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Yesterday I arrived in Ecuador (both Anders’ and my 22nd foreign country, isn’t that weird?), making this my final of my eleven editions of Photo of the Week from Peru. Eleven weeks! The only countries I’ve spent so much time in are Thailand and Indonesia. And, well, the United States.

Our arrival in this new country has been quite stressful. We had planned to stay in the beachy party town of MontaΓ±ita until right after New Year’s Eve, about two weeks. However when we arrived we were met no after no about availability for that full period, with prices skyrocketing around December 26th. We managed to book a lovely room until Christmas — right now, we’re splurging at $40 a night (not that we had many options) though on our last night the price goes up to $100! We spent the rest of the day looking for a more affordable room to move into afterwards. There were very few options, but we were able to find a decent room for $70 a night (not feasible for us, at least not for the full week we’d require in order to be here for New Year’s Eve) or a mattress on the floor for $40 a night.

At this point the only feasible route is to reserve the mattress-on-the-floor room for a few nights for New Year’s and head to the big city of Guayaquil to get some errands done in the days between Christmas and New Year and to save some cash.  But maybe I need to let go of my dream of spending New Year’s Eve here in MontaΓ±ita and just be happy with having Christmas on the beach before heading inland. The mountain town of BaΓ±os is meant to be both beautiful and lively — and prices are blessedly remaining normal for accommodation even on the big day. But New Year’s seems here! What would you do — put up with the hassle and expense of spending New Year’s Eve at the biggest beach party of the year or head for sanity in the mountains?

Anyway, onto the Photo of the Week candidates! To be honest, this week was a collaboration between Anders and I — he took a lot of these photos, while I culled and edited them. As you can see, it was another chilled week hanging out on Mancora and Vichayito beaches in Northern Peru. The perfect way to end my time in the country.

Photo A
Fun on Mancora beach

Photo B

Pelicans in formation

Photo C
The colors of Mancora

Photo D
Sunset at Vichayito Beach

Photo E

Hanging out at

Which photo is your favorite? And what the heck should we do for New Year’s Eve?!

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37 Comments...
  • Melanie Fontaine
    December 22 2013

    My favorite picture is Photo D! I always have a thing for your beach pictures and this looks beautiful! πŸ™‚ I think your decision should depend on how much you would regret not spending New Year’s in this party town – who knows when you will be there again? I always tell myself to splurge for once-in-a-lifetime experiences, unless the price is completely ridiculous, but I’m also pretty strict with what exactly is such an experience πŸ™‚ Whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll have a memorable New Year’s Eve! πŸ™‚
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 22 2013

      I’m a splurger too, definitely! However I feel there is a difference between splurging and being ripped off and I hate paying an exorbitant rate for something of awful value just because it’s a certain date of the year. If we could pay $40 a night for a decent room, that’s one thing. But paying $40 a night for a week for a crap room, ugh, it kills me. And to give you an idea of what a big expense that is in South America, so far I’ve been budgeting $50 a day, and Anders has been budgeting $35!

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    December 22 2013

    D or E! i love your sarong in E, so just photoshop yourself into photo D and wa-la !
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 22 2013

      Ha, I love that sarong too! New purchase πŸ™‚ I just love the reflection in that photo!

  • Stef
    December 22 2013

    I’m for D as well! Have a merry Christmas!
    Stef recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 22 2013

      Thanks Stef, and right back at you!

  • Steve
    December 22 2013

    I’ll choose D. It looks so peaceful. Have a happy Christmas.
    Steve recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 22 2013

      Merry Christmas to you too, Steve! Hope you’re having a great holiday season.

  • Divelicious Chris
    December 22 2013

    I’m on photo C – love the colors!
    And I’d say splurge on the fantastic New Years beach party, I’m sure you’ll be able to earn the money back eventually. And nothing beats New Years on a beach!!

    Ehh, I might be totally off here but I thought your family was going to come down for Christmas? Sorry to rub in it if plans were cancelled for some reason..

    • Meihoukai
      December 22 2013

      Very true — I’ve had New Year’s on the beach the last three years! And yes, my family was hoping to come for Christmas but it just didn’t work out. Work is crazy for my dad, my mom wanted to spend the holiday with my grandma, who has had a rough year, and my sister is leaving for a school/work trip to India on December 26th. So for the first time ever we are all spending Christmas apart! It is a little sad but I know it will make next year when we are all together again all the more special.

      • Divelicious Chris
        December 23 2013

        Sorry to hear that the Christmas plans didn’t work out. But you’re completely right, next year will be so much more special! And you’re with Anders so I’m sure it’ll still be a great Christmas πŸ™‚

  • Ashley
    December 22 2013

    If you think celebrating NYE on that beach would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, then you have to splurge! Although, I can see why you are frustrated about spending $40 for a mattress on the floor- that’s ridiculous.

    But since you’ve spent your last few New Years on the beach, maybe you should head to the mountains. Goodluck with your decision!

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      Thanks Ashley — I’m glad someone else sees the injustice in that pricing!

  • Gaelyn
    December 22 2013

    I’d be heading to the mountains but see you on the beach. As in photo E. And why not splurge, at least to start the new year.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Gaelyn recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      I am quite the ocean lover πŸ™‚ We have been by the sea for two weeks now, though. Maybe time for a change of pace.

  • Breanna
    December 22 2013

    Photo E!!!
    Actually in truth all of them but if i’m forced to pick E.

