Once upon a time, Montanita was just another small Ecuadorian fishing village - with some of the best waves in Ecuador. When its sprawling beaches and reliable swells were discovered, it was quickly overrun by surfers and party culture. I was a misfit, but might have had a great time with good friends and a bit of sun. Alas, I found neither, so I spent my time watching soccer and working at my computer over coffee and beer.
I caught up with Jeanette briefly, but she was pretty well wrung-out from five days of partying. She left the day after I arrived with a newfound group of friends. I’d enjoyed her company, but our differences in style, budget, and pace led us to split ways sooner than expected. Ten days of eating, drinking, sleeping (only literally), planning, and compromising with her also reminded me why I’ve enjoyed traveling alone. Sharing costs and responsibilities was great, but independence is addictive.
Next up was Baños, where I immediately met a trio of travelers with handlebar mustaches (Movember!) and a full itinerary. I piggy-backed on their plans, and quickly found myself in good company with plenty to do. It was fortunate timing; the next day was Thanksgiving and I was glad to have friends to celebrate with, by rafting down a river and eating hamburgers.
John, Jay, and James left the next afternoon, but a chance encounter with Tim and Kathleen, a German couple I’d met in the Galapagos, meant I still had friends in town. Kathleen was preparing to fly home, but Tim had an unknown handful of months remaining in his trip. Tim’s accent - German with hints of British and Australian - is somehow both sophisticated and comical. His shaved head and distinctly German mannerism further betray an enthusiastic and youthful personality. He is prone to making loud grunting sounds when swimming with sealions or photographing llamas, he doesn’t like rules, and thrilled at jumping off the top deck of the Aida Maria. When he gets excited, his eyes twinkle and his ears seem to perk up. He is, somehow, the kind of person you don’t want to disappoint. So when he asked me to climb Ecuador’s highest mountain, how could I say no?
Agreeing to climb Chimborazo meant signing up for a week of trekking at altitude to acclimate. So, suddenly, Tim and I had a ten day plan that would put us in various corners of northern Ecuador together. I was looking forward to getting back into the mountains.