Ecuadorian delicacy in our school

The Montañita Spanish school offers more than just Spanish classes. It´s about getting to know the Ecuadorian culture, the people and the food!
Our teachers Ambar and Isabel took some time in the afternoon and showed some students how to make tasty Empanadas which are typical in South America!
Empanadas are stuffed pastry filled with cheese, meat, chicken or vegetables. You can find them everywhere in the streets all over South America. In every country they have their own way to make it and here in our school we learned how to prepare them in the Ecuadorian way.

Here is the recipe for you if you would like to give it a go yourself:

2 libras de harina*
1 royal* (una cucharadita pequena)
Mantequilla* (3 cucharadas)
Aceite* (un poco)
Sal al gusto
Agua tibia*

con queso y hierbas o carne molida

Forming the Empanadas

Form small round pieces in the size of a small plate and fill it, then carve it in. Close the edges and fry the Empanadas in a hot pan with oil or in the oven.
As you can see they are really easy to make and so delicious.
Enjoy it!

P1010301 (2)
So tasty these Empandas!

*harina -> flour
*royal -> baking powder
*mantequilla -> butter
*aceite -> oil
*tibia -> tepid



Time for some Xmas Fundrasing

Christmas is the time for presents, merrymaking and to give something back for the community. Montañita Spanish School organized a donation event to do something good for a poor school in a small village located 1 1/2 hours away from Montañita, far inland.

Two weeks ago we invited all the students to participate in a volleyball tournament for a little fee which we then donated to the school. We found a cozy place at the beach on the outskirts of Montañita. We had a volleyball field there, a bonfire and you could listen to the swoosh of the sea. It was amazing to see that nearly 30 people joined this donation event and that every single one of them have a heart for this community around Montañita.

From this money we bought some Christmas gifts for the children in school. The day before Christmas we went to this really small community far away from the next town surrounded by nothing than dry bushes and land. Cows and goats were running wild around the really poor houses. You could see that they deserve this donation more than anyone else. When we arrived there the children, parents and teachers were already waiting for us inside a small hall.

conga line dance

The children were all dressed up and did a little performance, danced and did a conga line for us. After the show the children received their presents. Toys, footballs, barbies and ornaments put a big smile on all their faces. We also shared a cake and soft drinks which completed this successful day.

This was a great way for our students to give back to the community that they are a part of, albeit even for a short time. A big Thanks to all the students who donated!

The children with their presents

The fact that we could donate so much and make so many children happy and the students gave with such a kind heart and helped contribute funds to the school make Montañita to a special place!

All the participants of that wonderful day

More than a holiday – A once in a lifetime experience in Montañita

Ysé Martins, a unique student froppm Belgium spent 12 weeks with us here at Montañita Spanish School. She just finished high school and is now travelling for almost one year to learn Spanish and English. She is super excited about the trip and will tell us about her time in Montañita.

What was your intention to come to Montañita Spanish School?

I always wanted to learn Spanish! I found Ecuador and Montañita Spanish School by a travel agency. I chose to learn Spanish (actually just other languages but Spanish first) because I think it’s such a pretty and helpful language. I saw the offer of Spanish and Surf and I said why not? I stayed here for 3 months because I started to learn Spanish here and I wanted to leave with a little knowledge of it. ( I even think it worked 😉 )
So I found this perfect school in a little town with sun, friends, beach and surf. I think I got filled with a lot experiences.

How was life here in Montañita?

It was like being in paradise. I felt like home with the teachers, the staff, the students and the host family. All so nice. I arrived here and lived in Monañita Cabañas for 2 months. Where I had an amazing time, Jacuzzi Tuesday, the big eating-table, the rooms (dorms for me) even with the company of mosquitos. Just everything was so nice.

