14.03.2013 - 22.03.2013
We have been in Ecuador for a week now, taking the less-common coastal route. We're saving the mountains for the trip back. There is a lot of money being spent on roads, which are generally good except for some particularly nasty, camouflaged speed bumps.
There is no way to sugar-coat this. The beaches and towns in Ecuador north of say, Pedernales, are disgusting. Yes, I sound like a fussy gringo, but I think I have a pretty high tolerance for cultural differences. I don't mind cold showers in hot climates, love street food, and much prefer local joints where only Spanish is spoken to an ex-pat hangout. I shake my head at trash on a beach, but acknowledge that it is a way of life in many parts of the world. However, when a place smells like a combination of rotting something-or-other, stagnant river water, and urine, all the time, my tolerance ends. When there are puddles that cause me to shudder at the thought of the pups walking through, it's time to move on down the road.
Nevertheless, we stayed 3 nights in Atacames, thanks solely to the nice hostel at which we were staying, and the terrific innkeeper. Our hostel mates included Boston College students spending a semester in Quito, and a couple Argentinian dudes, one of whom is 6'7" and has spent the past few years playing basketball in Italy. They kept things lively. And there was a resident dog who was very pleased to have two new playmates for a couple days.
Next, we spent several fun, laid-back days in the surfing town of Canoa. Clean beach, nice waves, fun folks, naps in hammocks, sunsets, great happy hours . . .
And now we are in the port city of Manta. We'll keep you posted.