After three hours we arrived at our new beach town full of modest and old buildings. Our first impression of Mompiche was a good energy vibe or at least better than the last. There wasn’t much of a beach as the high tide line came up to the wall that lined this fishing village, but the surf break is supposed to be world-class. We stopped into the first hostel one block from the ocean, DMCA. Lonely Planet had recommended it so we checked it out. They were beyond basic, but for $18/night for a private room and bath it seemed worth it. However, after three nights of the neighbor rooster and dog waking us up at 4:15am outside our window, not being able to shower for 4 days, dark gloomy clouds, no surf and mediocre food, I told Abe we had to get the hell out of there. The shower floor was covered in rat poop and the water trickled out so I couldn’t even wash it down the drain. The only good thing about this hostel was the common area, where we met some nice travellers. We would not recommend The DMCA Hostel to anyone. There was one good mini restaurant in town directly in front of the DMCA on the oceanfront. An expat from California owns it and her local Cook takes pride in what she serves. Getting out of Mompiche for Canoa posed to be a great adventure as we needed to catch 4 different buses that would take around five hours.
We got on the 8am bus from the beach in Mompiche. It dropped us off on the main road,
where the 2nd of 4 was supposed to pick us up in 15 minutes. There we waited with school kids and other random travellers heading in different directions. Most just hopped in the back of cars as the buses that came past only were going north. Over an hour went by and the 2nd bus never arrived, an Ecuadorian man waiting for the same bus, hailed down a driver in a small pick up truck. He told us to get in and he would take us to our next stop. We put our two large Dakine rolly bags, and large surfboard/diving bag in the bed of the truck and squeezed in where we could. Our new friend was dropped off just a little down the road. He talked to the driver and told us he could take us all the way to Canoa. We were stoked with the wind in our hair and a little scared as our driver flew down the road using both lanes stopping abruptly only for livestock crossing. Our lives
were in his hands. I wore my cushioned backpack in case I got thrown from the truck, hoping it would save my spinal cord. Oh the thoughts that go through your head while traveling. The driver stopped at our 3rd bus stop and asked if we wanted to get out or go all the way to Canoa. He was headed to Manta from Esmeralda for a karate tournament. We said Canoa, please (in Spanish of course)! He handed us two bananas and off we went. Along the way an old man jumped in with us. Abe tried to speak Spanish with him but either his lack of teeth or small town dialect was difficult to decipher. So we all just smiled. He handed us two grapefruit as he got out at his town. Another hour later we came across a young boy walking along the road, so our driver stopped and he ran to catch up with us. He was also headed to Canoa. Our driver continued to speed along until this maybe 10-year-old boy gave out the most impressive ‘halt’ whistle I’ve ever heard. We were at the main entrance road to the town. There was no sign or indication that a very popular
beach town existed. We pulled all our bags out and gave the driver $10. He insisted that we put our luggage back in and he would take us all the way down to the beach since it wasn’t safe to walk. Boy were we glad he did. It was at least a couple of miles down the dirt road to any accommodations. I had read about Hotel Bambu and a few others online. So I left Abe with the bags on this bustling beach drag and searched for an accommodation for the night. At the north end of the beach I found Hotel Bambu. The girl at the front quoted me $30/ night and showed me a room. The second I walked in I tried to hide my excitement. It was beautiful, clean and decorated with bamboo. I took the key ran back to Abe with a smile as big as a schoolgirl with a crush and said I want to stay here for a while. He agreed. We immediately unpacked all our luggage into the shelves and settled in.
Over the next 9 days we caught up on blog posts and videos, tried different tasty restaurants, made new friends also staying at the hotel from Holland, Germany, Australia, and Canada, surfed, took long beach walks and runs, practiced yoga, and watched the locals and new friends get down at the beach shack bars. We also celebrated Thanksgiving at an American expat couple’s restaurant/bar, The Surf Shack. They served a proper Thanksgiving dinner with Turkey and all the fixings, plus fresh squeezed orange juice screwdrivers on happy hour followed by a late night dance party. It made being so far from home a little easier.
It was still a little overcast most days, but not as dark as Mompiche. And we had a few days of total sun, so along with our new friends we surfed and sun-baked the days away. Canoa is
definitely a place to visit, just go via Quito to Manta to Canoa instead. And Hotel Bambu is by far the best place to stay in town and the best value for breakfast. The Amalur Hostel and Restaurant is a great spot for meals. The Spanish owner takes pride in what he cooks and it pays off! It was so hard to leave this laid back yet fun beach town, but there were many places yet to see and we had a deadline to be in Lima by.