Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit two places I had long heard about, but never been to. One was planned and the other spontaneous.
A group of us that included Bill & Elaine, my new friends Terry & Teresa (the tourists Robert and I met this time last year, who eventually settled on and recently moved to Puerto Cayo) and my getting-to-know-better friend Fatima, all decided to venture about an hour’s drive to a well known little guest house called Donkey Den. The Manta ex-pat crowd, including my good friends Jim & Jane, gather there each Sunday for breakfast. Fatima was the only one of our group that had previously been and she generously provided transportation for the rest of us car-less people. Linda, the owner, who is widowed and moved here several years ago, built this little haven in the tucked away tranquil beach town of Santa Marianita. She is a gracious hostess to all who come through her gates, including (at present count) 3 dogs and 13 cats – so those who know me know she was a woman after my own heart, even before we met! We all enjoyed the wonderful breakfast (Terry kindly agreed to share with me, so that I could indulge in my savory/sweet combo of a yummy veggie breakfast burrito and scrumptious strawberry and cream cheese stuffed French toast). And the opportunity to meet and visit with a whole host of new ex-pat acquaintances was such a treat. It was neat to see how this little community is rapidly being discovered and growing as well.
After 2 1/2 hours of eating, coffee drinking, chair hammock swinging and chatting away, we headed out and Fatima asked if we would like to stop on our return, at another well known guest house in the nearby town of San Lorenzo, called Gringo on the Beach. We were all game for continuing the day and a new adventure, so off we went. We ended up in another little haven and met one of the owners, Dan, who despite having quite the crowd (as Sunday is the day he opens the place up to allow local families entrance to use the pool and facilities) he graciously chatted with us and then not only gave us a tour of his beautiful, well established locale, but also offered to take us up the road to his barely launched new venture, Gringo In the Jungle. This property is located in the Pacoche rainforest area, near where I encountered the holler monkeys on my recent bus excursion. Dan showed us not only the three beautiful new cabins, but also the lush grounds, taking time to educate us on all the vegetation that was present. He has an incredible mix, including orange trees, papayas, mangoes, avocados, zapote (a new fruit I recently tried and love) and best of all, coffee plants and cacao trees – yes, my friends, that is where chocolate comes from! 🙂
Returning to our area, we stopped in at Bill and Elaine’s to drop them off and give Terry and Teresa a chance to see their house (so I got to have a brief Tag fix as well). I returned home in the late afternoon, well past nap time, but thankful for another serendipitous day in Ecuador!
Teresa had brought her camera phone and congenially provided a chronicle of the day (sadly, that means she’s not in any of the pictures 😦 ).