San Sebastian

We were so ready for Spain.  After struggling with French all we could think about was getting to a place where we understood what was going on again.  I fell asleep on the Rideshare from Bordeaux and awoke to hills and green trees and houses with tiled rooftops.  We had made it!  San Sebastian was small and came out of nowhere, the ocean bright blue and full of surfers.  The surf wasn’t good, but it was nice to be in a slightly more familiar setting.

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Our Couchsurfing hosts welcomed us into their house but had to run back to work so we relaxed for awhile then headed out to grab some of the famous “pintos”, the Basque word for tapas-style small bites of food.  San Sebastian is very famous for its cuisine, having more Michelin stars (14) per capita than any other city in the world.  The pintxos are served for lunch (around 1-4pm) and dinner (approx 7-11pm).  They cost between 1 and 4 euros each so it can add up if you are stuffing your face like we did.  I was in heaven.

Pintxos!!!

After having one of the most amazing eating frenzies of our lives, we needed to burn some calories so we could eat more for dinner.  We headed up the trail to Monte Urgull to where an old castle and a large statue of Jesus looked down on the city.  The city appeared even more beautiful than we first thought.  Two beaches were split in half by the peninsula with the fortress and Jesus sculpture atop it, complemented by a large bay with a pretty little island, and bright blue water that reminded me of the Caribbean.   We were ready to find jobs and move in, seriously.

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Isla Santa Clara

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We got a long nap along with everyone else in town (the Spanish do love their “siestas”), then headed out for more pinxtos.  I was obsessed.  My inner chef kept telling me to eat eat eat until I could eat no more.  Did I mention that La Rioja, one of the premier wine regions in the world was right down the road?  This meant amazing wine at amazing prices.  “How much is rent here?”

Coming soon… All about Basque cuisine.

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Surfing El Salvador – Waves Too Big For Us!

Surfing El Salvador - Waves Too Big For Us!

From San Salvador, Bus 102 makes frequent trips to La Libertad, the center of surfers’ paradise in El Salvador.  West of La Libertad is La Costa del Balsamo, a string of small beaches, lots of them sporting world-class surf breaks.  We wanted to catch a few waves in El Zonte which was listed as better for beginners, but unfortunately the waves were huge and only a few very talented guys were out in the water.  Surfing El Salvador seemed like it wasn’t going to happen this round.

Surfing El Salvador - Waves Too Big For Us!

Even though we didn’t surf, we spent a couple nice days enjoying the chill life in a beach town that contains only a couple hostels and a few small restaurants.  We took a walk along the road to find a high point for some pictures.  El Salvador has some amazing flowering trees that pop up in our pictures sometimes.

Surfing El Salvador - Waves Too Big For Us!

We cannot wait to come back to these places once we have a little more experience riding the waves.  The people we saw out there were getting so much speed on some amazing rides.  WE WILL RETURN!!!

Surfing El Salvador - Waves Too Big For Us!

Enjoy this post about our attempt at surfing El Savador? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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Everybody’s Gone Surfing/A New Obsession

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, is a the most happening beach town in the country thanks to it’s awesome surf breaks.  We stopped there for two nights.  With Steve, who had never surfed, in tow, we couldn’t resist the temptation to rent a board for the day and and try it out.

Since Zach and I took our first surf lesson in Máncora, Perú, we decided renting one board for all of us to share and taking a taxi to the nearest beach would be all we needed to do.  From San Juan del Sur, it was $10 and 20 minutes to Playa Remanso, a great spot for both beginners and experienced surfers.  Considering how physically taxing surfing is, sharing one board and taking turns for about five hours was perfect!

Zach trying to surf.

Guess what?  Surfing is HARD!!!  It was especially hard at this beach because the waves were breaking very close to shore.  It was difficult fighting the waves to get out there, trying to keep hold of the board and not getting knocked back too far!  Then because the waves broke so close, you had no time to get yourself standing before your ride was over!  It was a challenge.  Although Zach and I both stood up and rode a wave last time we surfed, neither of us had as much success this time.  Near my last run, I finally stood up, got stable, and then my wave died a second later!  Bummer!  However, Steve managed to do better than both of us, standing up and riding a couple times!

Everybody trying to catch some waves.

There were some great surfers out there, impressing us with their moves.  Although I struggled a lot and have the bruises to prove it, I think that I am even more hooked on surfing than I was after my first try!  It’s just so challenging yet tantalizing trying to catch that awesome ride!  Even though I didn’t really stand up, I had some great rides on my stomach and knees, still really fun!  Plus, surfing is an AMAZING workout.  Even now, two days later, the three of us are still sore in the shoulders arms, abs, and legs!  It works ALL your muscles!  Honestly, I really, really want to move to a beach where I can learn how to surf decently.  It would be so much fun, and I would be so buff!!  What a great sport!

