The community (communities) where we live here in San Vicente/Bahia de Caraquez is a hot spot for vacationers from Quito but only a few times per year. This is one of those times.
Our condo complex has about 35 low-rise units. For about 49-50 weeks per year, we mostly have the place completely to ourselves as these units are vacation homes for families living in Quito. Now, however, every unit is filled to the brim with their owners and the owners’ friends and extended family. There are often three cars packed full of vacationing family members, all their water toys, ultralight airplanes and small watercraft on trailers… for each unit. Forget about assigned parking. It is now, what I affectionately call “combat parking”.
Both Bahia and San Vicente are currently crammed with people and cars, all driving like tourists, stopping everywhere for photos, double parking (because there is no parking anywhere) and walking away from their cars. The ATM machines are usually empty of money or broken. As soon as they are filled, they are stripped clean again in short order.
The inventory in all the stores is hit really hard. Staple food items like sugar, flour and bread go first. Hotels and hostels are packed completely full for top dollar. Chartered buses filled to capacity continue to come into town. A few more days and things will begin to thin out as the New Year celebration ends but now…it’s boom time! It reminds me of some old black and white movie of a bustling gold-rush town with people and horses and vehicles filling the streets and loud music blaring from the saloons.
This holiday time is a great thing for local merchants and landlords. Even the coconut carts and small food vendors do a bustling business. Everyone prospers!
The crazy driving, however, is much worse if one can imagine that. It appears as if there is four- five times the normal volume of cars on the road and folks are not entirely familiar with their surroundings. I saw two cars make U-Turns on a two-lane road yesterday, blocking traffic in both directions for a few minutes while they negotiated the maneuver. Scary… and every one in both directions was honking their horns in some sort of mass horn-cursing; almost like a flash mob before motoring and muttering away.
Our two Chihuahuas, Carmine and Izzy, are getting a ton of attention from the vacationing families and small kids in our complex. A handful of new dogs have also arrived with their families and our two pups aren’t happy at the smell of intruder pee in their territory.
Small ultralight aircraft scoot along the beach at low altitude and motorized beach buggies can be seen buzzing around town filled with happy families. These annual invasions of the mountain people are part of the normal rhythm of the coast and provide a huge infusion of money to this local economy. We also enjoy meeting these new folks when they arrive.
I’m mostly okay with these invasions but later today, when I need to buy some bread and all the bakeries will be sold out…I’ll feel differently.