In Ecuador “bueno” just doesn’t quite cut it. If you want to describe anything from last night’s dance party, to this morning’s surf, to the garlic coated fish plate with fried plantains (patacones) at the hilltop restaurant with a view, only “buenazo” really expresses it. The problem is that Ecuadorians have a tendency to use buenazo just little too often to describe just about everything. The mushy right point packed with dudes and rippled with a brisk onshore breeze – buenazo! The new annoyingly repetitive reggaeton song blasted at high volume – buenazo! How early we’re gonna get up the next morning to make the two hour drive to surf a hollow beach break sure to be buenazo – tempranazo (super early)! Yes, in case you were wondering, it works for words other than bueno too.
Granted Ecuadorians have plenty to get excited about. Straight off the plane we were greeted by warm smiling amigos that went well out of their way to show the three crazy Californian girls with overly stuffed board bags all the wonders of their country. The tour started at a skate park in Guayaquil. Kim Mayer dominated the half pipe then let a few ten-year-old fans feel the joys of a Sector 9 for the first time. They were immediately hooked and we had to keep an eye on them to make sure Kimi got her only skate back!
The next morning we hopped a flight to the Galapagos Islands where we rolled past big fat lazy seals that loudly reminded us that they own the sidewalk. Fleets of frigates darted and dove as we fried the skin from the bottoms of our bare feet, hot-stepping over sun-baked lava rock past green-lipped marine iguanas almost as numerous as the seals. I didn’t expect the surf to be anything to claim in facebook status updates. Jen Smith had been there before and gotten skunked. After our first sea life-filled waist-high struggle session, I focused my excitement on the chance to snorkel with hammerheads and tickle baby seals. The sharks were deep in murky water and I got only a quick fleeting glimpse, but at least could honestly add hammerhead to my list of shark encounters. Kimi started a tug-of-war with a mischievous baby seal over her mask and snorkel while a couple of his buddies tag-teamed chewing on my flippers. Then the semi-secret world-class right reef break walking distance to our house rental that our guides assured us would not be breaking turned on. We scored near overhead peeling rights for two days, in the Galapagos!
Surfed out and satisfied we returned to the mainland to further delve into the buenazo situation. Jen, the 2 x World Champion longboarder, was frothing on the very toes-on-the-nose-able rights of Montanita but also proved she can rip on a shortboard when the punchy beaches insisted upon it. I’d been to Montanita with the USA Surf Team about ten years ago and remembered it as a sleepy town with just a handful of surf-oriented hotels and a few local-style restaurants. What a difference a decade makes! Now an easy sandy stumble from the point is a row of bars and drinking booths on a barefoot-friendly street lined with dread-locked dirty hippies selling hand-made trinkets, sweet smelling herbs, and just about anything else you might need for a good night in a tropical party town.
A part of me bemoaned the changes, until we started heading a little north of town and came across a nice long, freshly-paved hill, perfect for Sector 9ing. The local amigas thought the three Californians were super loco for starting from so high up and around the corner, and we were nearly taken out by a huge truck at high speed, but only nearly, so it was totally buenazo.
After a week of Jen’s cross-stepping, and Kimi’s air-boosting, we finally got up tempranazo and drove up to that hollow beach break. Our guides assured me that it wasn’t quite as good as it gets but I didn’t care. I was stoked, pulling into closeouts and a few that were makeable, self-hooting buenazos left and right. By the end of it we were totally caught up in it. Ecuador is that good.
For the videos from the trip, see below: