Last weekend was Boys/Girls weekend here in Ecuador. The girls went to Montanita (check out Living the Good Life for Danielle's amazing adventure. I'm so proud of her) and the dudes went exploring in Machala and Isla Jambeli. Machala is the banana capitol of the world and Isla Jambeli is a favorite vacation destination for the locals of southern Ecuador.
Knowing the girls would be doing what they do best, spend $, we chose to travel light for as little as possible. Many luxuries were left behind such as a change of clothes, surf gear and expensive camera's. It was all about cheap transportation, $5 hostels, meals for $3.50 or less and and creative entertainment. Here's the breakdown:
3 1/2 hr bus ride to Machala: $4.20
Boat ride to Isla Jambeli: $2.40
Hostel: $5 the first night. $6 the second night. What did we get for an extra $1? A towel and blankets.
Most expensive dinner: $3.50 which included chicken feet, liver and heart all in a tasty soup. Chicken breast with rice, beans and fried plantains. Only Mark can comment on how the feet tasted. Rumor has it the feet are all skin and bones, no meat. Also takes a little more time to digest.
A night of pool: $2 an hr.
Entrance in to the local Museum: $.50.
Meeting Jonathan from Machala and having him show us around, leaving the casino with more money than when we entered, swimming, walking on the beach, climbing the lighthouse, building a raft out of bamboo in an effort to get to Peru, fire jumping over the midnight bonfire (only 1 shoe was melted) and telling naughty jokes: $Free!
Check it out:
Machala: City square.
Ahead is the small port for Isla Jambeli. The boat ride from Machala is beautiful as you navigate through this narrow waterway and coast lined mangroves.
Much of the west facing coastline was covered with wood and trash. Ecuador has been drowned in rainfall, much more than recent years which has caused this mess on the beach. All of the rivers have swelled and flushed fallen branches and trash from many mountain villages into the ocean. Unfortunately for this island community, much of it ends of on their beaches.
Piles of wood are gathered for nightly bonfires to help clean of the beach front.
This was our view from our hostel window.
A locals residence along the water.
At this billiard, a few boards were placed over the sand with a pool table set somewhat evenly on top. We played a few hours of pool while the waves broke only 40 yards away.
Fishing boats ready to go out for the daily catch.
In an effort to paddle to Peru, we thought we would make good use of the driftwood collected on shore and build a raft. We collected bamboo and plastic strips as the experienced sailor, Brian, tied the raft together with his "fancy" boat knots. After long goodbye's, hugs and messages given for my wife, I ventured into the water with my new raft and 1 coconut. The first and only problem to this expedition was the most disastrous. The raft was not big enough and sank under my weight. At about 20 yards off shore, I was forced to retreat and head back to shore. To add to my crushed dreams of Peruvian explorations, in my battle to stay afloat on my "mini" raft, it took one last thing from me as we separated. My wedding ring. As the raft sank, I was committed to ride it down to the bottom of the sea, which was about 5 feet deep at that point. When a large 2 ft wave knocked me off, the ass end of the raft reached out and the plastic cording stripped my ring off my finger. After much time combing the bottom of the ocean floor with help from my compassionate friends, we were forced to concede my ring and our raft to Mother Ocean. Peru would have to wait until June for my arrival.
The gentleman in the orange cap was the owner of this museum. It was his private collection of shells and marine life from around the world. It was one of the coolest museum's I've been in as it represented this one man's passion for the sea.