    As for advice…. If it is your dream to stay at that place for New Years then stay for New Years! I have learned in life there are times in life when a budget is good but other times when you have to kind of just throw it out, or at least put it away. And when else in your life will you have the opportunity to do new years eve there?

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      I definitely believe in splurging when necessary! However I do think I will be back in Ecuador someday, at least I hope, as I’m not getting to the Galapagos this time. Hopefully in the future!

  • Lily
    December 22 2013

    I love the bouganville and the tuk tuk in photo C!
    And how rude that they crank prices like that during New Year πŸ™ Can’t you camp?
    I hope it all works out – enjoy the beach and a very merry Christmas and “god jul” to you and Anders
    Lily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      We don’t have tents or any camping stuff… and while I’m down to sleep in a tent for a few nights a week is pushing it for me πŸ™‚ Thanks for the holiday well wishes!

  • Sarah Somewhere
    December 22 2013

    E because you’re just so cute and I love that shot of you in that gorgeous place! New year is a tough one… Now, I’d give the party a wide berth but at your age I probably would have gone with the mattress on the floor. You will only be there to crash and I’m sure there are some nice places on the beach to hang out during the day. Unfortunately it’s the season to be ripped off, it might just be better to accept that and make up for the extra expense later. Look forward to seeing what you decide! Feliz Navidad πŸ™‚
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      That is true, I’m not one to complain about roughing it every once in a while (actually, I loved my mattresses on the floor in Indonesia… for three months!) It’s more the atmosphere. I would splurge in a second for a bed in the lively hostels around here, but those are long since booked up and what’s left is more isolated rooms. I guess that is the other element I didn’t manage to voice in this post — as it is just the two of us (I’m used to spending NYE with a big group of friends!) I want to be somewhere fairly social. When I think back to the Full Moon Parties in Thailand, which this is similar to, I always loved going in a group but can’t imagine having had as much fun as a couple. Does that make sense? I just get that feeling!

  • Dad
    December 23 2013

    D or E. E because you are in it and the reflection follows a theme you have been using of capturing reflections but you look a little sad. D is intriguing because the beach is deserted at sunset (or is it sunrise?). As for New Years Eve…the beach!! While I miss you regardless of whether it is Christmas or not I still feel close to you in spirit and through your blog, Skype and emails. Between Mom, Liv and I we are spending this Christmas with other family members we usually don’t see this time of year by traveling to them. And we all feel like we are with you because we are sharing your adventure with us and the world of followers you have. Love and Merry Christmas to you and Anders.

  • Hogga
    December 23 2013

    photo D all the way

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      Can you believe I took it with my iPhone?

  • Kiara Gallop
    December 23 2013

    I love the tuk tuk and the colourful flowers and the sea in the background of photo C but also love the peace and tranquility depicted in photo E. As for NYE I hate decisions like that. I always worry that if I splurge and then don’t have the amazing time I’m anticipating I’ll be beating myself up about it for ages but if I don’t then I’ll always be thinking about the awesome time I could have had (unless of course you have an amazing time anyway somewhere else) Don’t suppose there are any couchsurfing options around at that time of year? If you could get a couch/mattress for free a couple of nights then it would warant the splurge for the rest of the time. Or room/apartment rentals? But I guess they increase their prices at this time of year too…
    Kiara Gallop recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 23 2013

      I know! The pressure is so darn high on New Year’s Eve! And half the time, at least in my adult life, it’s a letdown. What a weird day.

  • TammyOnTheMove
    December 23 2013

    I’d head to Banos. There is so much outdoorsy type stuff to do there (trekking, rafting, hot springs etc). It is a beautiful little place, well it was in 2008 when I was there anyway.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      Glad to hear a vote of confidence for Banos! It is definitely on our itinerary either way. I’ve heard so many great things about it.

  • Jello
    December 23 2013

    I love all the photos but I would pick E as my favorite mainly because you are in it! Ha! Anyways, would you care to share what editor you use for your photos? It’s okay though if you don’t want to spill. I would perfectly understand πŸ™‚ Have a merry Christmas and a lovely New Year! πŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      Hey Jello! I use Adobe Photoshop. Well, actually I use Adobe Bridge first to crop, color correct in bulk, etc. That I do with every photo, and then a select few I will open in Photoshop if they need additional editing. Sometimes I run actions that I’ve either created or bought, as well, which might be the filter-like effects you see! Hope that helps!

  • Chris
    December 25 2013

    Hmmm, the beach looks gorgeous at dusk, however you look idyllic strolling around in that sarong.

    Screams comfort and relaxation, so i’d have to lean towards that one!
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      Thanks for the vote, Chris πŸ™‚

  • Beth
    December 26 2013

    So many great photo choices this week, but I think I have to go with D! Such beautiful colors!

    As for your NY dilemma … do you know how you would celebrate it if you went to the mountains? Are there worthwhile things to do there?

    I think it’s best to start the year off right (even if that means splurging on a horrific mattress on the floor) and party it up on the beach! πŸ™‚
    Beth recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 26 2013

      Banos (in the mountains) is a bit of a party town as well! It’s a backpacker hotspot as there are tons of cheap adventure activities like biking, hiking, rafting, etc. as well as beautiful surroundings, hot springs, and a lively nightlife. So it’s not a bad Plan B!

  • Jamie
    December 26 2013

    Loving photo C. So unique to a particular location. Although I may need to purchase some of those mustache straws for use at home haha.
    Jamie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 27 2013

      I’m totally in love with them! The menu was so cute — each smoothie offering was a different mustache. I’ll post more about it later πŸ™‚