Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paradise Lost!

It goes without saying that we love Cuenca, but as California "kids" we also love the ocean. Believe me, it was a hard decision where to buy -- the coast or in Cuenca. But my hubby convinced me that paradise is just a few hours away. I really didn't buy that because we've always taken the four-hour bus ride to Guayaquil, spent the night there and then took another bus to Jipijapa the next day and Mr. Toad's wild ride to Puerto Lopez. It was a two-day journey!

Mark was determined to convince me that it could be done in five hours! And guess what? He was right!

This is how we did it:

We took TAME Airlines (total of $167.56 for both of us) to Guayaquil. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at Juan Valdez Cafe at the airport in Guayaquil after a 45 minute plane flight and then took a $3.00 taxi ride to the Terminal Terrestre (bus station). Actually the bus station looks more like a shopping mall with buses on the side.
TAME Airlines to Guayaquil
Juan Valdez at Guayaquil Airport
Tickets are bought on the ground floor of the terminal so we headed to CLP gate #83 (Cooperativa Libertad Peninsular) to Olon (Ruta del Sol). The cost of the ticket was $5.75 per person. Fortunately, when we purchased the tickets the bus was leaving so we took the escalator up to the third level and got on the bus as the last passengers. Our luggage was boarded and we were given tags to retrieve them.

First Floor of Guayaquil Bus Station -- CLP #83
Tickets for the CLP -- hang on to them. They will collect them on the bus!
Terminal Terrestre in Guayaquil -- Shopping Mall with buses on the side

Thoroughly modern CLP bus line with movie and snacks
Luggage retrieval tags for CLP -- hang on to them! 
Crazy Montañita where most everyone gets off!
We always enjoy the people watching in Montañita.

And more passengers get off at the popular Montañita.

End of the Road -- Olon (a few kilometers from Montañita).

Olon Bus Station (final stop). 
 You're in for a treat with the CLP bus line. It's more like a plane ride with air conditioning, movies, food and beverage service and a steward that keeps everyone happy! There's even a display that tells you when the bathrooms are occupied. The bus ride goes along the Ruta del Sol (Spondylus Route) so there's lots to see. The trip takes approximately two hours to Olon. But first the bus stops in Montañita where nearly the entire bus empties out. Next and final stop is Olon (a few kilometers north of Montañita).

From Olon we waved down a taxi (total cost $20) to take us approximately 50 minutes to Puerto Lopez, right to the doorstep of the Mandala Hosteria. Our taxista was so warm and friendly; he gave us a talking tour as we passed by several points of interest. You can also catch a bus in Montañita (the green one) that will take you to the new bus terminal in Puerto Lopez. But our goal was to see how fast we could make it to Puerto Lopez. It was just a little bit past noon when we arrived at the Mandala. I was in shock! We did it (one day -- 5 hours).

Since we arrived so early I was confused the rest of the day. I kept thinking we needed to eat dinner when we hadn't even eaten lunch. Of course, I wanted to head right to Los Frailes (20 minutes north) because it was a sunny day. Normally during June, July and August it's overcast, cloudy and very few sunsets. However, because of the El Niño effect, there was sun every day, gorgeous sunsets and no humidity. In other words, it was paradise!

Private Beach at Mandala
Our balcony overlooking the Ocean -- Galapagos Suite 
Galapagos Suite 
First of many sunsets at Mandala
Mandala's Private Beach

Entrance to Mandala
View of the Ocean from our Balcony
After settling into our room (Galapagos Suite) -- with a gorgeous view of the ocean -- we walked to the Point and then had dinner at the Mandala (Shrimp in Garlic Sauce -- amazing!). We turned in early because the next day we were going to Los Frailes and Paradise Lost (aka Playa de Pombo).

Los Frailes from the Mirador
Paradise Lost!

Until next time...hasta luego!

Connie & Mark

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