Afro-Latin Beat

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, June 14, 2004

After all the "fun" of getting the van out of the port, we figured we deserved a day or two on the beach to recover. Although Esmeraldas has a beach area we thought it would be a good idea to find somewhere a little removed from all the shipping, fishing and oil refinery activities. So we headed a little further down the coast to the small resort town of Atacames, which has a more favourable reputation. It is a popular destination for visitors from Quito, as well as from Colombia, and apparently gets very crowded on weekends and holidays. As we would be there in mid-week, and only for a couple of days, it would surely be a nice quiet place to relax.

The northern coast of Ecuador has a high proportion of people of African origin, and the first thing we noticed as we arrived in Atacames was the "beat". The town seemed to be "alive with the sound of music" (but definitely not the Julie Andrews kind) and the Afro-Latin beat went on....and on, and on! Even during the "quiet" weekdays there was dance music from all directions. Every store, restaurant and bar had its ghetto-blaster at full blast offering rap, hip-hop, salsa, reggae or rock (surprisingly, classical didn't seem to make it onto the menu!). There was a natural grace and rhythm to everyone walking down the street, and it varied according to the beat of the nearest source of music. Before we knew it, even our toes were tapping. Luckily, we found a small hotel with nice cabins somewhat back from the oceanfront main street which was the centre of activity, so that we could retreat for some peace and quiet now and again.

As the week progressed, more and more visitors arrived (yes, we know, we were only planning to stay for a day or two, but as usual it somehow turned into six!). The long sandy beach that was relatively deserted on Wednesday, was starting to hum by Friday, and on Saturday afternoon was positively teeming with action. The whole town seemed to be partying on Saturday night, and there was barely room to move on the oceanfront strip, as the bass beat vibrated through the sidewalks. All the local businesses were geared to life on the beach - countless comedores (restaurants and cafés), street-vendors, bars and discos, and beachwear stores were all hustling for business. Sunday morning looked like the proverbial "morning after the night before" with the streets littered with the remnants of the party, but as we sat in a seafront café having a late breakfast we were amazed to see the garbage trucks out cleaning everything up. The bells of the local catholic church were ringing for mass, and for a couple of hours it was a quiet and peaceful Sunday morning.

We spent the week sunbathing, swimming and generally relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere....oh, nearly forgot....and eating and drinking! Seafood of every description was the order of the day. Ceviche (raw fish marinaded in lemon juice spiced up with chillies, and served with a sauce of onions, tomatoes and cilantro) was especially good - made with either shrimps, white fish or shell fish. A huge plate of delicious 'ceviche de camarones' with a cold beer at a sidewalk table watching life go by, just about sums up the joy of life on the beach at Atacames. Of course, there was also the occasional temptation of fresh fruit and ice-cream for desert!

By Sunday afternoon we had managed to get everything re-organized to our satisfaction in the van, had our last swim, and were ready to hit the road. It was time to leave the sun and surf behind, and head back up into the highlands.
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sheilapage
sheilapage on

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would love to connect as we have the African experience and are about to set off for the south american experience and so would love to benefit from your experience - sheilapage@hotmail.com

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