WhatsApp Image 2017-12-09 at 12.43.52
Ysé and her host family

And then I moved to live in a family for my last month and it was awesome too! The kids were all really nice to me but so were the parents, I was well served in food (sometimes too well 😉 ). Far from the town so I could feel the tranquility.
My daily routine was simple here, at 8 or 10am class for 2 hours, then you go eat or cook with your friends. After lunch back to school for an other round of class from 1 to 3pm or 3 to 5pm. And in the pauses I would go to the beach, stay in the town or just hang out at the Cabañas. Then at night we had the parties, starting with a small game at the Cabañas, then heading to cocktail alley where we had an appointment with the fantastic Eugenio. After this we would go to Caña Grill or Lost Beach Club, really nice places to have fun. And the weekends were both, soft or hard, like doing 10 hours of bus to go to an other nice city of Ecuador, which is great or chilling days at the beach, surfing for a while.

What else do you want to mention about your time here?

It wouldn’t be fair to thank only the people from the school when they are so many other super locals. I met so many people during that stay and I think it’s the most important souvenir I can bring with me. I won’t forget any of those.
But anyway, thanks to MSS for succeeding at teaching me Spanish and making a lot of memories I’ll never forget.
The first part of my trip is already done and I haven’t seen the time flying so fast. Happy for the stay and sad to leave….


What do you take with you?

I would say experiences. A lot. Other cities-tours, barbecues, bonfires on the beach, cuba-libres, parties, Spanish classes for sure but not forget to mention surf, Spanish and friends.

What are you doing next?

Now I’m returning to Belgium to pass Christmas and New Year with my family. And after this, so the 9th of January I am heading to Canada, Whistler for an other 3 months. And finishing with South Africa, Capetown where I am volunteering. How awesome right?

Ciao Ysé! We will miss you!


Caimans, Waterfalls and Chocolate-making – Amazon adventures at its best

Our lodge in the Amazon

After arriving in The Amazon we got our breakfast in the Gaia Lodge and started our first activity. We went for a boat ride in the Amazon River where we got to see a lot of animals and activity of people. For example the Amazon River is full of gold and there are a lot of locals who are digging and searching for gold in the Amazon River. After an hour of boat ride we arrived at a spot where we could stop and have a swim in the Amazon.

Boat ride

It was a nice swim. At some point while swimming you’ll realize just how special the Amazon is. You’re swimming in a river that is located in a rain-forest that covers almost a quarter of the South American continent. Lovely. After our swim in the river we got back on the boat and drove back to the Gaia Lodge. While driving back we stopped at some point where we could watch different species of monkeys playing, climbing, relaxing and eating in the trees.

The second day started really early. We started a hike through the Amazon Jungle to go to a waterfall. The road to the waterfall was beautiful and scary at the same time. We saw insects we never knew they exist for example one that looked like a spider, cockroach and a grasshopper in one. The bats were flying during the day in 30 degrees sunny weather. After a long hike in hot weather we arrived at the beautiful waterfall where we had a nice swim to cool off. The water was cool and clear. We had the opportunity to stand on a mini cliff to jump into the deep water. The swimming gave us the energy to hike back to the Lodge again for our lunch.

Swimming in the Amazon river
Firsthand experience of the Amazon tubing!

After lunch we had a workshop how to make chocolate of the famous cacao beans of the Amazon. We started from scratch cooking, peeling and melting the cacao for a nice delicious hot chocolate. After the chocolate workshop we had a Ceramic workshop where we saw the most skillful potter of Ahuano making a ceramic pot. After the workshop we got a look inside the workplace of the potter where we saw all of her work. We were lucky to have the sun all day long, because in the nights it rained like crazy. Though the Amazon rain is amazing. Never thought I would ever say these words, but I loved the rain.

On our last day we visited a family in the Amazon where they taught us a lot about their history and customs. After that we made a self-brewed alcohol made of Yuca. The custom is that this alcoholic drink gets drunk by everybody at ceremonies, celebrations and weddings. After visiting the family we went to a reserve where we could see Caimans swimming in the water. Having the same similar look of a crocodile and an alligator the Caimans looked actually pretty cute becauIMG_6998se of their small size. You almost want to step in the water and have a swim with them.

