Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Los Frailes

Mark is in school teaching English at CEDEI, but I’m still back at the “beach" (in my mind, of course!). It’s only been a week since we returned from the coast and I'm already planning our next trip. If you only go to one place the whole time you’re in Ecuador, do not miss the pristine beach of Los Frailes. Some have gone so far as to call it the most beautiful beach on the Ecuadorian coast and I won’t argue with that!

After we arrived at Hosteria Mandala, we made arrangements to have a mototaxi take us to Los Frailes (20 minutes up the coast), or you can hop on a bus in Puerto Lopez for 40 cents.

The mototaxi was a fun ride, but a little bumpy when we got to the entrance of the park (cost: $2.00 per person). It felt more like a galloping horse than a taxi and it was a tad bit dusty. Our mototaxi “specialist” was Angel and he took us right up to the entrance of the beach and picked us back up at the designated time (3:00 p.m. – “en punto”).

The cost was $10.00 roundtrip. I wouldn’t have missed that experience for anything. If you haven’t ridden in a mototaxi, you’re in for a real treat (no diesel fumes and it’s naturally air-conditioned). Just keep your hands inside the “vehicle.”
The wonderful thing about staying in Puerto Lopez is you’re close to the main attractions: Isla de la Plata, Los Frailes, Isla Salango, and Agua Blanca.

Once at the entrance to the beach, there is a lovely “canteen” where you can buy souvenirs. I bought some lovely coral earrings and matching necklace ($2.00).

Bring a beach umbrella if you have one, beach towels, and a picnic lunch. Hosteria Mandala will pack up a wonderful lunch for you and also send you on your way with beach towels (as many as you need).

Los Frailes is part of the Machalilla National Park which is a tropical dry forest along the central coast of Ecuador. The high temperatures, humidity and low precipitation make for an interesting mix of flora and fauna, mainly cactus, the Cockspur Coral Tree, and a variety of birds which makes it more of an oasis than a desert!
Mark and I decided to jump in the water first and enjoy the gentle surf. I stayed in longer and didn’t want to come out because the temperature was a perfect 72 degrees and felt so refreshing. I would caution you on cloudy days to slather on the sunscreen and keep reapplying. I got so carried away that I forgot to reapply after I got out of the water. I’m still peeling off layers of skin—especially on my feet.

After a light lunch, we explored the rocky inlets on both sides of the horseshoe-shaped beach and discovered a multitude of conch shells, several of which already had inhabitants which literally walked away on us!

I found a total of 20 whole sand dollars which were brown, then turned green and now are bleaching themselves white in the sun (thanks to our balcony).  It was low tide while we were there, so we felt free to explore all the inlets and caves. However, I would caution you not to do this at high tide!

We had an hour before Angel was to pick us back up, so we decided to give “El Mirador” a try. The sign said it was a 20-minute walk, but I would allow 30 minutes because there’s so much to see on the way up the dusty steps, including the entire Ecuadorian coastline, exotic lizards, birds, and lots of cactus.

There are no retaining walls or fences, so be careful to take pictures from a distance and not perch yourself on the edge of the cliff as it’s a long way down.

Bring lots of water! I ended up pouring the entire bottle over me because I got overheated; wear a sun hat, and put on more sunscreen than you think you will need.

At the top of “El Mirador” you will be rewarded with a panoramic view like none other. I was so busy oohing and ahhing, I didn’t realize there were other folks sitting on the look-out stand who had come to mediate. Mark shooshed me and I too had become quiet. It’s was windy, so be sure to hang on to your hat and other valuables.

It’s also a great place to catch the birds in flight and to enjoy a time of quiet reflection. After taking several videos and probably 100 pictures of the same coastline, we headed back down. I wore my running shoes and was thankful that I did because the steps can be a little slippery and it’s easy for your feet to get caught between the steps.

We made the climb up and back within an hour which was perfect. Angel was waiting for us right on time at 3:00 p.m. and we made it back to see a gorgeous sunset at Puerto Lopez where we dined on the veranda at Hosteria Mandala.

Rest assured, we’ll be back to Los Frailes!

Until next time...hasta luego!

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Palmer said...

You mentioned in your post that Mark is teaching English at CEDEI? My wife and I have made some connections at different schools for teaching English with a TEFL or equivalent certificate, but if you have any information please let us know if you can? We are looking into something part-time and we have college diplomas not university as some school request(some just a TEFL certificate is all that matters) The few schools we have talked with seems to be 20-30 hours a week and 400-600 a month wages. We will be purchasing our home/condo and have savings so the wages in this range are enough. Thanks for the great blog posts.

Connie Pombo said...

Hi Palmer,
Yep, you're correct! CEDEI requires a 4-year college degree, TEFL certification and minimum of 100 hours. Mark will be working 20 hours a week, but I believe they just increased their hourly wage to adjust for Cuenca's cost of living increase. Mark does not have a university degree, but a college degree. They hired 45 teachers for this school year, so it's best to get in before the beginning of the "fall semester." Hope this helps! All the best to you both and your new adventure.

Palmer said...

Have you heard anything about The Canadian House Centre in Cuenca? http://www.thecanadianhousecenter.com/schools-in-ecuador/cuenca/
Its located at General Torres 17/12 y Av. Héroes de Verdeloma, but i'm not sure excatly where this is on a map. Let me know if you have any information. My email is also ecuadorpawpost@gmail.com. Thanks.

Connie Pombo said...

Hi Palmer...sent an e-mail your way!

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