First weeks in Montañita

Hello you,

It is Tuesday again and that means Tuesday-Blog-Day!! This time written by an adventurous Dutchie who is doing her internship at the Montañita Spanish School. Oh.. wait?! Are we talking about me? Let me first introduce myself for those who do not know me yet. My name is Stasja and I arrived in Montañita about 3,5 weeks ago. My experiences so far have been amazing. It is very difficult to get bored in Montañita, there are just too many fun things to do. To give you an impression of my life here, I made a list of my activities so far.

  • I met many great, fun and inspiring people. Those people are the keystone to my positive experience here, a great ‘thank you’ to you all !
  • A spectacular trip to Baños (There is a blog written before by Sammy about the Baños trip)
  • Eating at many good restaurants. The quality of the food here is very good, not only the Ecuadorian dishes but also the foreign dishes exceeded my expectations.
  • Bought already waaaay too many souvenirs.. Now I have to book (and buy) an extra suitcase when I fly home. But hey, who doesn’t need 2 leather bags and a hammock chair?
  • I had one week of surfing classes which were so much fun. Even thought I fell a lot, and sometimes didn’t even try to do the pop-up because I didn’t want to risk to fall again, I think I got a feeling for how to surf. The surf intern Alec helped me a lot and made it a very pleasurable experience.
  • We had a cocktail evening with delicious cocktails made by Laura, one of the students.
  • A fun BBQ with a fire show, good food and games, followed by a terrific night.
  • I have been on 2 surf trips, on which we went to Las Tunas. The beach there is very peaceful. It was so good to just relax at the beach and try to do some surfing.
  • Visit to Puerto Lopez and Isla Salango, an island good for snorkelling. Unfortunately, we did not see any sea turtles but we did see some beautiful tropical fishes. There was also some kayaking and bird watching involved. Tip: For about $25 you can do this trip with an organised tour from Montañita. We thought we could do it cheaper if we would do it on our own but in the end we paid about the same and we had to wait for a few hours until there was a boat available from Puerto Lopez.
  • Día de la familia. This was a great activity to get to know the host-families better. The families (especially their kids) and the students swam a day together in the pool. The kids they just love it! It was lovely to see their happy faces.
  • Bonfire =D It was so nice to just sit at the beach with so many fun people around a fire, watching the clear stars.
  • Intern cooking night. The interns made a delicious Seco de pollo for the students.
  • Picture night. In a bar we watched all the pictures of Baños.
  • Delfin tour. This was for me the best daytrip I have done so far. Almorro is the town where our Delfin tour started. We had to take 4 busses (about 3 hours of travelling) to get there but it was so much worth it! We were with 3 people and we had a boat to ourselves (and our 2 guides). The 3 hour tour (which cost us $17 pp) brought us to a place where fresh and salt water meet, that’s the place where dolphins can be found. We spotted about 15 dolphins. After seeing the dolphins, our tour continued to an island where the biggest bird population of Ecuador was located. There were thousands of birds on that island and the sky was full of them. It was a really great trip, I recommend it to everyone.
  • Sushi night.
  • Cocktails from Eugenio!! In the cocktail alley you can find the best cocktails of Montañita.
  • Fruit salads, tostadas and banana pancakes from fruit street

The list is seriously endless.. I don’t want to bore you guys with all the small things I did here, like eating empanadas, getting really good 0,50$ fruit ice creams or just enjoying the beach, but those small things altogether have made my time so far in Montañita already an unforgettable experience.

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this blog. Maybe you even got some nice ideas about what to do in Montañita. Thanks for reading! The pictures of last week can be found here.

Saludos,

Stasja

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Surfing secrets from Alec

Hey all! Alec here, ASI qualified surf instructor for the Montanita Spanish school. Having spent the last 3 seasons teaching surfing in Morocco, Portugal and now Ecuador I want to share some of my experience helping you learn to surf.

  1. Take a lesson! – Always make your first experience a safe one! The ocean can be very dangerous to the beginner surfer. During your first lessons you will learn how to safely handle your board, recognise and avoid dangers while having a great time with your friends and classmates!

