Eco Lodge

Day eighteen: Montanita, Ecuador


It’s our first morning waking up in the Eco Lodge. Well, I say Eco Lodge, but this morning it feels more like an unfinished (albeit quite stylish) wooden shed.

We have all had a terrible night – it rained constantly with the noise on the tin roof keeping most of us awake. That, plus the design of the building has several gaps (let’s call them windows) which let both the rain and the damp in. Today may be a slow day.


We head back down to the main house to see Mercedes, the owner, now following the instructions she shared yesterday to keep to the path (my pretties) as the grass contains difficult-to-get-off-bugs. We have a lovely cooked breakfast in what can only be described as a bamboo workshop with art paper as our table cloth.

There are two students from France staying for a while to study with George (the Eco Lodge architect) to help create a furniture line using similar methods and materials to that of his Eco Lodges. They are very sweet and help serve the breakfast, most of which is home or at least locally made. The rain continues and we use the time for home schooling in the bamboo workshop (maths, reading and creative writing today).

Late morning and we find ourselves sat with a decent coffee in a Montanita cafe… people watching. It’s clear that Montanita is home to an eclectic mix of people… backpackers, locals, foreigners who look like they arrived a long time ago and chose to stay, some hippie-types, surfers, long term travellers, some wearing shoes and some choosing not to.

Montanita is a surfing, party town and – not for the first time – we don’t see anybody who looks like us…. a British family of five! It’s 11am and the town is just waking up from the aftermath of whatever happened last night, with some people already back on the beer. 


We take a walk along the beach and it’s giving us an unfair first impression. Many beach resorts look pretty miserable in the rain and Montanita is no exception. I’m sure it looks better with people on it, with surfers hanging out, with cafes open and sunshine reflecting on the waves.


Today though…. it’s all a bit dull and grey. We walk the coastline for a while, stumble across a dead turtle (just to add to the general ambiance), lots of jellyfish and some pretty cool green stones washed up by the sea. 


We do long jump competitions, find some swing ropes to play on and another slack-line for the children to have a go on. Today is all a very gentle amble and we decide to add ‘film night’, ‘pop corn buying’ and ‘finding Mia a new swimsuit’ to the list of things we must do today. We succeed with two and fail on one (popcorn).


We finish our Montanita visit with a marathon session of Uno, accompanied by happy-hour-gin-and-tonic while sitting on wooden pallet furniture in a Mexican restaurant. Happy days.

Items lost: 

  • Mia’s (only) jumper

Items bought:

  • New swimming costume

Day seventeen: Guayaquil and Montanita


Today is a travelling day. A harder day. A dull day. A meal management day. A home learning day. Everyone’s mood changes for the worse when we’re hungry and generally our patience levels are low. We need to get from Santa Cruz (taxi) to Baltra (ferry and bus) to Guayaquil (aeroplane) to just outside Montanita (car).

The plane journey is relatively short, made all the more exciting by one child refusing to do any school work – cleverly choosing a confined public space to exercise his refusal. Rewards are revoked, patience is tested and I sit wishing the plane journey to end. That. Or a large glass of wine to arrive (it’s 10am).

We land – the small child is intact. We’ve been told to be extra alert in Guayaquil as it has ‘an-edge’. The children all get their hands held pretty tightly through the airport and we’re met by a man mountain known as Jofre.


We exit the airport through glass doors with NO GUNS and NO DOGS stickers reversed out. Assuming that’s a message for anyone entering the airport, I now figure we’re entering a world of guns and big dogs – excellent.

Disappointingly for his size, Jofre has a surprisingly small car. We spend two and a half hours squeezed in the back with no air conditioning. Guayaquil appears to have the same high-speed-lane-hopping behaviour as Qatar, with the added bonus of no seat belts in the back. I get the children to lie down and take a nap… hold onto them tight… make a wish… and focus on the dangly cross hanging from Jofre’s rear view mirror. Whatever it takes – right?

The place is manic. At the first traffic lights we’re offered strawberries, loom bands, windmills, avocados and a street-dance (!) – all for money and mostly through the window. Jofre is very clear it’s a ‘no’.

We go past a police check point and pathetically I smile and hope my face is saying ‘honestly we are happy to be in this car, we are not, in fact, being kidnapped’.

The high volume contrariness from today’s playful child continues and only on the realisation that pocket money was indeed being taken away, one pound at a time, immediately and visibly on the pocket money phone app, did the car become quiet. Finally.

Today’s destination is an eco lodge just outside of Montanita, on the coast of Ecuador. We drive past a mini Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Big Ben (!). A bit further we drive past pretty baron land with several precarious shacks that could come right out of the Three Little Pigs story book.

Eventually we reach the coast and Jofre takes a right along the coast road. Each ‘town’ we go through I’m sat quietly *hoping* this is not Montanita and breathing a sigh of relief as we exit the town on the otherside.


Finally we arrive at the Eco Lodge, we walk up to the top of a green field to find our home for the next three nights. We dump bags, agree on who is sleeping where and then go on the hunt for food for the evening. A $1.50 taxi ride takes us into Montanita – pizza and wine lift our spirits.

Dinner then bed. Quite simply… we survived the day.