As I was having breakfast, a man came by, sat himself down on my table and started conversing. One word that featured often in what he was saying was “manglares”. At first I wondered how he knew I was from Mangalore, but later I understood that “manglares” was Espanyol for mangroves, a big attraction of Muisne.
The man was actually a tri-cyclo driver who wanted to show me around the island for $6. So determined was he to make me a customer that I obliged, and hopped onto his tri-cyclo after eating.
Tri-cyclos at the Ecuadorian coast are similar to the cyclos in Vietnam. Like their South East Asian cousins, they have the customers sitting in front while the driver sits behind. But almost all of the Ecuadorian ones are powered by a motorcycle.
The island tour actually turned out to be good fun, although the mangroves were a let down, and my guide only spoke Spanish. The sand near the mangrove forest was very soft and each step made a burrow a few inches deep. All of a sudden, the guide started running after a crab on the beach. He was a big, overweight man and it was funny to watch him run. I only watched him for a few seconds, thinking to myself, “Hah! He has some really high hopes if he’s dreaming of actually catching one of them”. In hindsight, I should have given him more credit and observed longer, because he actually managed to get hold of one!!
Later, I tried to catch one myself, and almost did it with hardly any effort. My conclusion is that South American crabs are much easier to catch than the Indian ones, because in India I cannot even come to within a foot of those nimble-footed little creatures.
From Muisne, I went to Tonchigue and then to Punta Galera. There were no hostels at Punta Galera, but a man offered to let me sleep on a bed on his balcony for $10. I managed to not laugh on his face, and politely refused his preposterous offer. But at Punta Galera, I had one of the best lunches of my South American trip so far at a small home. It was the remaining extra food – of rice and lobsters – from their own lunch. I was having home-food after a long long time, and by the end of the meal, I made sure that whoever cleaned my plate wouldn’t have to work too hard.
Next stop was Atacames, and I was lucky to get a lift in a jeep of a man selling cheese. At the end of the ride, I offered to give him money, but he just smiled and drove off. Atacames is a party place, and as is the case every weekend, every hotel I went to was packed. Having no other alternative, I came to the neighbouring peaceful town of Sua, and found a room there.