Some local fun in Atacames
Trip Start Jul 19, 2006
22Trip End Sep 19, 2006
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We ended up using the Trans Esmeraldas bus line to get to Esmeraldas, and it was by far the nicest bus we have been on during the entire trip. The seats were comfortable and spacious, they actually put ID stickers on our bags underneath the bus and gave us stickers for claiming them, they had 2 flat screen flip-down TV's in the aisle, and the bus attendant (I still don't know what to call the guy on every bus who collects tickets and yells the bus destination out the door every time we drive through a city) came to each of our seats and poured us a small cup of Coke. This was classy.
That being said, I will make another comment about buses in Ecuador
We arrived in Esmeraldas sometime around midnight and took a taxi for the 15-20 mile trip to Atacames (this cost us $10). Upon arrival we had to cross a foot bridge that connects the beach peninsula to the mainland (or was it an island? I don't know..) The beach was hopping with Ecuadorians. We were there around 1am on a Saturday night during the peak season. We were carrying our large red packs on us as we would be continuing from Atacames down through southern Ecuador and into Peru. We were two americans bobbing up and down in a sea of locals.
Every hostel was packed full. Some of the owners seemed to even take joy in telling us how full they were. We walked into the entrance for one hostel and a man came up to us speaking broken english that he appeared to be very proud of
After that, we decided we'd have to get away from the strip along the beach if we wanted to actually sleep. The streets were buzzing with people, but also with mototaxis (or ecotaxis). They were basically motorcycle/carriage hybrids with a driver sitting on the motorcycle seat that was resting on the back tire and a 2-person carriage with 2 wheels replacing the front tire of the bike. Some were powered by motor, others were effectively a bicycle that would make you feel bad for the poor guy who has to pedal your lazy sack of tourist weight. We went with the motorized one. It cost us a couple of dollars to go maybe 15 minutes away from the beach where we stayed at a small hotel along the main road.
Wake up. Food. Beach. Rent boogie boards/beach chairs. Swim. Wander around Atacames strip. Dinner. Bars. Sleep. Repeat.
That's how we spent 4 days in Atacames. There were very few foreigners in this town as it was mainly dominated by local vacationers
One night I met a guy named Victor who was from Esmeraldas originally but is currently studying in Buenos Aires. He told me all about how he thinks there should be no poverty in the world (he is very wealthy, his dad owns the nicest hotel in Atacames), and how wealthier people should be giving to those who are less fortunate (he was at a beach town drinking all night), and how the government needs to do something to help people (he had no real solutions here that I could see). He said he was writing a novel for his thesis that would be famous soon. He said it will be called El Código Real (The Real Code). He told me about all the things that are wrong with the Da Vinci Code and how he has done a lot of research etc etc etc. Brett thought he was going to try to rape us. I did not accept any drinks from him and eventually got away by saying that I would read his book when it comes out (which is true, but I don't think it will ever come out) and that I had to call my girlfriend (which was also true, but I'm sorry for using you to escape a possible rape/robbery, Jamie...I'll never do it again).
I bought a replacement wallet from one of the street vendors. It actually looks pretty cool. I am slowly trying to replace all of the possessions that I donated to the Colombian youth in the jungle. Brett bought a loose white shirt to go with his loose white pants that he got in Otavalo
After we started to recognize too many people at the bars each night, we decided it was about time to leave. Our next stop would be Montañita, a beach in the south that is known for its surfing and pancakes apparently. Weird. I can't wait.
Bus from Quito to Esmeraldas: $8, 8 hours.
Taxi from Esmeraldas to Atacames: $10, 30mins.
Hostal first night: $10 each (they can charge whatever they want).
Hostal Ficus for remaining non-weekend nights: $5 each (this one was right by the beach...during weekdays it's a lot cheaper).
Food: Generally $4-6 for a meal.