As my journey took me from central Ecuador in Quito, to the very west at la costa, the humidity and heat kicked in as the landscape changed and the mountains disappeared. Banana groves are suddenly everywhere. Ecuador’s northern coast from the Columbian border south to Manta, is a land of massive mangroves, vast beaches and Afro-Ecuadorian culture. Canoa is no exception. It lies a couple hundred kilometers south of the Equator (aka Ecuador) and a few hours north of Manta. Seafood is on the menu, caught fresh each day – fish, crab, shrimp. Each day in the late afternoon, a modest fishing boat returns from the ocean and locals quickly surround it on the beach to get the best picks of the day.
Canoa is a relatively small surfer town with only a few streets, most of them sand and no bank.
It is a perfect size for my liking. It is literally right on the coast and the daytime temperature ranges 26 degrees C to 30 and somewhat humid, but with the welcoming west wind coming in, the weather is divine. I can walk barefoot anywhere too, which is great for my soul. It is the earth after all.
Canoa is quiet but also has enough beach bars and restaurants to keep you going for sure. I have been surfing, laying in my hammock, walking on the beach, watching the sunset (more on sunsets in the next post), having a few drinks, wandering and taking it easy really. It’s been great.
The locals are a range of people from the Afro-Ecuadorians surfers with blond hair that have grown up here to Ecuadorians from other regions who have moved to the coast for the more relaxed life, some hippies and of course there is a share of gringos, whether they are tourists or expats. There are also Ecuadorians and South Americans vacationing here. Everyone is lovely here, very friendly and open, and there is very much an integration of everyone here which is stellar.
I met a couple English blokes, who are top blokes and we have become regulars at this beach bar called Suki Bar. It is run by an Ecuadorian-English couple. A chica Lilly works there as well who is very sweet. She moved from the big city of Guayaquil 2 years ago by herself. She doesn’t speak any English so we both stumble over words and try to learn. It’s a great way to practice Spanish – sitting at a bar on the beach.
So I have had a few great nights of late here, over the weekend. There has been copious amounts of strong cocktails consumed, while enjoying Suki Bar and the array of people it attracts. We also checked out the beachside discos and watched the locals enjoy themselves, just as we do, drinking and dancing. This town is like most, where the weekend is bumping as Ecuadorians flock and the weekdays are quiet with a few vacationers left.
On the Saturday night, bars close at 2am and the police are on it to be sure Canoa doesn’t become a loud party town. But what happens is that some bars just close their gates, turn down the music and the party continues with whomever is in there. We made an attempt at this at this bamboo bar on Saturday. Every 5 mins or so though, the bartender would be like “shhhh, shhh” as the police were still about, then it wasn’t long until there was a knock on the gate of the bar. All of us patrons quickly got shuffled out the back door and the party was over. The bar owner ended up getting penalized apparently and had to shut for 8 days but not to worry that didn’t last as the bar is already open again. Then we all ended up the beach for a while. I didn’t make it until sunset, I had a bit more sense than that. It’s been a grand time here and it’s been good for me – what I needed, let loose a little while chillin’ like a villain.
On Saturday a group of Ecuadorian cowboys known as chagras, took the streets of Canoa. They were mostly dressed as you may expect in their chaps, cowboy hats, and shirts all while dancing around on their horses and passing around several whiskey bottles, taking turns to take a guzzle. It attracted quite a few onlookers but a lot of the locals did not looked impressed. From my what I could tell, they were just prancing around on a day out from wherever their hacienda is – drinking, having a good time, craving some attention and attracting it for sure. Nonetheless, it was interesting.
A few more photos from my wanders in Canoa…