Ruta Spondylus

The coastline road  from Salinas up towards Manta used to be called the Ruta de Sol (Sun route) but was changed to reflect the fact that there was more than just sun to see along the route. Thursday morning we decided to rent a car from nearby Budget Rent a Car here in Salinas.  The decision to brave the roads of Ecuador and the interesting and aggressive driving practices of the Ecuadorian drivers was not made lightly. I have been watching and observing from buses, taxi’s, three wheeled moto taxi’s, three wheeled bikes, water taxi’s the driving habits and felt that as long as I could act like I had a semi-controlled road rage at all times I would be able to handle the driving. Not real cheap, the car rental for a teeny beeny car was $81 for 24 hours. I tried to forgo the insurance advising the rental agent that I had coverage through my credit card but that was a no go, you want the car, you pay the insurance.

So, now outfitted with a car, we got all packed up with a basic plan to head up as far as Puerto Lopez approximately 150 km. up the coastal road. Leaving Salinas towards Libertad, I quickly got into the groove by honking my horn indiscriminately at any driver trying to butt into my lane or what I thought was my lane as there is apparently some discretion as to where the lane starts and stops. A few more honks at the lowly pedestrians trying to cross in front of me to let them know that I was in a vehicle and unlike Canada – I had the right of way – watch out!.

Driving through Libertad, saw a sign saying Ruta del Sol & Ballenita so off we went soon realizing that when they changed the name to Ruta Spondylus they also changed the road but did not bother taking down the old signs. I was able to deduce this fairly quickly from my many years of law enforcement experience with Parks Canada. That and the road changed to a dirt road leading up to some cow pasture. There is however a very nice viewpoint at Ballenita so all was not lost. A bit of backtracking and onto  the new Coastal Highway ( 2 lanes in each direction).  Great road and fantastic vistas of the coastline, fishing boats and large tanker freighter type ships.

Great! a police Stop Check, as we are slowing down for the check I am advised by Gwen and Pat that perhaps they should have brought their passport or a copy? I agreed that it probably would be a good idea in the future but that I had mine and I should be able to pick them up in jail at a later time should it become necessary. Their relieve was evident as we were waved off (I don’t think the police wanted to deal with Gringos who would waste their time trying to speak Spanglish). From there it was one small town after another with a few larger centers thrown in. Some of the larger towns we passed through included San Pablo, Monteverde, Palmar and Ayangue. At Ayangue we took a small detour off the highway into the town and  grabbed some lunch and of course beer. Beautiful beach in a large bay filled with fishing boats. Cabanas on the beach and we stopped at one and ordered two plates of large battered shrimp and they were some of the best I have ever tasted ($7 for a full plate of large shrimp). We continued or drive up the coast and through many small towns and our next major stop was Montanita. Montanita is the most touristy place I have been to in Ecuador, full of tourists, shops, restaurants, bars, tour places, hotels, hostals, etc. etc. The beach is also very beautiful and is one of the best surf beaches in Ecuador. Montanita is know for its party type atmosphere and the client is mostly made up of people under the age of 30 from my observation. Neat town and I would go back but only to visit and not to stay in as there are many hostels close to and outside of Montanita that would give you some quiet time outside of the party atmosphere of Montanita.

Leaving Montanita behind we passed through Olon and noticed that from this point the dry desert look was quickly changing to much more lush vegetation  including a number of banana plantations.  Past Olon, another stop  this time at Ayampe where the road to the beach bottomed out our large Chevy “Spark” a number of times (glad I bought the insurance). Here, three to five foot waves enticed Gwen and Pat to go swimming – read – they had to pee. Nice beach, lots of fun but back to our travels. Passed another well known beach called Las Tunas, town of Salango and then our destination of Puerto Lopez.

There is not a lot to distinguish Puerto Lopez from many of the other medium sized towns but it does have a very nice beach, lots of fishing boats and it is a hub for many of the tours available to Isla de la Plata, scuba diving and Parque Nacional Machalilla. Rather then turn around and drive back we decided to get on a three wheeled moto-taxi and have the driver take us to some of the Hotels in the area to see if we could get a room. After our third try (it is busy season) we got the last room at Bella Hosteria Napoli for $20 / person. We were able to relax, enjoy some drinks and a nice dinner before heading to bed to conclude a long but very nice day.

Up early this AM to drive back to Salinas to turn in the car. A few stops for photos along some of the route, some more horn honking (mostly directed at me) but I sure scared the heck out of one skinny dog and three chickens. Of course we needed to fill up the car with gas before taking it back so into the gas station to replace the gas from the 300 km’s we drove – $10 – that’s it – actually $10.06 but the gas station guy told us to forget about it, either that or he was trying to get us to come back, I’m not sure what the waving meant.

Manana

Posted on December 28, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. How did your passengers enjoy the ride, Murray? What a lovely beach in Montanita. I wish I could just beam myself there for a visit. Miss you guys but I would miss your blog if you were here. Keith gave me some scratch and wins for Christmas and I won $12, then $50, then $2000. Thinking of getting a new bathroom sink and faucets for the other bathroom. What do you think, hermano, wanna help(or do it for a nominal fee)? We won’t talk about that just now–enjoy your vacation–extrano(~over n) a ustedes mucho(miss you guys a lot)

  2. Wow, that’s quite the little adventure. Nice views and beaches. Can’t wait to see the next adventure.

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