  1. Limiting factors – Your surfing progression is limited by three main factors. Fitness, Ability and surf conditions. If all three are favourable you will progress quickly. Any swimming you can do in the preceding weeks of a surf trip will greatly increase your fitness and what’s possible for you on your surfboard. Even better, Buy / borrow a cheap surf board and go paddling in your local lake or river. Also practice burpees! This will give you the power required to “pop up” in one movement. A good ability comes from previous “gliding or sliding” experience. If you can snowboard, Windsurf, kitesurf, roller skate or even ride a bicycle you will have a great head start! We cannot control the surf conditions but taking a lesson will give you the knowledge you need to exploit good conditions and avoid the frustration of trying to surf in bad conditions.
  1. Have fun! – Everybody learns at different speeds. If you’re not having fun you’re pushing yourself too hard. Stick at it with good instruction and you will succeed! You’ll soon be addicted and surfing unbroken waves (the ultimate goal of surfing). Interacting with one of nature’s most impressive phenomena.

Learning to surf changed my life – It will change yours too! saludos, Alec

Semana Santa en Banos

Ah Easter, a nice weekend to spend with your family colouring and searching for Easter eggs while eating lots of Chocolate. However, that is not how we spent our Weekend! Together with our students we went to Baños, to celebrate this Easter racing down Mountains, enduring wild rivers white water rafting, jumping of bridges and zip lining through valleys at 90kph!

After sitting in busses for over 10 hours, we finally arrived in Baños, the volcano city. First stop was the SPA, or a more Latin American version. Thermal baths, with a view over a small waterfall. A beautiful location, and a colourful sight, with all people wearing different bating caps. As we entered with 16 ‘gringos’, we turned quite some heads. If that doesn’t make you feel sexy, what does? Ha-ha.

After relaxing – or for many people a big breakfast – we had time to walk around. Baños is filled with great stores to buy leather bags or great handmade shoes (Right girls?!). We even had the chance to get involved with the local culture, seeing guinea pig being roasted on the streets, and new ‘strange’ souvenirs. Have you for example ever seen a goat leg from which you can drink? We even went to a church to see their Easter rituals, where you can rub away your sins by candles.

After a very South-American lunch in a market place, we left to “Casa del Arbol”. A swing over the mountains overlooking Baños. A perfect place to take pictures, especially with the great weather we had!

Then we raced down the mountain on bicycles. The winding roads carried us through 7km of breathtaking scenery twisting & turning we reached speeds of up to 50kph. No pedalling required! Everything was great until Lucy’s front brake failed! Luckily she had a back brake and responded quickly to avoid an accident. We used this to our advantage by getting a refund which we used for more extreme activities!

The first night in Baños, we split up in a few groups to have dinner. Together with some (student) friends, I went to a grill restaurant. A great place to have dinner while a band was playing music.

We woke up early in the morning to go Zip Lining. What an experience. It felt like flying in between the mountains. Some people got in with great speed, however Aleksey felt more like hanging still at the end. Ha-ha.

Rafting, became a night time adventure. We left a bit late, as the Ecuadorians will probably never be on time. So we went rafting while the sun was going down! With some crazy guides who did their very best to let the boats flip so we would be in the water, we survived our half-dark rafting tour. Even Laura, who got stuck in a standing wave!

Our last night in Baños was for some, celebrated with a party & others by eating all the candy in Baños. Our last day in Baños, saw our most daring students jump off a 100m bridge! They experienced a few seconds of freefall before being caught by a rope and swinging back under the bridge! Many of us went shopping and returned with new shoes, bags and candy!

Overall I’ve never had such an active and extreme Easter weekend, and I can’t wait for all new days coming here! And a warm thank to all the students, and other interns, who have made this great trip possible.

Btw, interested in all the pictures taken by Stasja? Here the link of her pictures! Every week you can find here pictures here!

Pictures of last week                                                       Pictures of Banos

Also Phil his pictures are available Thank you Phil!

Saludos,

Sammy Beau.

Nuestro nuevo blog: Martes-dia-del-blog

Our new blog is now online! Time for you to follow your Spanish School friends again, hear great stories, be up-to-date with Montanita and enjoy our beautiful views.

So what have we been doing lately? Well, first let me introduce myself. I’m one of the new interns of Montanita Spanish School. My name is Sammy Beau I’ve been here for two months, enjoying the beach life. I’m from Holland, where rain is more normal than anything, so I’m happy to announce that my skin finally got used to sun! 5 weeks ago, I celebrated my birthday in Montanita. To get back from the immense parties in Montanita, we organized a bonfire, while roasting marshmallows.

