‘Where the hell am I!?’ I said to myself as I clambered down off the bus onto the pitch black street of Atacames, ignoring the typical South American bus station chorus of ‘Taxi? Hotel? Taxi?’ that greeted us from the crowd of local men awaiting the arriving visitors.
To get to Mompiche from Quito (where I live), you have to go via Atacames, and our overnight bus arrived there at the rather unhelpful time of 5am. There had been a power cut and as we were the only passengers to get down, I felt a little apprehensive in the complete darkness.
Direct bus from Atacames to Mompiche are infrequent, and we had been told to get a bus bound for Chamanga. Luckily one of the men milling about at Atacames bus station kindly showed us the way to the stop, where some Ecuadorians were also waiting.
At dawn, the Chamanga bus dropped us in a tiny village at this rather distinctive statue – you often see religious imagary on roundabouts in Ecuador.
We waited at the statue for a few minutes as the sun came up, until another bus came by. We asked the driver “Mompiche?” and he nodded. Bus number 3 did not infact take us to our destination, but to a junction, where a car was waiting to take tourists to the beach town. The driver wanted a dollar each to take us from the main road to the beach. The route cut through dense tropical vegetation; it was beautiful.
There, we went to sleep after the long journey through the night. Travelling on a budget through South America generally requires effort: negoticating, hopping from bus to bus, arriving painfully early.
Later on we felt slightly more energetic, and checked out Mompiche. It is a charming little fishing town. Colourful boats line the beach and squwarking seagulls compete against stray cats for fish scraps caught in the tangled nets.
There is not a lot to do in Mompiche but for me, that was the whole point of going. It is quiet; there is no bar, no nightclub, no traffic, tiny children walk to school by themselves, and the whole place goes to sleep at 9pm. It is probably not for everyone, but I loved how peaceful the place was.
I loved Mompiche becuase:
The beach is long and wide, and the sand is hot.
Palm trees line the beach and at the animal sanctuary, you can buy huge coconuts with a straw for $1.
The sea is warm and calm, and you can swim in the shade if you go along the beach to the peninsula pictured below.
Like all of Ecuador’s coast, it is hot and humid, and the beautiful tropical trees reflect the climate.
All of the buildings have bamboo frames, some with bamboo balconies, doorways and furniture too, which contributes to a really relaxed vibe.
The seafood is fresh, delicious, and really cheap. Comedores (simple restaurants aimed at locals) offer lunch deals that include a soup, a main and a juice for $3-4, and are a tasty, budget-friendly way to enjoy seafood.
For a chilled weekend away from working in the capital, Mompiche was ideal.
For more about Ecuador’s coast, take a look at my post about Montañita!
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