Our last activity was visiting the animal rescue center of the Amazon where you can visit jaguars, ocelots. A lot of monkeys and parrots. Hearing about this visit, made us really excited first to see the animals. However when we arrived and heard the sad story about the animals why and how they were rescued, the excitement disappeared and made room for sadness. Just to hear about the fact that some of these animals can’t cope in nature anymore and have to spend the rest of their lives in these cages is really horrible.

This has been by far the best trip of my life. Just being in the jungle for 4 days and being surrounded by so many different animals has been a wonderful experience. This made me decide to visit the Amazon in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, too.

Great Amazon Squad!





Vamos a Canoa!

Date: 18-9-‘17
By: Carolien
About: Caro volunteers as social marketer at Montañita Spanish School. Back home she is freelance marketer and she travels a whole lot!

Montañita’s little brother
I’m in Montañita for seven weeks weeks allready to volunteer and learn Spanish at the school. Montañita is perfect for that. I decided to go on a weekendtrip to see something different and ended up going to Montañita’s little brother, Canoa. A very nice beachtown five and a half hour up north. You get there by bus and the trip costs less than ten bucks. So if you have some days off I would say; GO, GO, GO to Canoa! Read here why, how and when to go.

How to travel
At the busstop in Montañita you’ll get the advice you to take a bus to Manta and from Manta to Canoa. DON’T do this… I got some inside-information that saved me about two hours of traveling. I took the ‘green’ bus from Montañita to Jippijappa, pronounced as ‘hippie happa’. Busses in Montañita go by color and when I asked which bus to take to ‘hippy happy’ they still put me on the right bus. From Jippijappa you’ll take a bus to Portoviejo and from there you hop on the last bus to Canoa. Transits are super easy and busses run regularly.

Why go to Canoa
Canoa is one of the cooler places in Ecuador to me and it is known for a perfect surf and beautiful beaches. I visited the place when I traveled South America four years ago and I wanted to come back during this trip sor sure. I love the kind people, ‘tranquilo’ surfvibe, beautifull beaches and a perfect, little amount of party at night. The cocktailbars and foodstands are open day and night and the coconuts are served nice and cold. Surf, yoga and beachvolley are on every day which is perfect if you enjoy an active lifestyle. Canoa is perfect to renew my energy and see a different scenery.
Also an important note; It’s easy to practise your Spanish in Canoa. The people are chilled enough to take the time to communicate with you and your Spanglish accent.

Best timing
Wheatherwise I would visit Canoa between November and June. The sun will be out every single day. In case you like to surf go in November, in this month you find the best swell. Culture-wise I would say, go soon! Canoa has been hit by a earthquake 1,5 years ago. For me, coming from Holland where nothing ever happens, it was interesting to see how the last signs of the earthquake are still visible.

So, a little nearby history
On april 16, 2016 Canoa got heavily striked by an earthquake. My newmade friend whom I met in Montañita, told me about how he lost the business he worked on for years in a few seconds of earthshaking. The people of Canoa are still working on reconstructing the village. The story of my friend gave an extra dimension to my weekendtrip and the resilience of community really touched me. It’s good and interesting to be aware of this big happening in town while you visit. It makes Canoa is a very special place to visit at this moment. I’ve noticed that Canoa changed after the quake and the image of Canoa is a bit different as well. Canoa was a pretty intens surf-partytown before. Now it’s more quiet and less touristy in town but earthquake or not, Canoa definately have not lost it’s good vibe!

Tips & Tricks!
I stayed in a very recomendable place called Shangri La. It’s a bit out of town and a ten minute walk from the fiestas, very ‘bueno’ if you like to chill and sleep without noise. A private room only cost me $ 12,50 in low season. The food and especially the typical food from Namabí provice, is beter than everything I tasted in Ecuador so far.

