Los Frailes Beach

Under a blanket of heavy, low clouds, we headed out to Los Frailes beach by taxi on Monday morning, with our diving friends, Eduardo and Paola.   When we arrived at 10:00 in the morning, we had the entire beach to ourselves.  Los Frailes beach, with its large, sweeping expanse of sand framed by high bluffs, is one of the most pristine stretches of coastline in Ecuador. Part of the protected Parque Nacional Machalilla since 1979, the beach is only a small part of the 55,000 hectares of coastal land home to a variety of marine life such as dolphins and sea lions, over 200 species of birds, howler monkeys, anteaters, deer, squirrels, iguanas, and lizards.

We are in the dry season here on the coast and everything looks dead – very similar to winter in Canada.  However we have been told that by January when the rainy season begins this area will look lush and tropical.  Hard to imagine that right now.  Since arriving on the coast almost two weeks ago, the weather has been the same every day – cloudy with temperatures in the low 20’s and very little rain.  We have only had one day of sunshine while we were in Canoa.  This is definitely not lying on beach weather but it is very comfortable for hiking and sleeping.  During the rainy season (January – May), it is very hot and sunny during the day and then torrential rains pour down each night.  The rainy season coincides with the high tourist season.

We headed north towards a trail that would take us through a dry forest to a lookout at the top of the bluff.    The path meandered through unique dry forest vegetation with bottle-shaped trees adorned with heavy spines, spindly cacti, and fragrant trees up to a clearing that provided spectacular views of the coastline.  We only saw a few birds, mainly vultures and pelicans.  We encountered no other wildlife.  We continued our hike to a neighbouring beach, Playa La Tortuguita where spiky rock formations jutted out of the turquoise waters and large crabs scurried along the rocks.

In spite of the weather which was a little on the cool side, Paola was determined to go for a swim and bravely went for a quick dip into the cool waters.  Chris and I were content to stay warm and dry and enjoyed taking photos of the beautiful scenery.

Throughout the morning, we learned so much about life in Ecuador while conversing with Eduardo and Paola.  We were surprised to learn that they pay similarly high income taxes (pro-rated per income like us) but they don’t feel they get much for their taxes.  Ecuadorians must pay for their own health care although both were fortunate to have private insurance through their employers.  All schooling must be paid for privately, even the lower grades.  Getting a mortgage depends as much on who you know as it does on your ability to pay the mortgage.  And interest rates are very high – about 8 percent for a mortgage, although the government has introduced some programs to make it more affordable.  There are no social safety nets in place like employment insurance or maternity benefits.  Even today, it is typical for a middle class family to have at least one maid and perhaps a gardener.  Day care facilities are common just like in Canada.  Iam always fascinated to learn how people live and it’s so interesting to see both the commonalities and the differences in our respective countries.

The morning passed quickly and soon we had to head back to Puerto Lopez as Eduardo and Paola had to catch their flight back to Quito later in the day.

Back in Puerto Lopez, Chris and I decided to wander around town for a while, people watching and taking more pictures.  We met up with our friends a little later on for lunch at Patacon Pisa’o where we enjoyed a special dish of crisply fried plantains topped with a choice of toppings such as squid, shrimp, fish or a combination of seafood.  It was delicious.

As the afternoon came to a close, it was time say good bye to our friends. We hope they come to Canada one day and we would welcome the opportunity to share our beautiful country with them in the way they shared their country with us.

Category: Ecuador, South America
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2 Responses
  1. Paola says:

    Just love it!

  2. Eduardo says:

    where are you guys?
    good luck!