We had a 10.5 hour travel day from Puerto Lopez to Baños. It was a big long day, but it was totally fine until the sun set and we couldn’t enjoy the scenery anymore! Ecuador is so beautiful! Before we went back into the mountains we drove past a million banana trees, coconut trees and cacao trees. I’ve never seen those before! The piles and piles of bananas at roadside shops never got old. I probably should’ve snapped some photos of that. Whoops! I wanted to pull over at every turn to capture what we were seeing. Ecuador is so lush and green. Both Conor and I loved returning to the mountains. We really, really enjoyed our time at the coast and we are really, really happy to be back in the mountains. Gosh, I love Ecuador.

Our second time to Los Frailes was great! The girls and I walked along the beach and explored the big rocks. Amongst the rocks was lots of coral. We didn’t bring any home (we are rule followers!), but I really wanted to! There were lots of little crabs on the rocks too. 

We came back to a baby caked with sand and so happy about it too! 

We made friends with a family sitting beside us. We quickly found out that they are the same religion we are. I heard the woman say, “JesuCristo” and “ultimos dias” and I was like, wait what? It was really fun to strike that connection! They have been members for almost 2 years and her son is 5-months into a mission in Chile! So incredible!

We were at the beach on this day earlier than we usually are and at the time of day when the sun is the strongest. I have been so vigilant with sunscreen and wearing t-shirts and taking care of everyone’s skin. We’ve all done really well in the sun until this day! Conor, Holly and I got so sunburned. I’m not sure how Greta made it out without a sunburn. And thank heaveans, Maeve didn’t get burned. I’m so glad I spent $20 on her swim shirt. And Conor thinks that they thick layer of sand on her legs protected her from the sun! At least it happened on our last day.

I can’t even say how much I loved our time in Puerto Lopez! We stayed in the best place and having Conor on vacation time was so awesome! Living in Ecuador has had a lot of challenges and I think striking a balance has perhaps been the biggest and most prevelant. Our family loves the ocean. Conor and I reflected a few times on our vacation we took to San Diego many years ago. The time we spent in Puerto Lopez was so similar. It was very relaxing, very fun!

One afternoon, after a slow, lazy morning that included lingering over breakfast, we went to what is supposed to be the most beautiful beach in Ecuador, Los Frailes. And it was really beautiful! The beach was clean, the sand was perfect and the waves were so fun to play in! We had such a great time, we came back the next day!

Mother Nature really showed off for us in Puerto Lopez. One night, on our way to dinner, we enjoyed this incredible, saturated sunset! It was truly amazing. Every few minutes the colors changed. I’m sure I sounded like a broken record, “oh! Look at it now!” 

The night before, we saw bio-luminescence in the waves. I’ve never seen that before, it felt like the northern lights of the ocean! It shone so bright with each crashing wave, a beautiful turquoise blue. What an amazing earth we get to live on!

We all love Hosteria Mandala here in Puerto Lopez. It is so extremely child friendly, and we actually extended our stay by one day. I could stay here longer and would love to come back. After breakfast one morning, we went upstairs and hung out for a little bit. Holly and Greta love playing with the instruments that are here. There are also lots of games, and the girls have worked hard on drawing and coloring a page in the guest book. This has been a real highlight of this trip! Holly and Greta also love making friends with everyone, so staying in a place with other guests is a real treat. Right now they are chatting with some adults staying here on a different level from me. They are hilarious! (And that face on Maeve!)

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