Ouch ! Ouch! Ouch!!!!
My feet are burning. I run as fast as I can across the beach, trying to reach the relative shelter of the beach canopy. Simply walking in my sandals was futile as they repeatedly fell off in the deep sand. There, on the Ecuadorian North coast of the Province of Esmeraldas, one could truly fry an egg in the sun.
Sheltered from the scorching sun, I settled into a canvas beach chair while my companions stretched themselves out on mats, basted in tanning oil, rotating periodically, hoping to give themselves bronzed skin; without burning, blistering or skin cancer.
I was by the water, Pacific Ocean, in the private enclave of Casablanca. It is a very attractive location with lots of vegetation, the ocean waves rolling in, white condominium houses and apartments along the shore and hillsides. Helpful staff were always available and the complex had its own pub and grocery store.
It seems that most of the owners and those subletting are weekend or holiday escapees from Quito, the Ecuadorian capital 6 hours away in the sierras.
My family and I were guests of a close friend. It is noteworthy that, when she bought her house on a hillside, she could sit on her terrace and look over the ocean. Now, the trees have grown and apartment towers have been constructed to block her treasured view. Beware when you buy in your paradise.
Getting back to the water’s edge – I am not a beach person. As a young man, I hung around a beach; but, that was because there were girls and nearby activities. Here in this beautiful setting, I watched families and listened to loud children. There was no noticeable breeze, and the waves were only fascinating for about twenty minutes. I was bored. The only time I enjoyed being there was in the early morning and evening during sunrise and sunset. - I distinguish this scenario from the beaches further South in Manabi Province, Salinas and Montanita, for example, where the waterside is filled with activity, numerous nearby shops, bars and restaurants.
What is it that drives people to flee the cities, drive for hours through difficult traffic and return a few days later in the same challenging circumstances, exhausted ? I can sit on my terrace and look over the valley between the Eastern and Western Andes Mountain ranges, with three snow-capped volcanoes on display and hummingbirds showing themselves on the adjacent tree. And, I don’t have to have the travel ordeal to enjoy it? I could also burn my flesh in the tropical sun, if I so chose.
Despite my evident “grouchy old man” attitude toward these mentioned pilgrimages, many people live for such experiences.
Currently travelling in Canada, I visited downtown Toronto and sought refuge exploring the harbour area, a lively spot for tourists and entertainment. There, to my astonishment, I saw white sand, umbrellas and sun worshippers toasting in the sun where there was no natural beach. Delightful to the eye, they were mostly the beautiful people of the downtown, young and trim. Of course, I did not gawk; but, carried out my duties as a travel photographer as discretely as I could. Hmmm – maybe if I lived here, I would find a comfortable chair under an umbrella.
( This two acre beach was developed by the City of Toronto as part of a waterfront enhancement. Traditionally, an industrial area, it is located beside the Redpath Sugar Factory, which gives a pleasant, sweet odour and the name to Sugar Beech.)
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