Monday, February 3, 2014

Two Tiny Ecuadorian Surf Villages: Mompiche and Engabao

For the locals, these are fishing villages, but for us, it was all about the surf. Until 6 years ago, there wasn't even a road to the little town of Mompiche. It was perfect for us. It is still fairly gritty and has few services compared to it's famous surf neighbors further south (Canoa and Montanita). We ended up spending 3 weeks in Mompiche.

Sunflowers in Mompiche

Heather getting back to her roots

The end to another lazy day in Mompiche

The town has a hippyish, relaxed vibe, where everyone walks barefoot through the sandy streets. The tap water is almost as salty as the ocean. Many of the residents of Mompiche are of African descent, which is common of the northern beaches in Ecuador. Mompiche is also notably poor - most of the residents who live behind the hotels, hostels, and restaurants, live in bamboo houses on stilts. As for climate, the north coast is quite a contrast to the central and southern coast. These northern regions are quite green, humid, and tropical.

Great quote.. a non-literal translatation is something like, "Lift your anchor in order to get somewhere"

Life imitating art

Mompiche is where we finally tried bolones (we call them "fry biscuits"). Balones are smashed plantain dough stuffed with cheese and/or other goodies and, of course, FRIED. In Mompiche, the extra goody was tuna. Each one set us back a dollar. We learned about balones from a fellow traveler who happens to be a plantain and balone connoisseur.

Two different kinds of fry biscuits. Tuna-filled and cheese-filled. YUM!

While we were surfing and lazing about Mompiche, Christmas and New Years Eve passed us by. We didn't end up doing anything special for either. We were apprehensive about spending the holidays on the beach, as this is the most crowded time of the year. The day we arrived to our hotel/campground, we were the only ones parked in the lot. As expected, a few days later, the Ecuadorians, and a few other South Americans, arrived in droves. We counted 30 cars with many double parked. It worked out okay, and in fact, we found it interesting to watch the families and young backpackers from Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina spend their holiday relaxing on the beach (even during the typical daily rain shower).

Sunset from our campground. Enjoying the view with the other holiday-makers.

After our time in Mompiche we retraced our path south. We stopped at Rancho Bonanza (previous post) to spend a week fixing our fridge. We had already visited much of the central coast, so we hit all of our favorites spots, while moving pretty quickly to the small southern beach town of Puerto Engabao. Although this town is tiny, it has a massive fishing fleet. Our guess is there are maybe 200 brightly painted boats that call this town their home.

Only a fraction of the fishing fleet on shore in Puerto Engabao

Each boat had some sort of a saint/religious figure painted on the side.
Some also added their own flair like a flaming yin-yang and a surfing penguin.

Each day, the fishermen head out to net shrimp, and each night, the other half of the fleet heads out to net fish. We watched the fisherman fearlessly run their boats up on the sand, using the breaking waves as a cushion. Everyday, the heavy outboard motors were removed and carried by hand to a safe storage location.

Carrying the giant nets and motor back to storage

We couldn't get enough of all the cats hanging out in the boats. I guess it makes sense - if you were a cat, where would you hangout for a picnic?

Kitty captains

We can still see you!

Engabao was our last stop on the awesome Ecuador coast before heading inland to the mountains before our 90-day visa expired.

1 comment:

Cesar said...

Nice work guys! I am sorry we missed these spots. Long live Bolones!!!