Home > Ecuador > Nature, Culture and fine gastronomy combine on Ecuador’s North – Central coast, Part Two

Nature, Culture and fine gastronomy combine on Ecuador’s North – Central coast, Part Two

March 24, 2012

An invigorating Jacuzzi bath sets me in the perfect mood to start a new day of discovery and fine food in the luxury of Casa Ceibo, plus the natural and cultural wonders of Bahìa de Caraquez, on Ecuador’s north central coast.  Rossy joins me for breakfast which is a real feast of Manabì specialties:  freshly squeezed orange juice; fragrant Ecuadorian coffee, homemade warm bread rolls and mini-croissants with a variety of fine cheeses, are just the prelude to a hearty “corviche”, fried, mid-sized balls of plantain filled with thin and crunchy bacon slices and plenty of “sal prieta” (translates into “dark salt”), which is rather a tasty peanut powder. The platter comes along with “colonche”, a small dish of grilled baby shrimps mixed with yellow rice.
After such a succulent breakfast banquet, Xavier, the Hotel’s resident operations manager, joins me for a tour of the gardens, which are truly splendid and remarkably well conceived with a feng-shui symmetry.  The swimming pool shines under the morning sun and the whole area speaks of peace and relaxation.  We cross the long wooden walkway which leads to the Hotel’s private dock.  As the tide is low, we are lucky to see several dozen species of wading and shore birds, feasting on small crustaceans and other small creatures which live on the muddy marshes, along the mangrove-framed western side of the Chone River’s estuary. Sandpipers and sanderlings; whimbrels with their long and curved beaks; ruddy turnstones; several types of phalaropes; the always colorful jacanas and some common and purple gallinules come easily into view and provide us with what would be a super treat for dedicated bird watchers. As we reach the water line, we can also spot some terns and gulls flying about. The nicely shaded pier is well equipped: several kayaks are securely tucked into their storage places and, down the wide and secure floating dock, is the Hotel’s comfortable catamaran and support boats.  This is the point of departure for a variety of water-based tours and activities.
The morning’s beginning has been a perfect match between a phenomenal experience of local gastronomy and bird watching outing, just a short walk from the Hotel’s main installations.  Now we board Xavier’s 4-wheel drive and head on towards downtown Bahìa City.  The city is relatively small and keeps traces of traditional coastal architecture of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Soon we realize why it is recognized as an “Eco-city”: impeccably clean everywhere you look around; provided with color-coded and differentiated trash disposal bins for cardboard, plastic, glass or organic waste, which is the first step for a careful treatment of the garbage and in some cases to recycle it into new and useful materials.  The use of alternative energy sources is encouraged while in the meantime, awareness campaigns are conducted to motivate people to save energy and water.  Our first stop is the superb Archaeological Museum of Bahìa, smaller than its similar on other coastal cities, but truly outstanding on its displays and exhibits of some of the Ecuador’s most ancient cultures.  Carlos, the Museum Director (and another old friend), greets us gladly and shows us around the impressive museum and its remarkable pieces, which includes a real-size Manteño Raft, identical in size and carved to the smallest detail, to reflect the reality of the famous rafts which Ecuador’s ancient cultures used to travel and trade along the Eastern Pacific Ocean, thousands of years ago. Then we walk along the city’s waterfront with its sidewalk kiosks, selling a variety of colorful and very original handicrafts, particularly those made of “tagua”, a palm seed which is known as the “vegetable ivory” and skillfully carved into hundreds of pieces of dolphins, whales, fishes, birds and other objects, reflecting elements of the local culture and nature. Now it is over midday, the sun is up, it is just “pleasantly hot” and we head on with Xavier to one of the seaside al-fresco typical restaurants of the city, for yet one more local treat: the rich “Viche”, a thick and delicious fish-based soup, with mashed plantain; shrimps, small chunks of maize and bits of yucca, all seasoned with herbs and abundant peanut sauce, hot Manabi chili, and decorated with lemon slices.  The delicacy is best downed with a cold beer, which he avidly drink as we talk about the amazing richness and potential of this zone as a new tourism destination in Ecuador, which combines to perfection nature, culture and great cuisine……

T   H   E        E   N   D

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