Back To The Beach: Montanita

Montanita Beach

The beach at Montanita

I was feeling a wide range of emotions as I walked out into the hustle and bustle of the airport lobby. I had just said goodbye to my father, after traveling with him for the past few weeks. I felt excited and grateful that I had been fortunate enough to have visited Machu Picchu, The Amazon, and The Galapagos Islands with my dad, but also sad that I wouldn’t be seeing him again until Christmas.

The good news was that I was now on my way to the coastal town of Montanita. I hadn’t seen a beach since Uruguay and that was months earlier. Our father-son trip had been very fast paced and I was overdue for some relaxation time.

Soon after arriving in Montanita, I met up with Katy and Anna, who I’d met back in the Amazon Jungle. It was really nice to see them again.  As the night went on, our group continued to grow. We were joined by some guys who were staying at my hostel.

A Midnight Robbery

We decided to end the night with a late night swim. Swimming in the ocean at night is one of my favourite things to do and we all had a great time. That is until we realized we’d been robbed. Luckily, I had left all of my stuff back at the hostel, but a few of the others had left their things on the beach. When we got back up to the beach, everything was gone, including Anna’s glasses.

The energy of the night completely shifted in an instant. We went from having fun, splashing around in the water, to sitting in a police station, into the early hours of the following morning. The police went out and questioned some people, but didn’t have any luck. What an unfortunate way to end a really fun night.

As we walked back across the town together, I remember thinking about how interesting of a site we must have made for the locals; A group of 6 gringos, all in bathing suits, walking through the streets, nowhere near the beach, at 2:30am.

Return of The Cervezas

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The view from my hostel

The next morning, I found myself in a hammock, up on the rooftop terrace of our hostel, chatting with my new friend Sam. At some point, the fact that I had quit drinking alcohol came up in conversation and I explained to him the reasons why I decided to quit.

I mentioned how I didn’t feel it was serving me and how I felt that drinking made me less productive. I also felt that drinking made it much more likely for me to act in ways that do not align with the principles and values I wish to live my life by.

I don’t remember exactly what he said, but at the end of our conversation I remember thinking really hard about my decision to completely give up alcohol. I reflected about how I do everything in life either 0% or 100%.

“Extremes are easy. Aim for balance.” – Colin Wright

I am either working 80-100 hour work weeks or working 10 hours a week, running my business from the beach (Or traveling the world and not working at all). I’m either working out 5 days a week, with a personal trainer, while eating perfectly (I used to skip class so I wouldn’t miss a meal) or I’m barely exercising at all. I’m either out partying and getting drunk every night of the week or I go months without drinking a drop of alcohol. I could go on and on…

I saw this pattern in so many areas of my life. It’s easy for me to completely cut something out of my life, or to work at something with 100% of my focus and commitment. Extremes are not difficult for me. What I struggle with is balance. And going cold turkey and giving up alcohol completely is no more balanced than when I used to get drunk every night in university.

I decided that I would practice the skill of balance. Unlike my decision to quit eating meat, I didn’t feel like drinking alcohol, in moderation, is hurting anyone. I had some drinks that night.

The Not So Great Diving In Puerto Lopez

After the amazing diving I experienced in the Galapagos, I was craving some more. I took a break from Montanita and made my way up to Puerto Lopez for a day of diving with Nicolas and Tina. I’d kept in touch with them since parting ways in the Galapagas and they happened to be in Puerto Lopez, wanting to do some diving as well.

It was wonderful to see Nicolas and Tina again, but from the beginning of the day, I was thoroughly unimpressed with the dive company. I thought they were very unprofessional. First of all they didn’t let us check our own gear. They just had everything put on the boat in advance.

Then they made us put our wet suits on, prior to a 15 minutes walk all the way down to the boat and then a 40 minute boat ride, while we baked in the sun. Meanwhile, the dive masters were still in their bathing suits.

Montanita Puerto Lopez Diving

About to drop in

Once we geared up, it seemed like almost every tank was leaking and had to have the o-rings replaced. I then watched as the instructor attempted to teach his new class of divers and it was the worse coaching I’d ever seen. There wasn’t much to see either.

I still remember surfacing from the first dive and hearing someone say, “I saw 3 fish.”  The second dive was better, but overall I wasn’t impressed with the experience. However, we did receive a pleasant surprise on the way back. Whales!

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Humpbacks!

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Surf’s Up

I’d considered renting a board and going surfing, basically every day since arriving, but I never followed through. On my final day in Montanita, I decided to stop procrastinating and go for it. It had been a couple of years since I’d been on a surf board, so it took a few waves to get used to it.

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I was able to get up consistently with the bigger, beginner boards, but as soon as I switched to a smaller board it became quite challenging. After getting hammered in the face by about 1000 waves and swallowing a gallon of salt water, it was time to call it a day. I had a blast, but I was absolutely exhausted when I made my way back to land.
 Surfing Montanita

Riding The Lows

I’ve been talking a lot about what I did, but haven’t mentioned how i was feeling. Many people seem to think that long term travel is a constant flow of good times, where tough times don’t exist. Well that’s just not true (At least not for me). The high times are definitely there in abundance, but so are the lows.

I experienced one of these lows during my time in Montanita. In my next post I will discuss what I was going though at this time, I’ll share the not so beautiful side of traveling, and I will explain why I am so grateful for these low times and how this one in particular lead to one of the biggest breakthroughs in my personal growth this year.

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The Greatest Gift We Can Give: An Inspirational Story
Riding The Emotional Lows: The Other Side Of Travel

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