Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five Reasons to Love Salinas

For years we've been hearing from our friends, the kids that we teach and from our Ecuadorian neighbors how wonderful Salinas is and the old refrain, "You're going to love it there." Well, I was skeptical because I also heard how it's not so great six months out of the year. There are so many conflicting stories, so we decided to check it out for ourselves. Surprise, surprise, surprise...I loved it.
Here's why:

Reason #1: It's sunny. I guess that's not a big surprise. We're heading into the rainy season in Cuenca and after five days of rain, I'm ready for a change. Salinas showed us its sunny side all five days, so much so that I forgot all about Cuenca and that four letter word R-A-I-N. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds, warm ocean waters, and a beach umbrella and I'm one happy camper.

Salinas Yacht Club
Reason #2: It's modern. I already pictured the high-rise condo buildings because I had seen pictures on the Internet, but what I wasn't expecting was a modern mall, new and modern bus station, a beautiful new airport, and a Mi Comisariato that makes MegaMaxi pale in comparison.

Reason #3: People walk around in shorts, flip-flops, and bathing suits -- even in the grocery store. Can you imagine if you did that in Cuenca? It reminded me a lot of Miami; there's no dress code. You roll out of bed and onto the seashore.

Reason #4: Restaurants. I thought we had a lot of restaurants in Cuenca. Oh my goodness, we dined at the Italian Gourmet on pizza night (Wednesdays) -- all you can eat -- for $5.00. Yep, you heard me right...on the terrace with a gentle breeze and great conversation. It was perfect. Right next door was the Common Grounds Waffle House. In fact, there were so many restaurants, I simply stopped counting.

Reason #5: Sunsets. I guess it's no surprise that I love sunsets (I'm a California girl) and we saw plenty of those during our stay. In fact, we stayed at El Faro Hosteria and the owner, Gabriel, took us on a tour of Chocolatera at sunset and I was almost ready to sell our condo in Cuenca and set up house in the lighthouse. It was simply breathtaking with the ocean waves crashing against the rocks, the pinkish red skies and the blow holes spraying water like a geiser. Gabriel was kind enough to show us all around Salinas, including the yacht club where he's a member and I decided Salinas wouldn't be a bad life!
La Chocolatera
Blow Hole at La Chocolatera

Sunset at Chocolatera
Sunset at El Mirador
La Puntilla
We stayed at El Faro (The Lighthouse) in a tropical paradise with exotic flora and fauna, so it was easy to fall in love with Salinas. Who wouldn't enjoy a private beach and garden filled with every type of bird imaginable and listening to wind chimes? As soon as my head hit the pillow every night, I was out for the count. After the second day, I decided I wanted to apply for the job of groundskeeper, so I could hang around a little longer and pay for my room and board. By the way, if you want a great place to stay -- away from the crowds and noise of the Malecon -- then El Faro is the way to go.
El Faro Private Beach

The Lighthouse

Dining Area
Pathway to the Ocean
As much as I loved our stay in Salinas, I don't think I could live in an air-conditioned society full-time. We had that life in Miami, Florida and after three years, I wasn't so fond of it. It's a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there. And, unfortunately, mosquitoes adore me. They lick off the Off Spray, call their friends for a mosquito party, and I'm the honored guest. I came home with welts the size of sand dollars and now I'm recuperating with Calamine Lotion all over my body. I look like a pink leopard. I'm not sure what it was because I've never been devoured like that before and we go to Puerto Lopez every year.

I understand the attraction to Salinas -- the resort city of Ecuador. I would like to go back (as soon as I heal from my bites). But I think my pictures of the sun, the surf, and the ocean will have to sustain me through April and May.

In the end, I'm so thankful for Cuenca's weather without the need for air-conditioning and bug spray. I love Salinas, but only for a visit!

Until next time...hasta luego,


Merrill Mixer said...

Hi Connie! Seeing as we are here in gloomy Cuenca your post about Salinas made me want to get up and go until the part about the mosquito bites. It's a great place to visit but I hate those itchy bites.

We only have 8 more days here in Cuenca. I had hoped we'd have an opportunity to get a visit in. I have appreciated your list of favorite restaurants on the website and have visited several of them!

Connie Pombo said...

Mark has off this week from school; he's on break, so we would love to meet up with you. I'm so sorry that Cuenca is putting on its rainy face for you. I traded sunshine for mosquito bites and they aren't fun!

Jordan said...

What a wonderful blog! I am adoring these pictures of Salinas. It's great to visit gorgeous resort towns every so often - and I agree that most of them I'd rather visit than live in!

Connie Pombo said...

Hi Jordan, Thank you for your comment! We love to visit the coast, but we're thankful we live in Cuenca. We lived in Miami for three years and the beaches were spectacular, but the humidity drained us of energy. We found some lovely hotels and B&B's in Salinas, including Playa Dorada, which is right on the ocean. We'll be back -- definitely!

Pati Whitcomb said...

Connie! I have just discovered your site, and am SO enchanted with what I have learned about retiring to Cuenta. However, being raised at the beaches of San Mateo County in California, I am searching for the perfect beach to live on. Your description of the mosquito issues there has me more than disappointed, as I am also a "main course" for those little beasts! Is this what I should expect of the entire coast of Ecuador, or is this typical only around Salinas? I am currently living in Sonoma County, CA, and am homeless and disabled. This being said, I need to be able to receive excellent medical care...would Quito be a good place for this? It isn't as far into the mountains as Cuenta, and a little closer to the northern beaches where I can watch the surfers ride the waves!! I really enjoy reading your work, and would appreciate any advice you can provide!!

Connie Pombo said...

Hi Pati,
Thanks for your comment!

My husband was born in SF and raised in San Mateo, so I know what you mean about being spoiled with beaches. If you want excellent medical care, Cuenca and Quito would be your best bet. We belong to the IESS (Social Security System in Ecuador) and pay about $72 a month for both of us and includes everything (Rx's, office visits, hospitalization, labs, etc.). Our monthly fee is all we pay (no co-pays). Salinas is not that far away from Guayaquil, which is about 1-1/2 hours from the coast and they have a new airport there as well.Guayaquil is on the Guayas River and for some reason I'm not bothered by mosquitoes there. I have no idea why! The reason why we don't have mosquitoes in Quito and Cuenca is the altitude (8,300 feet) and even higher in Quito, but elevation can cause problems with some people. Further up the coast of Ecuador (north of Puerto Lopez) you're in the earthquake zone. But even after the big one last year, folks still love Bahia and Manta, which is the fourth largest city. I hope this helps and we hope that you'll be able to visit soon!

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