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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Big Hugs & No Borracha

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

I had to part with some very dear friends yesterday...

That’s right… I went

through my entire pack and I took out a few items of clothing that were weighing me down… snuck down to the hostel laundry area, and strategically placed them in an area so it looks like I ‘forgot’ them… This was exceedingly difficult, because it's not like I decide to travel with clothes I hate.

Yesterday I might have mentioned something about how tough  it can be traveling as a solo female at times…

  • Having to lug around a heavy, large pack on your own because you don't have proper packing insight nor do you have the ability to control your spending when you’re at a local market.

  • Having everyone concerned (code for: afraid you'll die) if you want to wander out on your own in the evening.

  • Those judgemental looks when you ask for a second glass of vino tinto.  Or a third.  Or a fourth.  God forbid you want a seventh.

  • When you’re so incredibly beautiful that men will simply NOT leave you alone day or night…. Thank God I don’t  have that problem… as I think I've got enough going on trying to find a corner store that sells bottles of wine, as well as hauling around this ridiculously heavy pack.

The struggle is real.

I have no idea why I decided to bring so much… I think it's because I only started packing about 4 hours before I had to leave for the airport. It doesn't matter where I go on vacation, or for how long, I always get this notion in my head that I will probably only want to wear the outfits that I never actually wear at home.  And usually, each one of those outfits is slightly too small. And believe me, I parade around the house in each tiny & tight outfit before adding it in to my luggage, but there is still a voice in my head assuring me that it's going to look fabulous when I arrive at my destination. I admit it, I have a bad habit of packing below my body weight.  And too much.

One of my greatest fears is losing my luggage, especially here.  I'd be forced out on the streets to buy things like hot pink pants, fake suede stilettos, and extra tights sequin belly shirts that say things like "But first, coffee" and "Actually I am a unicorn."

No, thank you, sir.

Ok.. back to my actual day's adventure.

I really struggled a lot in the last couple days trying to figure out HOW I was going to get to Ayangue.  It's a teeny tiny town on the coast, and the closest that the bus gets is pulling over and dumping you on the side of the road.  Then life becomes survival of the fittest as you're forced to find your own way in to town... 2.5km.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am always up for  a challenge… unless it’s this particular challenge.  I really didn't want to have to walk that far in the scorching & paralyzing heat, carrying the worlds most massive & burdensome backpack… along with all my other necessities in life... purse, beach bag…

I checked Uber… no cars available… Zero taxis.

So… I decided to wing it. 

I caught a taxi outside fiesta central (that's my new name for the hostel I stayed at) and my plan was to go to the bus terminal in Santa Elena... and just try to figure it out from there. Maybe hitchhike?  Pray that some non-creepy, doesn’t-want-to-murder-me person takes pity on me, and might possibly pick me up & deliver me, in one piece, with all my stuff, to my B&B...

I’m tough… I can do it.

Tip for future travellers - don’t ever find yourself in this predicament.  Go where the buses go… don’t book cute Air B&B’s in the middle of nowhere if you don't have a rental car or a ride!

The taxi driver that pulled over to pick me up for the first leg of my journey offered to drive me all the way to Ayangue for ONLY $20. Boom!  Drive on, new best friend.

I actually gave him $30 for sparing me the dread and the misery.


Things DO work out.  And if they don’t, then it’s usually chalked up to a long day or a sudden lack of funds... but it's almost always a great story.

He drove me straight to the door of Casa Nautilus - remember?  The people that were the ones basically set to build a wall to keep me out because of their loss of faith in foreigners?  ... ahhh... the memories.  The lady was very sweet though.  Big hugs to me.  In fact, I'm going to refer to her as'Big Hugs' from now on.

The taxi driver wouldn’t leave until I had the telephone number of everyone in his family, because he’s convinced that I’m going to phone him on Tuesday to drive me from Ayangue to Puerto Lopez for $60… The bus goes for $3.  Yep.  Just wait by the phone...  Actually, I have a sneaky suspicion that he might just show up.  Stay tuned.

My accommodation is right on the beach… and it seems like a pretty secure, safe and quiet location.  I even went for a walk, and about 20 minutes away, I suddenly had a panic attack realizing that maybe I hadn't locked my room.  Instead of running back, which I normally would do, I kept walking, convincing myself that my stuff would be fine... and it was.

So after that breakthrough, I left everything in the room and went out to play in the waves for an hour of so.

This is BIG for me.  Especially by myself.

I’m scared of sharks. Petrified.  It takes a LOT for me to go in to the ocean, and even then, I never go in over my head.

To me, every shadow is a shark.  Every wave that breaks, a shark is behind it. Everything that touches me is a shark skimming past me. The only time I feel remotely safe is if I'm surrounded by shark buffers or if there is someone further out in the water that looks more like a seal than I do.

I’ve never scuba dived… 

I’ve snorkelled, but only briefly, ensuring that there is always someone directly beside me that I could toss to the shark, if push came to shove.

When I was in Australia, a bunch of did a 3 day tour through the Whitsunday Islands.  For some reason, I was below deck doing something dumb, and the boat had anchored. All of my friends had jumped off the boat and began their swim (about 25 metres) towards the reefs/coral/whatever… to snorkel.

When I eventually came up on deck, everyone was gone.  The deck hands kept saying, “just jump.” Just jump?  In to deep, dark, unknown ocean water... by myself?  In the exact location that I KNOW sharks are feeding...??  I would have had a heart attack before I even hit the water.  I begged them to take me over in the dingy… but they weren’t having any of it.  It’s terrifying (and funny) to even think about it still.  Australia - capital of sharks… jump in?  No, thanks.

Eventually my friends turned around to come back and get me, which was nice.  I doubt they’d have been so nice had they known that each and every one of them was merely a bait buffer. They go first.

There is a bamboo beach bar directly outside my hotel.  As soon as I saw it, Big Hugs gave me a stern warning NOT to drink there because I would get sick.  The exact word was 'enfermos' and she made a nauseated facial expression while rubbing her tummy. Hmmm… hangover sick or Malaria sick?   Couldn’t figure it out, so maybe I’ll steer clear of that place considering I haven’t yet taken the necessary precautions and got me a damn mosquito net yet!  Plus… I already checked it out and they don’t have any wine on their menu. I also haven't got a hat... and I've noticed that my scalp is slightly sunburn pink... which I am hoping might kill off any lice that I may have contracted at fiesta central.

I did see Boiled Banana Balls on a sign for breakfast and right there, it struck me down again... the thought and taste of margarine churning & rotting in my body.  This will NOT go away without a fight...

But now... I sit here in my little Utopia… the power is out for some reason and the wifi is gone.  Figures.  I managed to find a lovely bottle of wine and I borrowed a cup from Big Hugs.   I think that after the mean email that she sent me last month, she OWES me a cup.   She did make a point to say "No Borracha"(translation- "Don't get drunk") so there goes my big plan for the evening....

Guess I could always wander out in to the night for some deep fried bananas... but I had them again today at lunch.

Life is tough…

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