Puerto Amistad – House of Martin s

Sun 10 Apr 2016 12:35

Puerto Amistad – House of Martins

From Bahia a visitor can take a journey to nearby National Parks where a vast variety of indigenous birds will be spotted, heaven for birders (the US term) and twitchers ( from the UK) alike; however right around here, in the estuary, around town and in the club locale there is a wonderful variety.

We wake up to the chirping of sparrows sitting on the boom. White egrets and beautiful grey and black herons with a single long white feather from their head hanging down their back, stand on the rocks or moored craft at the pontoon landing. Curlews fish alongside human fishermen near and under the clubhouse which is on stilts, big vultures scavenge with the beach crabs, picking over fish corpses and there are numerous birds I have never seen before.

In town pretty canary like birds with orange beaks are fearless and continue their foraging as we walk past.

We walked across the long bridge recently, while it was cloudy so we wouldn’t be roasted by the sun. The sand bank mid-river was vast and curlews walked stooping and pecking at the sand. A lorry passed us with a big grey cow tethered in the back, she didn’t look too pleased and we wondered how they got her up into the back, with a steep ramp and a lot of huffing and puffing I guess.

We have worked steadily for the leaving of Zoonie. We changed the engine and gearbox oils and filters and while I washed Zoonie’s interior woodwork down with bleach and water as it was gathering mould and mildew in the more airless corners Rob has poured many blue plastic containers of water into the tanks and topped up the diesel. Ariosto and Andreas bring the water to the boats and then collect the empties and they fill our own jerry cans of fuel.

We have watched the comings and goings of other yachts. Kim and Katelina set off and Steve from Florida left a few days ago, retracing their inward track for a safe route to the ocean. They both headed south to find the SE trades that are in the ascent for the season. By the time we leave they should be well established hopefully.

Joe, on his pretty steel boat is planning to immigrate here. Not sure if I have mentioned but the Ecuador government has a strange, communistic way of welcoming foreigners who wish to settle here by claiming ownership over their vessels. The only way to get the boat back is to buy it at its market value from the government. Consequently Joe is going to sail his back to his brothers in Alaska before returning to live. He leaves next week. He came aboard recently and helped Rob establish that the fault with the windlass is either the switch or the solenoid or both, so we are hoping to obtain replacements while in the UK.

Three big cats arrived, two with charming French couples on board who are always game for a chat. Two boats have now been left for a few weeks in PA’s safe hands. Rita and her husband are German and they have gone off to explore the Amazon a week ahead of us. We don’t imagine we will come across them as it’s the second longest river in the world at 4010 miles, the Nile is 4140 miles long. But then stranger things have and will happen, like our good friends Allen and Lorna Kelly from Oakham will arrive at Machu Picchu on the same morning as us!

We have finished our stores shopping for the next six months at a cost of just over $600. In finding room for it all we have opened up four new areas under the aft cabin floors, cleaned them of their dust and oil and will be able to store cartons of milk and fruit juice and packs of pasta and rice in them.

We took a day off and climbed aboard the bus for Canoa, a back-packers haven with a beautiful beach just up the coast a few miles. The ride itself, through the estuary town of San Vicente, opposite Bahia and then out along the coast and through lush green countryside was worth the few dollars in itself.

Many people have told us that just a few weeks ago, in the wet season which is now ending, all the green was brown and parched. But now it rains hard every night in the early hours. (So as soon as we feel the rain on our legs it wakes us up we have to dash around closing all the hatches and windows because just as Zoonie is designed to shed water that comes from below, she takes it directly in when it comes from above – but that’s and aside).

Canoa is full of hostels submerged in lush, mature tropical foliage, from which colourful hammocks swing, some occupied. There are thriving little businesses catering for the many young visitors who stay in this gem of a place as they plod around their chosen route. Surf shops, cafes, restaurants alongside mini supermarkets and stalls selling fruit veg, smoothies and juices. Yoga and Spanish classes advertised on hand painted boards.

We were strolling down the wide hard packed sand road next to the beach when a dog fight broke out. A woman started shouting in English for them to stop but it continued until the defeated dog, with his ear in bloody ribbons, escaped. Despite calling him he would not come to the woman and instead trotted off down the road shaking his head every few moments, poor thing.

I haven’t heard so many English speakers, not American accents, since we left the UK. It must be well up on the Googled circuit for globe trotters from the UK.

We paddled back along the beach with its long and lovely rollers curling towards the shore spotted with some very proficient surfers. At the far end we had a $5 lunch in the Bamboo hotel. Soup, shrimp salad and carrot cake in nice small portions suited us well. This has clearly been an established off the beaten track little town for many years.

After relaxing back on board for a while we went ashore for a shower and then a drink with Tripp, Steven, Sandra and Jules. The bar roof is made of stout bamboo and its hollow stems provide ideal nesting locations for what we have now identified as House Martins. How appropriate, house martins resident in the homely club owned and run by Tripp and Maye Martin. When Emily was a little girl I used to take her to forest classes in the New Forest run by a lady with the surname Drake.

We bought the usual 6 postcards while in Canoa and I wrote them sitting on board Zoonie. We then went to the PO to buy stamps. At $8.30 (£6.00ish)each we thought we’d try again in Guayaquil and if they really are that price the cards might well fall onto the doormats with the queens head on the stamps!

Recovering over two iced coffees in Henry’s Bar we were treated to Tory’s delicious chocolate cake still warm and very moist from the oven. She invited us to her first yoga class the next day to take place in the ocean facing room of the Hotel on the beach opposite where we had turned Zoonie on our way in to motor around the headland on our arrival.

We were following Tory’s lead in the exercises knowing that Steve had set off on his journey to the Marquesas at about the same time and sure enough he motored gently past the open window behind Tory, just a few metres from us. It was almost surreal, this world of ancient yoga meeting Steve’s present day ocean odyssey.