Have you ever heard of Carnaval in Ecuador? Or even in Montanita? People go ‘loco’! People throw water balloons and play with foam. How does that work? Well, first, if you are a girl don’t put white t-shirts. Second, you throw water or foam the person you like. No longer have you to be secret and subtle around your crush, foam will do the job! All this, while enjoying the great atmosphere in cocktail alley.

After a weekend of amazing parties, Carnaval and my 21th birthday bonfire. The beach was not as clean anymore. As we are not only here to learn Spanish, enjoy life and party.. We organized a beach clean-up. Together with a great group of students we cleaned the beach, while the sun was setting.

clean-up wasn’t helping our Montanita community enough, we also held a ‘Host-family-day’. Students and interns taught many host-family children how to swim. Some had never even been in a pool! The sea is a great place in Montanita, a place where the waves are overwhelming, great surfers give amazing shows, and many surf competitions are held. However, the same sea is hard to handle for the young ones. It was a great day, to teach some children how to swim, and to see them enjoy the water like never before!

To stay in the same theme. We also had some great cooking classes, or ‘Clases de cocina. Last week we have made a delicious fish dish – Cazuelo de Pescado – with a sauce of peanuts. Together with a chef with formed a great dish. Cooking classes are always a great start, for a great party!

For one weekend, we left Montanita to visit Quito. Together with 3 other students, we did a city trip that I never expected. We took the night bus from Santa Elena, where we rushed our dinner so much, that I didn’t even noticed that I was eating with two forks. Finally arrived in Quito, It felt so familiar to Holland. Montanita is always covered in sun and heat, but Quito was cold! The first day we took a bus to Otovalo market, where we bought a total of 31 items. With only 4 girls, we somehow managed to buy more than 7 sweaters! (You can never have enough Alpaca sweaters!)To finish our day, we had a great dinner in ‘Calle de la Ronda’, where I tried the famous guinea pig! (No comments, haha).

The next day we visited an old volcano crater, we got stamps in our passports for visiting “middle of the world”, we went in the cable car to travel 4,1km high, rode horses in the mountains, visited the city and rushed back to the bus. I’ve never done so much just in two days’ time!

Are you still here? Well, than let me finish with some great pictures of waves. Last weekend we had very high waves in Montanita, due to a storm far away. Waves of a few meters high attracted many good surfers! Even our own surf instructor Mechugo went surfing. All what is left to say for me, enjoy his surfing!

Saludos,

Sammy Beau.

Can’t you wait to hear more about us? Well, every Tuesday is blog day! See you next week.

Un Año Nuevo Loco en Montañita

Like most festive days, we begun New Year’s Eve with a severe bout of chuchaqui. Unable to contain our festive emotions, the night before New Year’s Eve was a night of epic proportions. A group of us made the short journey south to Manglaralto, home of many of the teachers at the school, where one of the oddest festivals I have ever seen was taking place.

Basically, the dudes of the town all dressed in drag, paraded through the streets, females and the less secure lining the sides, fireworks flying in all directions. Eventually the congression reached a courtyard where the crowd divided into a circle large enough for the thirty or so señoritos to dance around for 20 minutes, occasionally receiving treats from the crowd in monetary, confectionary, or alcoholic form. Sound odd? It certainly was.

I asked a number of people the reason for the festival but I never got a clear answer. It has something to do with saying good bye to the previous year, in the same manner that everybody builds mascots to represent the past year and then burns them at midnight on New Year’s. I’m not sure how cross-dressing fits in, but hey, who needs an excuse really? Michael and I got involved, thinking our last-minute costumes were adequate, but no way. Have a look at Luis. That guy never ceases to amaze me.

Now to New Year’s Eve itself. Four hours surfing in Olon helped to remove the alcohol that had taken refuge in our souls, readying them for a new batch that evening. Some solid waves were coming through, and after building a Gaudi-esque sandcastle, we all felt ready for the night ahead.

The amazing William’s family organized a BBQ that evening at Las Cabañas. Such a great idea, though it definitely took the organizational skills of two experienced parents. In a group of close to thirty, from all over the world, we filled ourselves to bursting point, just before the drinks began to flow. An international game of “Circle of Death/Four Kings/Whatever” ensued as we all got into the festive mood.

Around 11pm we all started to make our way to the beach. Though for Michael and I, we put on our boardies, grabbed our “tablas”, and headed to the bar “Local Point” to meet the Montañita surf crew as they prepared for the famous midnight paddle out.

