Fishing boats, Isla de la Plata island, Ecuador Ecuador 2018, Nossi Travel Abroad

Eight Days of Ecuador…Day 4

By Sheri Oneal

Eight Days of Ecuador…Photography Travel Abroad Class

Day 4 –Monday, April 23

In the morning after my cricket fiasco I got up and was ready to go, we were told we could come back after our excursion to shower before checking out of our rooms. We walked down the road toward the pier in Puerto Lopez, this is a beautiful and quaint fishing village in an arched bay in the Ecuadorian Manabí Province. The beach had boats along the shore and fishermen coming in and going out for their daily activity of earning a living.

Fishing village of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

We stopped for breakfast along the way at the Patacon Pisa’o Restaurant before heading out by boat for our special experience.

As we left the restaurant Mathew stopped a guy on a motorcycle and asked if he would give Eric a ride to the pier, the man obliged!

Eric gets a ride from a local.

As I got to the pier there was a local gentleman standing at the entrance and I motioned if he would allow me to take a picture, he smiled and I was able to get this photo as I walked toward the boat.

A man on the pier of the fishing village of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.

Ecuador has 1627 confirmed bird species and today we get to experience one seabird that will keep the jokes coming all day long. Fishing is one of the most important enterprises in Puerto Lopéz and their most common fish include amberjack, dolphin, wahoo, marlin, and several different species of tuna.

We boarded a boat not far from the restaurant and after about an hour boat ride we arrived at Isla de la Plata island in the South Pacific Ocean.

Photo by Jason Lyell

The weather was hot and humid and there was a slight drizzle of mist that made it feel hot and sticky along the dry trail. Today we were to visit the ecological reserve of the Machalilla National Park where we hiked up a mile long loop of stairs to Los Acantilados.

Photo by Kathleen Munkel


Isla de la Plata island, Machalilla National Park, Los Acantilados, South Pacific Ocean, Ecuador

It was 90+ degrees and at least 90% humidity, that mixed in with the extreme staircase uphill hike made for a very difficult adventure. I was worried about some of the other students having heat stroke, several of my students were very fair complected and I hoped that they remembered to put a strong sunscreen on as the sun was now fully shining.

Photo by Jason Lyell

Along the hike we saw various colonies of marine birds that inhabit this landscape including the blue footed booby. For hours we all laughed at the comments you can imagine come from seeing boobies…yes we are all 12 years old but what is life without a little humor!

Blue footed Boobies on the Isla de la Plata island, Machalilla National Park, South Pacific Ocean, Ecuador.

Once we got to the top we enjoyed a breathtaking view of the water below, it was a great place to rest before heading back down the trail.

Isla de la Plata island, Machalilla National Park, Los Acantilados, South Pacific Ocean, Ecuador

Mathew shot some footage of the students near the cliff for the video he would put together later for the college.


Photo by Christina Emfinger


Photo by Kathleen Munkel

After the hike we got on the boat and searched for an area to snorkel off the rocky shore line. In the distance we spotted a humpback whale jumping out of the water but it was too far away to really enjoy, we were not in the peak season for seeing the whales unfortunately.

Half the group went in the water to snorkel, it was colder now and I was coming down with something so I opted to not swim. The ones that did go snorkeling seemed to enjoy the view of coral below.


Photo by Jason Lyell


Photo by Jason Lyell

It was time to head back in to shore and after our long ride back we realized we were late and two of the rooms had been cleaned out for new guests. Once we coped with the craziness of cleaning up, packing and getting on the bus in a hurry we stopped for some lunch. I couldn’t wait to get some Ceviche with shrimp and octopus…it was wonderful.

Now it was time to head a couple of hours north on to Bahia de Caraquez. We would stay at this location until our last day and looked forward to having the same room more than one night. Once we arrived we were greeted by Chantal and Alfredo at the Saiananda hotel, it was so nice to know we would be staying at this beautiful place on the water for the next 4 days. Later Alfredo had his staff prepare a vegetarian Ecuadorian dinner with rice, plantains, soup and salad and we ate family style in an open area of the hotel right next to the water.


After this fourth day of travel our experience will take a big turn. This is the first trip we have ever put together for a travel abroad class and although it appears to be going perfectly, the truth is it is not working from a standpoint of how a true photography travel assignment would go. I am frustrated with so many travel miles, historical hikes and super long days with no ability to teach or shoot during the right daylight hours. The students are exhausted and showing signs of being upset. I have been extremely stressed myself not to mention Mat and I were coming down with some funk I am sure is due to pressure and lack of sleep.

None of this was anything that could have been anticipated beforehand but Mat and I both realize we need to spend more time shooting and less time traveling. After I get an ok from the folks at Nossi back in the US, Mat and I meet with Chantal and Alfredo that evening to see how things can be changed to allow us more shooting time. We need better opportunities to shoot with good light at the right time of day, we also need to capture more than candid behind the scenes travel, birds, and landscape photos.

My goal is to let the students capture the culture and other aspects of the way the Ecuadorian people live. I have shot many travel assignments in my 20+ years of being a commercial photographer and this trip is a wonderful opportunity for the students to document the culture. Moving forward that is exactly what they will get to do.

We finished out our night with a complimentary meditation of “Tibetan Singing Bowls” in a special room of the hotel hosted by Alfredo and Chantal. It was a wonderful way to end a long hot stressful day of travel. This is a snippet before the lights went off and I was able to enjoy the experience.

I hope you will come back soon for day five when our trip takes a complete and transforming turn that will forever change all of us.


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