Montañita, Round ∞

Roughly 12 (ahem) months ago, Lizzie and I found ourselves once again in South America. Ecuador to be accurate. Montañita to be precise. Casa Cacique to be pedantic.



Why? you might ask, and what is Casa Cacique? Both very good questions. I’m glad you asked. But first, we must chronologically orient ourselves. It’s helpful to know this post transpires the end of September and most of October 2015: a whole five weeks of fun, sun, and rum, oh and my CELTA English teaching course, coarse, of course.

Funny isn’t it, that when no TEFL course worked out for me in England last summer 2015, I decided to go somewhere with a little less English in the air. I applied, interviewed, and got accepted to study at Casa Cacique with International House Montañita. Lizzie, who is quickly becoming my favorite travel companion, tagged along for the ride, hoping for opportunities to use her brilliant Spanish, volunteer, and of course, stay fit.

Yes, that’s right, good memory. Lizzie and I met in Ecuador, but thankfully not Montañita because brrro, lo que pasa en Montañita, se queda en Montañita. In a way it was strange finding ourselves back in a place which we had both already been. Indeed, finding yourself in a repeat destination, if not for a habit, is quite odd. Perhaps it tells of yet undiscovered treasure, one’s comfort zone, or to recover a part or piece of something or someone lost. In any case, if history repeats itself in such short temporal terms then I’m a first-hand eye witness to this phenomenon.

In spite of this personal consternation, it was wonderful being back in Latin America, especially on the coast, even though my mind’s priorities were incessantly being tugged at by my heart’s desire to simply sit at the beach and contemplate the complexities of this world. I become wonderfully lackadaisical by the sight of the ocean. But alas, this CELTA course required serious attention and focus. And so it was; this was my conundrum for five weeks. So it wasn’t all a glorious, tropical paradise, you see.


Okay it was quite glorious really

Montañita is a surf town, by definition. But which definition?
1. n. locale with inverse proportion of drugs to people
2. n. small local community with transient population composed of few inhabitants who happily scrape by due to a surplus of even more transient travellers, tourists, and consumerists…of any substance.
3. n. an almost tangible place where life’s beautiful insignificance is a working theory
Damn I’m a clever writer. I believe Montañita brilliantly fits all three definitions.


Lizzie’s favorite: a tropical fruit bowl!

Casa Cacique provided a great space to focus as well as play. It surpassed my expectations, even though one should not have expectations for coastal Ecuador, included climatic ones. The one exception being to expect mosquitos:


I do not intend for this to be a review of Casa Cacique. But in the event you are a stranger wanting some info on the course, wade through my monologue and you’ll get something. The course was five weeks of learning, teaching preparation, teaching practice, observation, written assignments and much more. It was a smorgasbord of information, albeit incredibly well organized and exceedingly well taught, it was nonetheless a smorgasbord. On some occasions I doubted whether or not I understood English anymore. I still doubt myself that when I do looking towards my inside reflect that I do.


But I cleaned up my act


And I genuinely enjoyed it!

In addition to the course, room and board, and the tropical paradisal refuge, everything down to staples and scratch paper was included in the cost: a hefty 2500 dollars. It must be said that not for a second of my 3.024e+6 seconds ( on site did I regret spending it. Thankfully, Lizzie was given a greatly reduced price, since she did not partake in the course. The two of us shared a cabana in which we happily lived like nobility. Photo on 9-26-15 at 2.38 PM


I, hard at work


Lizzie, hard at work

The photos below are of where we dined, three times a day, seven days a week for five weeks. Our cooks, nay, chefs, Mauro and Rosario had top-notch talent and an energetically kind smile to match. I was flabbergasted at the variation in their delicious menu of mostly local cuisine. Pasta dishes, bolones con queso, tortilla con camarones, arroz con pescado, sooooo much pescado a la plancha, encebollado, and loads of potatoes, plantain, and yucca. Any repeated meal, albeit very seldom, was simply a joy. Due to lots of rice, pasta, meat, fish, and potatoes, vegetables made less of appearance on the plate, which may have been a challenge for some, but I wasn’t fussed. Luckily for the peckish, fresh fruit was aplenty most times of day.


We were ten participants on the course from five countries. Thanks to the relaxed atmosphere and uncompetitive nature of the course, we lived in mostly melodious harmony. Aside from that one now-hilarious 3:00am wake up call by our drunk Irish neighbor watching Ireland’s 1994 Eurovision entry… a ten minute walk for a swim in the ocean was all that was necessary to subdue any qualm.12112046_10205354856335848_5350216763543660757_n

A frequent game of ping pong, the unofficial official sport of the course, also often settled the stressful steam.


3rd place winner of the CELTA Table Tennis Tournament, Oct 2015 (from my CV)


The ping pong table was not often without an audience, especially on weekends

Speaking of the devil, weekends in Montañita are clearly four days long, Wednesday through Saturday, which was a terrific potential pitfall for the debaucherous. We had four full weekends, but also four full written assignments due the Monday following. Honestly, it was a challenge to ever turn down such incredible party. I hope my fellow CELTA graduates forgive me for this piracy, but I’ve stolen a few of their photos for the betterment of my post. Thanks, crew.



Lizzie had probably put ice down me pants


Cue the cameo… Hazzah!


Coctel alley: home of unparalleled fresh fruit cocktails



A Montañita legend



On that plagiaristic note, I must end my tale of five weeks. If you are ever fortunate enough to be in Montañita, you will quickly discover two essentials:

  1. Life is beautiful, especially when you let it slow you down
  2. Rastapan


Post scriptum: Lizzie and I are going to Hanoi, Vietnam in one week. I’ll teach English and Lizzie will be her free gypsy spirit self traveling where she wishes. Rest assured, I will be taking a part of Montañita with me.

Until next time, hang loose, bro!


About Jarett Bigej

"It is impossible to eat an ice cream cone in a masculine way."
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