Traveling down the mountains from Quito to the coast, a small surf town awaits with the promise of ultimate rest and relaxation in Canoa.
Traveling to the beach is a bumpy, winding ride through towns down the mountains. It typically takes between 7 and 10 hours and depending on your bus company, this can either be 8 hours of shut-eye, or 8-hours of pure torture; I have experienced both. Needless to say, this is not exactly an easy weekend trip. But, with a 4-day weekend for the Easter holiday, we were able to bust out the bikinis and sunscreen.
The beach is the undisputable favorite place for almost any Ecuadorian. I always ask my students if they could travel one place in the world, where would they go? 80% say the beach. The hot spot for college aged students and young adults is Montanita, which is a party town on the beach. However, that was not exactly what we were looking for. I wanted a place where I could read a book or two, catch some rays, and enjoy some seafood. Canoa was the place.
Canoa is a smaller beach town, although much larger than my previous beach experience in Puerto Lopez. There were “cabanas” that you could rent to escape the sun for a few dollars every day (a yard chair with a sheet overhead), and the weather was perfect. Okay, it was really hot and even staying under the cabana ALL DAY I got sunburned. We spent our time drinking the freshest piña coladas known to man, attempting to avoid the harsh sun, and playing in the strong surf.
I also went for a few walks down the beach and found tons of sand dollars! They certainly weren’t as perfectly white and round as the sand dollars on Sanibel Island. They were dirty, many of them cracked, and many had holes in them. But, they were enormous. I found one the size of a dessert plate! This to me was the difference between Ecuador and the United States, symbolized in a sand dollar. We aim at perfection. On the other hand, Ecuador is a little more rough around the edges, a little dirtier, and more flawed. But, we are made of the same stuff.
Honestly, the best part about the beach is the food! Cevicherias were right off the beach offering fresh fish or shrimp ceviche. Breakfasts were tigrillo, or mashed, fried plantains with eggs, and dinners were seafood fried rice or fish.
Knowing how important Spartan basketball is, we were even able to find a bar that had Direct TV. While the commentary was in Spanish, the game was the same, horrible game. But, we got to watch it while eating a burger and drinking a beer, so it was basically like we were home.
That was probably my last trip to the Ecaudorian beach. I am not sure if my body can take that travel or the sun anymore. But, Canoa left me with salt in my hair and sand between my toes and it was a welcome distraction as I close in on my last month and a half in Ecuador.