Home > Ecuador > A Fascinating visit to some coastal haciendas of Ecuador, Part two

A Fascinating visit to some coastal haciendas of Ecuador, Part two

February 11, 2012

Continuing with our special tour of coastal haciendas of Ecuador, Veronica and I, accompanied by Elvis, who also drives our van, find ourselves in a sunny early morning, crossing the long bridge which connects Ecuador’s main seaport and largest city, with the inland plains of the country’s Pacific coast.  As we traverse the bridge, right over the mighty Guayas River, the extremely picturesque Waterfront of Guayaquil appears, alongside the iconic river, deeply attached to the city throughout history.
At the other end of the bridge we enter the old and historic town of Duran, the coastal hub of Ecuador’s legendary railway which unites the large and commercially crucial seaport, on the southwestern coast, with the millenary capital city of Quito, up in the mountains of Ecuador’s northern Andean region.  Duran boasts a renovated railway station and a site museum, with memorabilia of the centenary rail venture which became known as the “world’s most dramatic rail feat”.  Leaving the town riding over a modern paved toll-highway, we begin watching the post-card picture scenes of Ecuador’s rural inland coast…. Large rice fields, dotted with flocks of white and cattle egrets and many other wading birds are the subject of attention first, soon to give pass to miles of banana plantations, sugar cane fields and coffee plants, alongside with citrus fruits trees, mango trees and the large and leafy bread-fruit trees, typical of the area.
An hour later we reach the busy town of Bucay, already nestled on the lower slopes of the western Andes.  The climate (dubbed by the locals as “an eternal spring”); the architectonic style and materials of the houses plus the surrounding vegetation signal that we are on a transition zone between the Coast and the Andean highlands.  We veer off to the north and head on towards San Rafael, a large estate which grows bananas for export overseas and features a touristic complex, complete with gardens, meetings and conventions facilities, children’s games, a swimming pool, entertainment areas, indoor and attractive outdoor dining facilities, among other attractions.  The traditional construction of the complex reflects the best of the traditional local styles and materials.  An artificial lagoon is the centerpiece of the main part of the tourist complex.  Jackie, our host, greets us with delicious and warm “muchines”, a typical delicacy made of yucca (manioc), filled with cheese and served with a variety of sauces. Glasses of pure mango juice complement the snack, as an introduction before touring the complex.  A highlight of the visit for me is being offered the chance to do a round-trip canopy ride over the lagoon, which I fully enjoy… As we are greeting goodbye to our gracious host, a large group of visitors arrives on a big bus, ready to enjoy a fun-filled day in coastal rural countryside.
Now we travel to the west, towards the province of Los Rios, traversing the city of Milagro, Ecuador’s “pineapple capital”.  The sights and scenes continue to be beautifully bucolic and give us new reasons to rave at every bend.  Small and colorful towns, with their “montubio” inhabitants riding their horses and wearing the traditional white straw hats, are another source of joy and fun along the way.  Close to the city of Babahoyo, we leave the main road to enter a secondary dirt road, yet not uncomfortable at all, for some 20 minutes, before we reach another Hacienda, “Rodeo Grande”, another banana, cocoa and sugar cane producing property.  The estate has a large and sumptuous farm-house with an unmistakable flavor of the 1800’s.  Our hosts here, Colin and his family, greet us and show us around the beautiful house which includes two or three guest rooms and the nice terraces which serve as open-air living and dining areas.  Here we are invited to a traditional luncheon, which includes hearts of palm, fresh orange juice, a host of salads and green plantain cakes.  The main course is a typical “seco de gallina”, a rich chicken stew, delicious in taste, covered with a light sauce and accompanied by the always present bowl of steaming white rice…  Dessert is a fabulous bread-fruit pudding on a caramel sauce which any high-heeled restaurant would envy.  Of course, freshly brewed local coffee and bonbons close an impeccable lunch.  Once more we find here a perfect combination of rural life, agro-tourism and nature in the gardens and surrounding trees, teeming with large numbers of birds which can be seen, either naked-eyed or with binoculars from the house’s terraces.  Our fascinating haciendas tour is yet to continue and we will tell you more on the next edition….

E     N     D        O     F        P     A     R     T        T     W     O

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