Day 6 had some cool things in store for us! A last minute decision was made to stay in Puerto Lopez for one more day so that we could truly enjoy a proper beach day. And Joaquin had just the perfect beach in mind: Los Frailes. We lubed ourselves up with some sunscreen and headed out for the day just after breakfast. But not before Alvi snuck off to take some photos of the fisherman coming back with their overnight haul…


These must be fish…. but ew.


Must be snap-chatting ha ha.


A very busy place in advance of the morning’s fish market.



Beautiful highway to Los Frailes beach.

On the way, Joaquin brought us to Communidad Agua Blanca, another protected community right in the national park itself. We had the opportunity to visit a museum where treasures from the Incan past and even beyond were on display. Of particular interest to Alvi was the burial custom of anointing the body with preservatives and spices and tucking it into an urn with all of their favourite belongings. Legends tell us that the person would move onto the spirit world and bring these items with them. The kids were not so interested in all this cool history but hung in there long enough to be taken to this random sulphur spring…


The museum we came across. Look at that punchy red-flowered bush!


Nifty museum artifacts.

Though we were technically still in the “dry forest” area of Ecuador, it looked like full-on jungle life near this little pool of water! Saffy exclaimed “it smells like rotten eggs!!” Piper was quite intrigued and practically begged to have one of the massage/mud bath combos but the all-too-familiar “we’re on a budget!” from Mom kicked in. Not being a water girl, I hung out on the edge of the lake bemused at their constant discoveries: “look!! A family of frogs!!!” and “Eww! A giant spider carcass!”


Pre-dip in the sulphur lake. A bit of mud on her face.


Tiny little sulphur lake. Total jungle-like experience.


For some reason Alvi wanted to capture this.


My little pechochi looking so much like her Grampa Wrenshall.


Just hangin’ waiting for the food. More fish!


The beach where we had lunch. Not where we swam.


Albatrosses galore!

Following lunch, we hopped in Joaquin’s Prado and booted over to Los Frailes beach. A true beach day! Los Frailes is an unspoiled, protected beach tucked away in the national park Machalila. Unlike some of the other areas we’ve seen where, sadly, a lack of concern for the environment is a bit evident, Los Frailes has not one piece of plastic or garbage to be seen near it. We couldn’t wait to get there.I have NEVER seen waves like this! The kids, Alvi and Joaquin were in heaven!!! For three solid hours with no breaks they let loose and body surfed while I hung out under an umbrella grooving to the same 7 tunes I was able to get off of Alvi’s iPhone, but truly content to see my family experience so much joy and fun.


Taken with my iPhone. You simply cannot tell how massive the waves are.


The girls loving their beach time.


Somewhere out there are Alvi and Joaquin.


This was NOT Los Frailes; just a gorgeous view on our way back.

As all good things eventually do come to an end, we headed back to our hotel in Puerto Lopez and were met with a massive influx of people, tents and a carnival-type atmosphere. This must be the continuation of the festival they had started the night before! The music was cool but SUPER LOUD. We walked around for a bit and scored some cheap street pizza (family of 4 + 1 fed for $10… not too shabby!). We let the girls each pick out one souvenir from their time on the coast; Saffy chose a shark’s tooth necklace which she has not taken off to this day (it’s post 3 days as I write this) and Piper chose a lovely handmade candle.

I will try to paint the picture of our evening from here: music blasting at the highest possible volume with a singer who sounded like she had swallowed a howler monkey, streaming directly into our little room at Hotel Ruta del Sol; whooping and hollering outside our no-window screens and an increasingly cranky Mama. Magically, Alvi had no problem falling asleep having had his ass kicked by the waves, but the girls and I were trying to strategize how we would survive all this noise. I went down to the lobby around 11:00 pm to ask how long they thought it might go on for and coincidentally found Joaquin there, already anticipating our needs. He had told the hotel manager it would be simply cruel to have us stay in this corner room directly adjacent to all the noise, and could we possibly move to the back. The manager was super gracious and accommodated our request with no issues. And so the travelling gong show packed up all its crap — not an easy feat since Saffy was in tears over leaving the sweet little gecko she had befriended in our room — and headed to the other side. Ahhhh…. sweet sanctuary. It made a significant difference, though by all accounts it was still party central outside until nearly 3:00 am. Chalk it up to an experience we won’t forget!