Most tourists go to Puerto Lopez for things that surround the town. Isla de Plata is an island where you can see blue footed boobies, just like in the Galapagos. In the summer, you can see whales migrating north. A few kilometers up the road is the beach Los Frailes, which my new friends on the bus ride to Guayaquil had told me was a must see. Puerto Lopez is also one of the closest towns to the national park Machalilla, where indigenous people still live in the old ways.
Walking down the dirt road to find a restaurant, pharmacy, internet cafe, or the like, I was asked plenty of times which of these tours I wanted to do. I met Paco, who owned a boat his son captained, and decided to hire him to go fishing, mostly to make my brother-in-law Josh jealous.
On the same street, I ran into Daniel, a Canadian staying in the neighboring cabaña at Mandala. Dan asked me to join him at his table, and within an hour he had decided to go fishing with me.
We were picked up at Mandala by a taxi at 6:00 am (actually, Ecuadorian time runs a little slow, it was closer to 6:15). The taxi dropped us off at the pier, where Paco met us and called his son over. Soon we were racing out, in waves as big as the boat, to Isla Salango. We trolled for about three hours, bouncing in the waves, seeing some sea lions, looking at the beauty of the island, and mostly just waiting for something to hit one of the lines.
Whhiiizzzzz. Something had hit our line. I jumped up, grabbed the pole and mounted it in the harness I was wearing around my waist, and began to reel. The boat was rocking hard, as if I were standing on a mechanical bull. I paused to catch my balance, and when I started reeling again, the line was slack. My sea monster had gotten away.
“Next time, reel faster. If you stop, the fish will go away,” said our captain.
Good advice. An hour later, we heard the line whizzing again, I jumped up, bolted the pole on, and reeled as fast as I could. Jumping out of a wave was a long, narrow fish, that at first I thought was an eel. As I pulled it on board, it looked more like a barracuda, with a long nose and blue teeth! They told me the name about 50 times, but I still can’t remember what it was called.
By the end of our trip, Dan had also caught a small grouper which we donated to the captain. My blue-teethed monster we carried back to the hotel. That night we each had a big filet, and as per our instructions, they used the rest of the fish to make a ceviche. Eating it, we could see that its bones were also blue, which made it easy to pick them out against the white flesh. It was quite tasty.