After a fun, tiring day of surfing, we were rewarded with one of San Juan del Sur’s famous sunsets.  It was amazing watching colors paint the clouds as the sun sank below the Pacific horizon.  We just had to sigh, “¡Ahhh, que perfecto!”

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Surfing Peru – Mancora

surfing Peru

Our principal reason for going to Mancora was to try surfing Peru and that we were invited to stay for free in exchange for reviewing a nice hostel there.  But the gorgeous beach, chill accommodations, and cheap food quickly convinced us to stay even longer then we had planned. So we spent Christmas on the beach, exchanging small gifts of jewelry and treats (hello REESES!).

The day after Christmas, however, proved to be even more awesome, as we were offered a free surf lesson by Pilar, the hostel owner.  So we headed to the beach, did a few stretches and practiced popping up (“Do less!  Do less!”  Anyone get that?), then paddled out into the ocean.  I was scared, having been knocked down by a couple big waves when we were swimming earlier.  The lesson wasn’t really much of a lesson either, as it seems the best way to learn to surf is just to do it.  So Zach and I took turns having Pilar (who swam out with us in flippers) point us in the right direction, pick our waves for us, push us off and yell at us to stand up.  Zach stood up for a few seconds right away, but I kept getting up and losing my balance half a second later.  There was no reason for me to be scared though, because the “beginner” waves we were taking weren’t big enough to pummel us when we fell.  The really hard part was paddling out.  I have NO upper body strength so proppeling myself and a big heavy surf board out to sea against the waves was HARD.  Now I know why surfers are so buff.  It was an amazing workout; Zach and I both actually felt totally unable to do any more by the end of the hour.  A few times as we were paddling out, really big waves would start to crash in and Pilar would yell for us to roll off our boards and go underwater, beneath the breakers.  That was kinda thrilling.  Floating over the waves as you go out was fun too, kinda like a roller coaster!

surfing Peru
Paddling out with Pilar!

Finally, we had one last chance, Pilar announced.  One more wave to make it happen.  Zach went first and got up for just a second, but he had already ridden one.  “This is it,” I  told myself, “Gotta do it!”  “Paddle, paddle, paddle, stand up!” yelled Pilar, as the wave took me.  I stood up, too slowly of course, but I made sure I was properly balanced in the middle this time.  “Bend your knees!” she yelled.  And all of a sudden I was UP and STAYING UP!  I was doing it!  Surfing!!!!!  I rode that wave, perfectly balanced, until I got too close to the beach and had to jump off.  The feeling was extraordinary; the victory of that first wave was worth all the soreness from paddling that came the next day.  In that one moment, standing on top of the ocean hurtling to shore, I grinned super big and felt invincible.  I can’t wait to go again.  Surfing Peru!!!

surfing Peru
This is a freeze frame from the video of right before I fell. Sorry for the poor quality, but it’s the best documentation we have that I did it!
Enjoy this post about surfing Peru?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.
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Montanita Ecuador…a.k.a. Hippie Paradise

Montanita Ecuador, located on the central coast of Ecuador about 3 hours from Guayaquil, is the most popular tourist beach in Ecuador.  It’s known for its surfing and its parties.  When we asked Ecuadorians our age about Montañita, we got responses such as, “¡Hay muchas fiestas en Montañita!” and “It’s great, but only for two days.”  “Like Las Vegas!” I replied to that one, hahaha.

Montanita Ecuador

I ended up agreeing with the two or three days idea.  The funny thing is that many backpackers don’t.  Our campground in Montañita was chock-full of “travelers” who came and never left.  Foreigners from Canada, Argentina, Chile, Germany, everywhere roam the beach selling macrame jewelry or tacos, braiding hair, playing instruments, or doing anything else they can make to earn money for their food and $1.50/night campsite.  This population creates a cool multicultural and entrepreneurial spirit in Montañita.

Montanita Ecuador

The beach in Montanita Ecuador is gorgeous, with soft sand and a very gradual slope from the shore into the Pacific.  We didn’t have the cash for surf lessons, but we had a great time jumping in the waves and watching all the surfers.

Montanita Ecuador

The town itself is tiny and filled with nothing but hostels, bars, and restaurants.  Vendors’ carts also line the streets and beach selling cocktails and ceviche (a raw seafood/lime juice/salsa snack).  There are lots of opportunities to spend an arm and a leg on some good gringo food, but we disciplined ourselves and stuck to street food and  one restaurant that offered each meal of the day for only $1.50.  (Bonus–they understood vegetarianism there too, and offered me a meat-free alternative lunch, thanks to all the hippies in town!)  Montañita is most definitely all about the party, not so much the relaxation, and the hectic vibe kind of got to us after a couple days.  Although the easy, beach-bum life was a bit tempting, we decided to continue north to check out other beaches.  Still, Montañita is definitely the place to go for color, creativity, and fun on the beach!

Enjoy this post about  Montanita Ecuador? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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