On January 2, 2016 our plane landed in Guayaquil, on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, and our adventure began. The first thing I noticed when we went outside was how hot and humid it was – and there were palm trees by the entrance! We just left Nova Scotia, Canada where there was snow on the ground and the temperature was minus 10C.
After almost 24 hours of traveling – a lot of that time waiting in airports – we were tired and the first thing we wanted to do was jump in the shower, eat, and then sleep! We were supposed to have a driver pick us up at the airport but guess what, no driver! We finally got in contact with him and he thought our plane was landing at 12:30 AM not 12:30 PM. Ha-ha, and welcome to Ecuador!
At long last, he picked us up and we headed to his Bed & Breakfast for the night. Ahhh! A shower, air-conditioning, and a bed. Yes! After showering, we decided to venture out and find something to eat. Not being too sure about the neighbourhood we were in, and reading all kinds of warnings about how dangerous Guayaquil is, we didn’t venture too far. The few restaurants that we found looked a little sketchy, so we ended up eating at a gas station named, believe it or not, ‘On the Run’ – in English.
On the way back to our room, we picked up a few snacks and beer from a “tienda” and settled in for the night. Boy, it was hot! Being on the coast, Guayaquil is very humid as well. Finally, I had a wonderful sleep – in our air-conditioned room.
We were up early the next morning and on our way again. We were heading to the coastal town of San Jacinto, about 220 km north of Guayaquil. First, Jorge, our driver, took us out for breakfast at a tiny little family run restaurant. We had “desayuno”, which consisted of eggs, meat of our choice, rice, beans, bread, juice, and our first experience with Ecuadorian coffee – “cafe con leche”. This was a cup of hot milk with a separate cup of espresso on the side, which you mix together.
We had so much food; we could not eat it all. It was delicious but the coffee was, meh, so-so. I like my coffee with a little milk, not milk with a little coffee, ha. When you order coffee here, you never know what you are going to get. Ecuador is known for great coffee but for some reason it’s really had to find a good cup of coffee at a restaurant here.
After about 3 hours, we arrived at our destination. The owners of the cottage where we were staying were there to greet us with cold beer in hand – yes, a welcomed sight! After meeting the caretakers and other guests, we unpacked and then went exploring.
San Jacinto, San Alejo, and San Clemente are three small coastal communities that are very close together, within walking distance of each other. We walked from one end to the other. The beach there is fantastic – it goes on for miles. We walked the beach for a while, sat, rested, and loved feeling the sand between our toes – much better than snow on our boots!
We did a lot of walking through the narrow rocky streets, tried out a lot of the local cuisine, walked the beach every day, and relaxed by the small pool where we were staying. One day we walked to “La Boca”, a stretch of beach just south of San Jacinto and north of the mouth of the Portoviejo River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean.
At the end of the beach a trail takes you into a growth of mangroves. They are salt-tolerant trees that have adapted to life in harsh coastal conditions. It is a short but very interesting trail, with boardwalks to lead you through the swamp.
On another day, we were relaxing under the shade of a bamboo shelter at the northern end of a beach called Punta Bikini, when a rogue wave came in and washed away my shoes – with my cell phone in one of them!! I learned a valuable lesson that day – never trust the waves!
Unfortunately, our stay in San Jacinto was only a short one. In the ten days that we were there we did meet some very nice people and really enjoyed the beach, the weather, fresh fruits and vegetables every day and the beautiful flowers, plants and bird life.
We also had some hard times, dealing with culture shock, missing family and friends, not speaking Spanish, and being deceived by our North American landlords. Because of the latter, we decided to move on. So down the coast we went to Puerto López and more adventures.
Stay tuned for part two: Moving to Puerto López – including a major earthquake!