Especially the seafooddishes, made insome kind of curry are incredible. I ate homemade icecream from an organic farm at the only iceshop in town. During the day I went out for a surf and played a few games of chezz with some guys on the street and I danced my ass off at night!

So, if you are a beachlover, surfer, sunlover or foodie like me and you’re looking for a nice trip when you stay in Montañita for a longer time, Canoa is definately a cool place to go to. Don’t miss out!



Life as a student from Montañita Spanish School

What is going on in the mind of a traveller that is already away from home for 4 years?  Claire, a girl from Australia and a student who has been here for 8 weeks tells her story.


I spend my time exploring, writing, reading, cooking, eating, seeking newness, and questioning everything. I like to learn, do yoga, and dance all night. I’m bad at sleeping and saving money, unless it’s for travel. Until this year, I spoke only english. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing and a dive licence. I miss my food processor and Vegemite toast.

For the last four years, London played home as a base from which I could explore Europe in quick nibbles and learn to grit my teeth against the wild joys of living in a big messy city. I loved and resented every wet, wonderful day.


A few months ago, that burning desire for change (sunshine) crept in, so I quit my job, sold everything, and booked myself a place at MSS. Now I rarely wear shoes and I speak Spanish every day, and Montanita is everything I could have hoped.

Exploring the world is my first love, and consumes my time and disposable income. Ecuador has presented a wholesome balance of beautiful rainforest, curling beach breaks, sunshine, yoga, Spanish, and sweaty, seedy all-night parties. I’ve loved living here and being a part of the Cabanas family. It really has been home. Now I’m on my way out explore more of this country, delve into the rest of South America, and exercise my new language muscles every day.


Since only a few weeks ago, you can follow my adventures online, and soon will be able to read about thoughtful travel, sustainable food things, and living consciously on my spanking new baby of a blog at . Follow the antics on Instagram @normalityblues .


La Vaca Loca Montañita

Throughout the year, each town in Ecuador celebrates Las Fiestas Patronales. A week of fiestas dedicated to that town’s Patron Saint. Last week was Montañita’s turn to celebrate its saint, San Isidro Labrador, and wow, it was fun! The week, filled with eating, drinking, dancing, and having un, started with the choosing of Miss Montañita. Doesn’t she look gorgeous?


The festival really picked up over the weekend. With different bands playing in town, those in attendance were having a great time dancing and enjoying the music. There were also many food vendors, which made it really feel like a huge festival!


After we thought it couldn’t get any crazier or more fun after the weekend, we were introduced to Vaca Loca on Monday night. All of the people in Montañita gathered in the town square in front of the church around 10pm, buzzing with anticipation as the band set the mood from the church’s entrance. First someone holding a pole with fireworks on the end began running around, trying to poke people in the audience. Not dangerous at all right? Well it got even crazier. The crazy cow (hence the name Vaca Loca) is a constructed cow with various fireworks attached to it. The cow is worn by a local person and run through the crowd, just like a raging bull, only this one has fireworks shooting out of its horns! The cow has no discretion, chasing everyone in the crowd. The children love to get as close as they can before sprinting away with joyful screams. Although it seems innocent and fun, there is real danger involved. One firework landed on a roof made of dried palm fronds. Luckily, one of our interns is tall and managed to get the fire off the roof. We don’t really want to think what would have happened if he was not there..

Believe it or not, anyone can be the cow. You only need to ask the event director beforehand. Thus, if you are extra crazy, add being the Vaca Loca to your bucket list!

After all this craziness, there was a huge firework show, which was done in Montañita style. The only recommendation I can give is: don’t stand to close! However, it was a beautiful ending to an impressive night!


In the days leading up, the whole of Montañita could already hear the local school practicing for the parade. Finally on Tuesday, different groups and schools from around the area came to town to play music and enjoy the final parade in Montañita.

It sure was one interesting and fun week, which is worth attending. Montañita’s Fiestas Patronales is definitely something you should go to when in the neighbourhood!