Like the previous night, Michael and I had no clue what we were in for. Upon arrival, thirty surfers were dancing around a pile of their surfboards, taking turns at drinking a tequila/mescal concoction from a massive wooden chalice. We just looked at each other, shrugged, threw our boards down and jumped right in.

As the clock neared midnight, we picked up our boards and made our way to the beach. Boards held high above our heads we danced our way down cocktail alley, hundreds of people lining the sides, cheering us on. The beach was unrecognizable. I’ve seen it packed before, but this was something else. A sea of people, tightly packed in, stretched up and down the beach as far as the eye could see; fires, fireworks and people dancing everywhere.

We ran through the crowd with the surfers, occasionally choosing one of the paper-machaie figures sticking out of the crowd to run around manically for a few minutes, before moving on to another. Luckily the waves were super small that evening so the paddle-out was pretty manageable. But that wasn’t the only danger. It felt like we were at war as we looked back at the beach to see fire rockets flying out and exploding above our heads, some even landing in the water close to us.

Once we made it out behind the waves we all gathered into a surfboard shaped circle, and splashed, hooted and hollered the New Year in. Straight after that we were off to catch the first wave of the New Year.

During this time the rest of the Cabañas crew were hanging on the beach getting amongst the crowd. As soon as the clock struck midnight they all ran into the water and joined the surfers. The entire beach was a mish-mash of crazies, but good crazies.

Once we made it back to the beach the surfers started running once again, so we followed. We ran all through the town, jumping over the dozens of small fires filling the streets, before making it to Hola Ola, where we all jumped in the pool, drank a few Pilseners and got silly with it.

From there the night continued on in typical Montañita fashion: a few cocktails from Eugeñio, a few drinks on the beach, all before, you guessed it, Caña Grill. We partied until daybreak, accompanied by many of the teachers from the school and friends from the town. For most of us, New Year’s Day consisted of a long, deep sleep, with intermittent swims in Las Cabañas pool.

¡Muchas gracias a Montañita para una noche para recordar!

Mucho amor,

Michael

Marcel’s volunteering time in the Aquarium

[ El texto en Espanol esta debajo ] 

We are proud to say that we are working with the only Aquarium on the coastline, which is located only 20 minutes away from Montanita by bus. This Aquarium is an animal rescue center, and they are doing an amazing job helping out the Ecuadorian wildlife by giving them medical treatment and then realizing them into the wild. In December our good friend and long-term student Marcel seized the oportunity to spend three weeks at the Aquarium. In the morning hours he worked with the animals, by helping out the local staff with feeding, giving them medicine, cleaning them etc.

According to Marcel he really enjoyed his time of volunteering, although there have been some long days with volunteering in the morning and Spanish lessons till 7pm. The work itself was interesting and new to him and moreover it was a great boost for his Spanish.

Thanks a lot Marcel for your great commitment. We hope you had a great time and will recommend it to other students!

The aquarium recently moved within Valdivia and nowadays has even better equipment. Take the chance and be the next aquarium volunteer!

Estamos orgullosos de decir que estamos trabajando con el único acuario en la costa, que se encuentra a sólo 20 minutos de Montañita en autobús. Este acuario es un centro de rescate de animales, y están haciendo un trabajo increíble ayudando a la fauna ecuatoriana, dándoles el tratamiento médico y librandolos luego en el medio natural. En diciembre nuestro buen amigo y alumno Marcel aprovechó la oportunidad de pasar tres semanas en el acuario. En las horas de la mañana trabajó con los animales, ayudó al personal local con la alimentación, dándoles la medicina, la limpieza de ellos, etc.

Según Marcel él realmente disfrutó de su tiempo de voluntariado, aunque ha habido algunos días largos con el voluntariado en la mañana y clases de español hasta las 7pm. El trabajo en sí era interesante y nuevo para él y, además, fue un gran impulso para su español.

Muchas gracias Marcel por tu gran compromiso. Esperamos que hayas tenido un gran momento y que lo recomendes a otros estudiantes!

El acuario recientemente mudado dentro de Valdivia y ahora tiene aún mejor equipo. Aproveche la oportunidad, que seas el próximo voluntario acuario!

