On Monday (2/18), Don and I joined six or so other boaters for a day long
tour through the countryside of Ecuador in a van (air conditioned - wow!).
Our tour guide's name was Jessica and she is a part-time marine biologist
at the local university (whales are her specialty). She speaks very good
English and acts as a tour guide when groups like us come into the area.
We set off from La Libertad and made our way through Salinas, which is a
nearby resort town (hmmm, wonder why the rally didn't put us in that
harbor??), and then north up the coast on a very bumpy, sometimes dirt
road, through various fishing villages and beach towns.
Picture 1 is representative of quite a few of the towns we saw that day.
Obviously not very prosperous. Jessica told us that the minimum wage in
Ecuador amounts to $120 per month. Hardly enough to live on given that
the prices for food, etc. are lower than in the US, but not that much
lower (with the exception of diesel fuel, which we paid only $1.05/gallon
for). The people in these areas may be extremely poor, but those we ran
into along the way that day were more than friendly, helpful and very
pleased to have their picture taken, as you will see.
At mid-morning, we stopped at an extremely unique
hotel/restaurant/bar/nautical museum/shop (picture 2). The whole complex
is owned by a retired Ecuadorian merchant marine captain and his wife.
One of the other boaters, Martin from Graptolite, described this captain
in his blog as 'one plank short of a full deck'. I don't know that we
would be quite as harsh, but we would definitely call him a character.
His collection of nautical items was impressive and everything displayed
in the 'museum' was for sale. So, if anyone would like a giant lantern,
maidenhead (very voluptuous), ships wheel or old sextant, we know just the
place. The bar was something (picture 3) and all the men got a big kick
out of the men's bathroom sign (upper left-hand side of the picture, right
above the arrow).
For lunch we stopped at a beach town/fishing village and ate at a place
our tour guide described as 'rustic'. Rosita's Restaurant (picture 4) was
an open-air affair with a dirt floor, plastic chairs and plenty of flies
to go around. Our meal was prepared over an open wood fire in a giant
pan. Breaded and pan-fried shrimp (fresh from the sea), grilled plaintans
(a kind of banana), rice, salad and beer - all for $4. Picture 5 shows
the owner Rosita fanning the flames of the wood fire. She was perfectly
happy to have her picture taken and posed specifically for us. The meal
was excellent, better than the dinner we had at a 'fancy' restaurant in
Salinas later that night. The smoke from the wood fire kept most of the
flies away, so as long as we could see through the tears the wood smoke
caused us to shed, we were fine.
As we were sitting at the lunch table, several jewelry vendors came by,
which drew a crowd of local girls (the kids are currently on 'summer'
vacation). Volka, a German boater famous for his charm and bright yellow
Croc shoes, soon moved in and had all the local young girls captivated -
After lunch, we stopped along the pitted semi-dirt road in an area that
seemed to be somewhat touristy. There were three open-air shops - one for
Panama hats (which by the way, are actually all made in Ecuador) and two
for women's clothing. There was also an incredibly quaint
bar/restaurant/hotel lounge complete with palm tree stumps for seats and a
couple of beach cabanas for rent. The owner of the cabanas was nice
enough to give us a quick tour, picture 7. The cabanas were incredibly
cute, clean and crammed with a double bed as well as two bunk beds and a
tiny bathroom. The cost per night was quoted as $25/night for a couple
and $35/night for a family of four. Not a bad deal. While the owner
proudly showed us the cabanas, his son was held in check by the
grandfather. The grandfather was all smiles (toothless) and indicated
that we could take his picture with his grandson - picture 8. He posed
for us (the hand is waving, not telling us to stop as it looks like it is
doing), and laughed when he saw his image displayed on all of our digital
The last stop was a catholic church (lots of them here) built high on a
cliff overlooking the shore. The sanctuary was open-air and filled with
flowers. Very pretty. Picture 9 is the view from the sanctuary with an
Ecuadorian boy looking on.
After leaving the church, we took a turn through a surfing resort town,
which looked like pure nirvana for those in their twenties. A mud road
flanked by thatch-roofed open-air bars and restaurants on either side and
filled to the brim with tan, fit, twenty-something girls and guys from all
over South, Central and North America running around in bathing suits. As
I said, pure heaven for the youngsters -made us retirees feel very, very
old. According to our guide, this particular area is one of the best
surfing locations in all of South America.
So ended our Ecuadorian country tour. An interesting view of the country.
Made us wonder why we need to have so much stuff. These people have
basically nothing and seem to be doing ok.