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More Mediocre Beaches

and a million more mosquitoes

sunny

There was no way we were going to make it to Atacames in one day, not on the route we took, so we were forced to spend the night in the nearby town of Esmeraldas. It is the capital of the province which shares its name; one of the poorest in Ecuador. This didn't become apparent until the next morning though as we arrived by dark and took a taxi straight to a hotel. However there were indications that it was a slightly dodgy place, for example the security guard outside the hotel holding a massive machete. In the morning we only explored a tiny part as we went in search of food. From what we saw it is a bustling town with lots of market stalls set out along the streets but if you look closer there were the tell tale signs of poverty. A number of beggars, crumbling buildings and dirty streets.

After a quick take away breakfast we went back to the terminal and hopped on a bus to Atacames. It is 25km away from Esmeraldas and is a party spot for Ecuadorians during the high season. We weren't totally sure what to expect but I had images of high rise buildings and a good atmosphere. Both of us were intrigued to see how Ecuadorians enjoy the sea side but we were a little bit unsure when we arrived as the town seemed quite run down and it was a bit walk to the beach. Here we did find a number of hotels, some nicer than others and a lot of bars/restaurants. After wandering up and down a bit, avoiding the men trying to direct us into certain establishments, we found a room in a nice hotel which had a pool, a bit of a novelty for us.

We settled in and then went out to get some lunch. I had a fish ceviche and Adam tried a ceviche made of concha, a shell fish in a kind of black goop which didn't make for the most visually appealing dish but Adam said it was nice. Our appetites satisfied we walked a long the very busy beach and watched some of the kids body boarding, the waves were much better here. Neither of us felt very enticed to sit there with the masses for long though and we ending up opting for a swim in the sand free pool instead. Then we spent some time in the room enjoying the a/c before popping out for some dinner. Things seemed to be heating up at the beach side bars but it didn't really seem like our scene and it was likely to be pricey, Ecuador just isn't that cheap.

The following morning we decided a quieter beach experience was what we were in search of and so we caught a bus to Muisne. You can only go so far on the bus, you then have to take a very short boat ride across the estuary to reach Muisne Island. On the island we jumped in to a moto tricycle being driven by Ricardo who chatted away as he took us down to the beach. He explained that he could take us on a little trip to see the mangroves in the morning and once we had found a cheap room we agreed to go at 8am. Muisne beach is very undeveloped, there are only three hotels and we were certainly in the most run down but it had quite a nice atmosphere. The beach itself is lovely and it has a very local feel about it. Once we'd dumped the bags we went to get some lunch and on the way out we enquired about a deep sea fishing trip we'd seen advertised on the board in the hotel. The guy we asked looked a little unsure, as if this enquiry was made very rarely and in the end told us it was $80 which immediately took it out of our price bracket. Adam was a bit disappointed.

Thankfully lunch wasn't too expensive, was really tasty and served to us on the beach. Very nice. After lunch we headed back to the room and then Adam went in the sea for a quick dip as the sun set.
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I was nursing some sun burn and was therefore avoiding exposing my sore skin. It was lovely to sit there though on such a peaceful beach and watch the sun, glowing like the embers at the end of a fire, glinting off the waves. Then to top it all off a cow walked right in front of me, I like cows.
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We returned to the same restaurant for dinner as there wasn't a lot of choice and we chatted in broken Spanish to an Ecuadorian man and also a French man who'd been living in Ecuador for a number of years. It's a shame we couldn't have had more of a flowing conversation but it was nice none the less. The Ecuadorian man was quite tipsy anyway so I don't think it really bothered him. Back in the room it was another stuffy night under a mosquito net with no fan.

In the morning Ricardo was there to take us down to the mangroves. We headed off along the sand until we reached the end of the beach, where the estuary met the ocean. Firstly he showed us a small shrimp farm which basically consisted of a number of ponds. He explained that they start growing the shrimp in a laboratory and then transfered them to the ponds. They are then fed until it's time to harvest them with nets. After this we headed towards the mangroves and there was a bit of confusion as Ricardo really only spoke Spanish.
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He seemed to be saying if we went in amongst them we would have to go waist deep into water/mud and so we began to take off our clothes so we would just been in a swimming stuff. Then I'm not sure what happened but he seemed to change his mind, like he wasn't really expecting us to be up for it and we just went in a little way. This was probably a good thing because we were only in there for about two minutes and the mosquitoes were ferocious, they were biting us all over. We hurried out and Ricardo seemed a bit sorry, he explained there were very few the day before. Not being able to really go in to the mangroves brought the tour to an abrupt end and we were soon in the tricycle on our way back. Although Muisne was nice we were quite conscious of time and it wasn't the sunny beach with crystal water we were looking for. That was hopefully awaiting us in the north of Colombia with its Caribbean coastline which we were both eager to reach and so we decided to leave Muisne after the tour. Ricardo gave us a lift back to the dock and from here we could have caught a boat to our next destination of Mompiche, which Ricardo seemed eager to organize but the prices were too high. Instead we were once more on the bus and we had to change at a junction called El Salto. Here a massive policeman of Afro-Caribbean descent with huge muscles, bigger than either of us have ever seen, let us sit in his little office while we waited. We chatted a bit, mainly about how there were no street dogs in England but that we liked them, I think I will miss seeing doggies running about the place.

We did have high hopes for our final beach stop in Ecuador but unfortunately once again our expectations were not met. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon so it was quite busy but we couldn't exactly see the big draw to this particular beach/place. We found a room after a bit of trudging through sand and resigned ourselves once again to a sweaty night under a mosquito net with no fan. We headed out for some lunch which was alright and then went in the sea for a bit of a splash about. The sea was really coming in though and by the time we got out there was basically no beach left. We went back to the room for a while and I wrote some of the blog until our tummies alerted us to the fact that it was dinner time. Wanting a bit of variety we tried to go to a different restaurant but they just shook their heads at us so we returned to our lunchtime haunt. The woman looked pretty disgruntled about having to serve us and although Encocado de Cameron was on the menu I was informed it was not available. Still we had some quite nice garlic prawns and rounded the evening off with a couple of tasty jugos naturales (natural fruit juices) from a street vendor. They put condensed milk in them though so they're not as healthy as you may like to think but yummy nonetheless.

Sleeping was not only made difficult by the stuffy conditions but also a loud group of people decided to gather outside our door and play music all night. We later realised that one sub group had chosen to stay up all night because they were catching a really early bus. I love how considerate other people can be. Suffice to say we were a little grumpy by morning and were ready to move on again in search of some peace and quiet.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 15:49 Archived in Ecuador Tagged round_the_world

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