Viaje de surf

[ El texto en Espanol esta debajo ] 

Every two weeks Luis (surf instructor), the students and I (other surf instructor) pile into the back of the “t-rusty” green pick-up (you know the one) and head off up or down the coast in search of pumping waves. During the week the students work on their surfing skills, often from a total beginner level, to the point where they can catch waves by themselves and paddle out to the bigger waves. The surf trip is a perfect chance for the students to check out another part of Ecuador’s beautiful coastline and surf some new waves, and for Luis and I, we just want to surf!

Last weekend we traveled forty minutes north of Montanita to the little beach village of Ayampe. Friday nights are always quite big here in Montanita, so the 9.30am departure proved a little rough, but after getting in the water and catching a few waves everybody was feeling much better. The waves were pumping with little to no wind, and a solid 2 to 3 foot. The low tide conditions made it difficult for some of the newbies but for Luis and I we were grinning ear-to-ear at the solid punchy A-frames steaming through.

After surfing for two hours everybody was feeling rather hungry, so we made our way to the ever-delectable “Restaurante D’Jimmy” a little further north in Las Tunas. There we all ate some delicious seafood and by the end of the meal we were all so satisfied we all settled in for a little siesta in the hammocks.

Once our delicious lunch had settled, we were back to Ayampe for one final surf for the day. By this stage the pumping surf conditions had attracted quite a crowd and there were around 30 people in the line-up. There were some great waves being ridden and we surfed until everybody was so knackered they couldn’t surf anymore.  On the trip back everybody was feeling very relaxed, with wide grins and totally stoked with the amazing day we had just had. To top it off we stopped in La Entrada for a piece of Oreo cheesecake from their famous bakery – could the day get any better! nom nom.

An awesome day in all – great waves, great food, great people – I can’t wait for the next trip! Check out the video clip above and the photos below 😉

Hasta pronto chicos,

Michael

(En Espanol – well, my version anyway)

Cada dos semanas Luis (instructor de surf), los estudiantes y yo (otra instructor de surf) pila en la fiel camieneta verde (ya saben el uno) y vamos hacia arriba o hacia abajo de la costa en busca de bombeo de olas. Durante la semana, los estudiantes trabajan en sus habilidades de surf, a menudo de un nivel total principiante, hasta el punto en que pueden coger olas por sí mismos y remar a las olas más grandes. El viaje de surf es una oportunidad perfecta para que los estudiantes puedan sacar otra parte de la hermosa costa de Ecuador y surfear por algunas nuevas olas, y por Luis y yo, sólo queremos hacer surf!

La semana pasada viajamos cuarenta minutos al norte de Montañita al pequeño pueblo de playa de Ayampe. Noches de los viernes son siempre muy grande aquí en Montañita, por lo que la salida de 9.30 resultó un poco duro, pero después de conseguir en el agua y coger algunas olas todo el mundo se sentía mucho mejor. Las olas estaban bombeando con poco o nada de viento, y un sólido de 2 a 3 pies. Las condiciones de baja marea hacen que sea difícil para algunos de los novatos, pero para Luis y yo nos sonreían de oreja a oreja en la garra sólida A- marcos de vapor a través .

Después de surfeando durante dos horas a todo el mundo se sentía bastante hambre, así que fuimos a la siempre deliciosa “Restaurante D’ Jimmy “, un poco más al norte de Las Tunas. Todos comimos unos deliciosos mariscos y por el final de la comida que todos estábamos tan satisfechos que todos nos acomodamos en una pequeña siesta en las hamacas .

Una vez que nuestro delicioso almuerzo se había establecide, fuimos de nuevo a Ayampe para una resaca final para el día. En esta etapa las condiciones de surf de bombeo habían atraído a una gran multitud y había alrededor de 30 personas en el line-up. Hubo algunos grandes olas que es montado y hecho surf hasta que todo el mundo estaba tan hecho polvo que no podían surfear más. En la parte posterior todo el viaje se sentía muy relajada, con sonrisas amplias y totalmente alimentado con el increíble día que habíamos tenido. Por si fuera poco nos detuvimos en La Entrada por un pedazo de pastel de queso de Oreo de su famosa panadería – podría el día nada mejor ! nom nom.

Un día maravilloso en todos – grandes olas, buena comida, buena gente – ¡No puedo esperar para el próximo viaje! Echa un vistazo a el clip de vídeo anterior y las siguientes fotos 😉

Hasta pronto chicos ,

Michael