Yesterday I woke up early sharing bunk beds in a hostel on the beach of Montanita! We made a quick decision to take a trip to Montanita Beach on our way to the town of Puerto Lopez Saturday. We arrived late yesterday evening and enjoyed Montanita’s relaxed way of life including local surfistas, tourists, street vendors, live music, and its exciting but relaxing nightlife. According to some of the friends we made in Bahia and Canoa, Montanita is a good beach for surfing and to meet people from all over the world. This turned out to be quite true. The beach was very similar to Canoa with its laid back attitude but was much bigger in size with more restaurants, stores, and bars. The beach town, Puerto Lopez, was our destination today to take a boat tour to the Isla de la Plata and to see the magnificent humpback whales! We spent yesterday shopping and looking around Montanita and left in the afternoon by bus to Puerto Lopez where we checked in later at night at Mantaraya Lodge, a nice resort about 10 minutes from the beach of Puerto Lopez. Last night we rested up in preparation for our tour today. Waking up today, I had slight apprehensions of the possibility of getting boat sickness and not seeing whales. Neither of which happened! We walked up the coast seeing its beautiful cliffs to the left end of the beach and fishing boats wading in the bay. Our group for this tour consisted of our group of seven, an Ecuadorian couple, four girls from Germany, and two boys from France plus our three tour guides. We set off for the hour-long boat ride, hair blowing in the wind and hearts set on seeing whales. On our way to the Isla de la Plata, we spotted a whale jumping high out of the water and swimming along side the boat! Its dark and bumping skin would reveal itself as it glided through the water. It would disappear for a while teasing us and making us turn our heads round and round not expecting where to see it again and then shoot up out of the water with all of its hugeness and wonder. I decided not to bother with taking pictures and let other on the boat have the job of capturing the moments. I wanted to soak in all of the memory and just enjoy watching the quick glimpses of the beautiful animal through my own eyes, not through a lens. Slowly the creature disappeared and we continued our adventure to the island in the distance.
Reaching the island, we saw its steep cliffs and thousands of birds flying around, diving into the water and resting themselves on the islands edges. Our boat joined a few other boats on a small reachable beach where we began our walking tour of the island. This island’s terrain was a tropical dry forest with tall grasses, sparse trees and bushes, and some low growing flowers with colors of yellow, purple, and white. Its coast had rocky cliffs and steep hills making the views from the top of the island amazing. The weather was overcast, which made it a perfect temperature to be climbing the paths up, down, and around the tour walk. On our walk, we saw numerous blue-footed boobies paired off in couples for mating. We learned how to tell the difference in their calls and by looking at the size of their eyes. Their blue feet and silly way of balance made them a fun attraction to run into along the trail. We also saw a crowd of Frigatebirds resting on nests and flying along the cliffs. The males had their bold red chests puffed out attracting the females. After viewing the sights and birds, we made our way back down the island’s cliffs to board the boat for lunch and snorkeling along the island’s waters. We ate delicious watermelon and pineapple. Next, we enjoyed cheese and tuna sandwiches. They explained that the water would be hard to see many fish or animals for today because of the current and turning up of sediment. I opted out of snorkeling because of the cold water. From the boat, we watched people snorkeling and discovering the water. While hanging out on the front of the boat, we gazed at the beautiful island and the ocean’s waves crashing the cliffs. We also spotted angel fish with bright orange, black, and white colors and sea turtles with moss-covered backs. After about an hour, we began our adventure back to Puerto Lopez. We ended up seeing many splashes in the distance with whale tales flapping in the air. We also had whales following along side our boat making noise and spraying water out into the air. The best moment was seeing a pair swim together in a sweet rhythm along side the boat, jumping out of the water every so often to show size. The tour guides said we were very lucky to see the amount of whales we did on the boat ride. We were very excited with our luck with the whales and our tour of the island.
We arrived back to the coast just in time to look around for a place to eat near the beach and prepare to be picked up by taxi to take the three-hour drive back to Bahia for the night. We were all very exhausted on the ride home. Once arriving to Bahia, some of us showered, but most of us went right to bed with the thought of having to get up early for our morning schools the next day.