Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weekend Update #2: Atacames

Okay, so this is embarrassing. This was maybe our third weekend in Ecuador but whatever, it was awesome, so I'm going to write about it now.

We left after classes on Friday for our 4 to 5, okay maybe 6, but definitely-... gosh darnit. SEVEN, if we're lucky, hour bus ride due north to Atacames.
We passed through some incredibly beautiful countryside. This being our first big trip outside of Quito, I was absolutely enthralled. Even now, no matter what I bring with me on bus rides here, I always end up staring out the window. Along with the incredible view came views of incredible poverty, which got Tom and Molly talking about economic development. Then again, it doesn't take much to get Tom and Molly talking about economic development.

Late Friday night we arrived at the Atacames bus stop and snagged a few moto-taxis (I'm going to try to find a picture to borrow from a friend, I didn't take any) which was, at the time, the sketchiest method of transportation I had yet to take, and headed to our hostel. Our hostel was awesome:
The beach was awesome:
And Jeff almost killed himself in the middle of the night trying to get a glass of water:
The beach itself was a fascinating juxtaposition of the timelessness of nature, and the transient existence of humanity. Just look -
in comparison to
Looking down the beach, to one side lapped the ocean, as enduring and imposing as ever. To the other, a string of tacky tiki-bars lined the beach, beyond which ran a crowded street bordered by concrete-and-rebar buildings that were in permanent need of a new coat of paint (or a structural inspection). The people were a very strange mix of kids like us, tourists who probably didn't know what they were getting themselves into, and locals. And when I say "locals," the crowd ran the gamut from prostitutes to toddlers. Seriously.

During the day, families and kids flocked to the beach while various vendors hawked their wares (cornbread? choclo? sunglasses?) to uninterested tourists. Chairs, sandcastles, and a lot of litter was left scarring the sand at the end of the day as the beachgoers retreated home. Returning hours later for the evening frivolities (the tiki bars had their appeal), the tide, already high at 4pm, had retreated, leaving the beach pristine and fresh, almost as if the tide had absolved it of the earlier transgressions of its careless patrons.

I didn't take too many pictures here. Everywhere I looked, it was just too beautiful or too depressing to photograph. It was a lovely weekend dancing, exploring caves and playing in the surf, but this is probably the only place in Ecuador I've seen to which I wouldn't return.

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