets swaddled by the sea breeze. They have 6 bungalows (and counting), a restaurant/bar, and a sweet lounge area complete with HD TV, wi-fi, and complimentary water for guests. There were beautiful creatures strolling around premises, such as Dakota, their goofy, yet protective, thick-headed, droppy-lipped, rock chewing, tug of warring 7 1/2 year old white boxer. Also Mishi (the cat) could be found lounging on a thatch roof or patrolling the perimeter. This feline had a knack for lizard gobbling and tarantula tormenting, with the appetite of his canine counterpart
The waves were big, maybe 10 feet+, super chunky and unpredictable. However, some of the sets seemed to unexpectedly mush into a glassy face. This was not prime time swell or tourist season, but with the empty lineup and swell in the water the dudes paddled out. The guys were trading waves left and right as I snapped some photos. A two hour surf session melted into lunch. Some surf movies were watched in the lounge, and then pizza was devoured next door. This was followed by a luxurious night’s sleep on firm tempurpedic mattresses in a fresh and modern room complete with hot, reliable showers. Our next morning in Ayampe, we feasted on La Buena Vida’s traditional American breakfast and then ventured out to the beach. The beach was covered with rocks of all shapes and sizes and surrounded by vast mountainous cliffs and swirling seas.
The next day we all partied for Keith’s birthday. Ecuadorian parties are the best! We dined on arroz con pollo and consumed Pony Malta (a sweet, malty toasted marshmallow flavored soda). Family and townspeople started to fill in the party and we transitioned to drinking Clubs and Pilseners, the Ecuadorian beers. We were served mini ham and tuna sandwiches paired with potato salad and empanadas. Then came the shots, some of coconut rum, others of tequila. After the birthday cake, I was stuffed and ready for another peaceful night’s rest.
Blue skies were dangling above us as we greeted the new day. A group trip to Rio Chico, a left-hand point break 10 minutes away, was in order. The grounds of Rio Chico were full of bright, colorful rocks, stained glass, ocean trinkets and flowers galore. I explored the rock outcrop which was teeming with life.
I spotted various sea urchins and slugs, shells and stars. The water was perfect, clear, blue and warm. My skin was beginning to crisp to perfection under the blazing Ecuadorian sun. Lunch was served, fish with peanut sauce, rice and plantains, at the Blue Footed Booby Restaurant on premises. After we dined, we dipped in a sulfuric mud bath, said to cure what ails you. From the mud pit we climbed up the stairs, over the bridge, and on to the observatory deck overlooking the bay. Here, I was feeling on top of the world.
As many do, we extended our stay in Ayampe, there’s no place we would rather be. During this time we pondered life, dreams, and the future. Maybe this is where our destiny lies? A radical turn occurred in our minds as we decided to shift our path in the direction of Ayampe.
Fast forward a couple of days (after rousing festivities in Guayaquil with our new found friends, Marilyn and Keith, and a 32 hour bus ride from Guayaquil to Lima) and we were back in Dulles International Airport through customs and immigration with all of our luggage in hand. “Welcome home,” said a passport control officer. As we drifted back to reality we reflected on the miles we had covered over the past month’s journey. From here, we shifted our lives path to return us to our happy place. After all, there’s no place I’d rather be.