Wayyyy back in Meridá, Venezuela, I booked a top shelf get away for myself in Manta, on the coast of Ecuador a short fight from Quito. After three months on the road, another two and a half months to go, and with some time up my sleeve, I figured I deserved a little break. Balandra Hotel gave me a room to myself, private bathroom with hot and cold water, a big bed, a balcony with beach views, a pool, breakfast, air-conditioning…and why shouldn’t they when I’m paying for it.
What they couldn’t have provided at any price and which I was so amazingly lucky to have was JP coming to share it with me. Walks and sunbathing on the beach, champagne with blackberries and antipasto nibbles on the balcony, music we actually knew, skimming stone competitions, sneaking up on crabs on the beach – none of them trusted us – spotting a blue-footed boobie a long way from his traditional home and some very long and important conversations.
Manta is primarily a fishing village, proclaiming to be the tuna capital of Ecuador and we passed several trawlers in dry dock conditions, held up with scaffolding on the sand. The beach is also popular for outdoor events and volleyball while we were there. For me though, I needed a comedown, a debrief and a lot less local transport and constant movement to recharge and get ready to go again. And then to have my special someone so close, it was exactly all I needed.