It was one of those rides that makes you shut your eyes and wait for its end, untimely or the other. Greg, Sean and I sped out of Manta’s domestic terminal, all 8 cylinders of Greg’s jacked up 4×4 firing us into tomorrow, northward up the Ruta del Sol. Quick was the keyword for this trip. Flying to Manta took only 30 minutes from Quito a much reduced version of the 10 hour bus ride. And
after the accident last months involving an overloaded bus rolling off the side of a cliff, more highly advisable. But now we were on to Bahia and the beach of Canoa. Two spots on the Manabi map on the verge of an explosion of tourism and land development.
Bahia de Carquez or simply Bahia as it is commonly known here in Ecuador along with the surfside village of Canoa are just barely on the lips of people traveling to and living in Ecuador. Popular with upper and middle class Quitenos as the site of their vacation condos, Bahia was home to a boom in the commercial shrimp farming industry(actually it was the birthplace of shrimp farms according to Greg, our host and driver) Such an income it was it gave the players a source of conspicuously consumptive income that allowed for a building of a local airport in neighboring San Vicente big enough for a 737 and host to many a private jet bought for the occasional shopping trips to Miami. This was, of course, until a disease of the shrimp due to the stagnant ponds which housed them, caused a die out a few years back. The bottom fallout caused more than just a die out of shrimp. Bahia’s hope for power ad greatness died with these little shellfish creatures. This die out has caused, though, a selling out of land by formerly rich local land barons making it an ideal place for the expat looking for a little beachfront heaven.
Such is the city of Bahia, a city that from the air looks a bit like Miami with high rise condos built for Quitenos seeking a mellow, crime free alternative on their holidays. The little uvula shapes spit of land at the mouth of the Chone river was getting pounded by the surf and high tides. Kids were standing by the malecon and getting drenched by smashing waves and the street in front of Sean’s condo were flooded with water and excited children playing with the oceans fury. The town itself was calm. The palm lined streets never get too busy even in the heat of the day. It was the weekday and not many people here, though it always picks up a bit on the weekend when the more affluent condo owners make their arrival. Looking up into the hills I was reminded of the hills surrounding Ventura country with a patchwork of houses built into the lushness of the naturally vegetative hills.
The area is gonna kick off soon. The government recently built the bridge crossing the Bay and connecting San Vicentina and the beach of Canoa, a beachy village slightly popular amongst backpackers and surfers. Though Canoa is on the tourist map, it is highly eclipsed by Montanita and is thus much more of a tranquil beach to pass a week or two. Once the shrimp return, the affluence will too and flights to San Vicentina will commence and domestic service will make the airport accessible to all of the country thus shaving off the hour or so commute to Manta’s domestic terminal. Also once the new modern highway connecting to Quito is finished –half of what it next year, overland routes will be about 5 hours half of what it is now and much much safer.
Come check out what the area has to offer. You can call Greg the owner of the nice little hostal I’ll be working at coming up in February. Greg’s a good ol’ by from Kentucky and a real friendly and informative guy, having lived in the area for over 6 years. He is a builder and land developer and can tell you anything about property, local lore, surfing and hang gliding in the area.