Culture shock!
After a 7-8 hour bus ride, we arrived in Montanita, a beachside town on the coast of Ecuador. Long white beaches, ocean waves suitable for a large number of surfers and a playground for locals and tourists alike.

When I thought of Ecuador I envisioned simple towns, quiet life and sparse landscape. While true of some of Ecuador, this place is different. Crowds, loud music, nightlife, drinking, pollution and rampant tourism. It didn't help we also arrived during Mardi Gras and a surfing competition weekend.

Constant interruptions from beach vendors and empty booze bottles complete the picture here.

Contrasting this is the native beauty of this place. Pelicans fly over us in a V formation. The beach line in the morning is stunning. The ocean is blue with crashing waves.
Our Hostel has small rooms (such are Hostels) but comfortable with nice bathrooms and air-conditioning. Breakfast once again is included and as good as any high-end restaurant back home. The owner, Diego, waits on our every need, ensuring we have a good time.

The town itself is a zoo of tourists and stalls of Chinese-made tourist trinkets. It's so busy it's difficult to walk through some streets. Once we put the crowds and their impact aside, this is truly a beautiful place. The closest I can compare it to are the islands of Thailand. Diners on the beach, amazing sunsets and friendly people. Not so bad an ending to a trip of a lifetime.

A final, but oh so important word:This lady, Cathy Eberts of Walnut Grove Travel, clearly worked long and hard on every detail to make this trip memorable, fun and worry free. Hotels were excellent, locations and tours exceptional and every connection between locations happened without a hitch.Add to this, a beautiful and caring friend that took selfless care of any and all issues and you'll find a tour group that owes Cathy a deep debt of gratitude. Thank you so much for making this dream a reality. Keep smiling.

Our trip blogger: Keith Seibold