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After a long 8 hour drive yesterday we arrived in Bahia de Caraquez, a small coastal town on the Santa Elena Peninsula. The new roads through Ecuador are great; wide and smoothly paved, though still mostly unpainted and with no road signs anywhere, so you have no idea where you’re going unless you stop to ask.
We were kindly put up at a small apartment belonging to the parents of my sister-in-law. My in-laws were also along for the trip so of course we had some meals together. As it is everywhere I’ve gone in Ecuador, the frying pans were not much more than toys-thin, wimpy things that heat up too much and burn everything. There was no large pan to slowly roast the bacon in the oven, so I took the biggest pan I could find, put it on the tiniest burner at the lowest heat, and moved it around as necessary and took all the time I needed (which was bout 20 minutes) to cook all the bacon. In the same pan I then added the scrambled eggs once the bacon was done and cooked those two. My SIL watched and said the eggs looked weird; I basically ignored her remark because when you add ten eggs to a large, crappy pan without enough heat, they’re going to take forever to cook-like they did-and of course they’re not going to cook up fast like they would have in a proper pan. Anyway, I pulled it all off and was glad to have had the distraction of cooking.
After breakfast we decided to head north, up towards a little beach town called Canoa, about twenty minutes from Bahia. The current government has constructed Ecuador’s longest bridge across the inlet, whereas you used to have to cross by barge with your vehicle. Even I hadn’t been back in 17 years, Bahia doesn’t seem to have changed a whole lot with the exception of this bridge. Canoa was a little better than it used to be; some of the roads are now paved, but it’s still a dusty beach spot with a bunch of crappy restaurants, some gringo backpacker type lodging, and a long wide beach with usually blown out surf. We decided not to stay very long and headed to the next town north-Jama.
Fortunately, the one thing Ecuador’s current president has done is build new roads and while they’re not all finished yet, travel is pretty good. It’s typical here that when you ask someone directions or how much further somewhere is, they’re likely to give you an answer-whether it’s correct or not is up for debate. Jama was supposed to be “another 15 minutes” north but it turned out to be more like 30. We finally got there-another extremely sleepy beach town.
It’s actually one of those spots in Ecuador that neither tourism nor progress seems to have actually touched yet; several dozen fishing boats lined up on the beach, with weatherbeaten fishermen mending their amazingly handmade nets under palm-thatched huts along the beach. The approach is through a bunch of shrimp ponds, and since shrimp farming is a lucrative business, there had to be money somewhere. Actually, along the beach there were a couple of very nice houses with laboratories, probably for shrimp larvae cultivation, alongside them.
A nice stiff breeze was blowing, and the ocean is a large green blue bay that curves for miles. Not a wave in sight. My Son Sebastian and I frolicked in the water a while, I flew my kite a few minutes, then swam some more. The others walked along the beach or sat on the sand. We stayed no more than an hour.
We headed back to Bahia. We finally stopped for lunch in what looked like a nice hotel, but the food did not measure up to the appearance of the hotel. Didn’t really surpass mediocre. Sebastian was hungry and furious and finally calmed down after getting some food in him; but even he commented that it tasted “weird.” So it is having kids with a gourmet palate. The next days adventures were a bit more scenic, so look for photos in tomorrow’s post!