Mompiche, Ecuador – The curse of successful aqua culture

Angel is a diamond. He invites us one more time to a savoury breakfast when he returns with his American group of 14 birdwatchers for the coffee break. But then we really have to leave, the way down to the Pacific coast is long. Owing to its topographic shape Ecuador represents nearly all climate zones of the world. Today we feel like tropics. In Mompiche in the province Esmeraldas we get our private beach today. That’s the story behind: Walt and Lidia from California saw our vehicle in Joshua Tree Park, but missed us. They sent us an e-mail later and offered us to visit his son and daughter-in-law in Ecuador. Unfortunately son Ron is gone away for some days, instead of him we are looking for his wife Monica in the village Mompiche. After quite a number of the mainly black population eyed us suspiciously, nearly maliciously, her sceptic mother betrays where we could find her. A strange hostile atmosphere is prevalent in this place, but Monica is a treasure. After we drove her several times through town suddenly everything changes: The people wave to us, some even smile, although not all of them.

Mompiche shall have the most beautiful beach on the Ecuadorian mainland, but has the reputation not to be the safest place. Strolling around at nighttimes is not recommended. Monica owns a lonesome plot somewhere at the seven kilometres long grey Pacific beach. She says it is safe, and if something happens they would find the guilty person. We believe her, what else can we do? The beach nearly disappears with high tide and is not passable then, but with low tide it is wide and firm, so that not only cars but motorcycles and bicycles drive along. The water has bearable 25° C (77° F), but for South Americans this cosy spot is on of the warmest at the west coast.

Quite a few inhabitants of Mompiche make their living from tourism, although not all. Surfers and backpackers are frequently seen guests. A good deal of the coastal dwellers is unemployed, what partially explains criminality. One of the reasons, not the only one though, is the formula “many shrimps = few fish”. Already during our trip here the enormous amount of aqua cultures attracted our attention. Unfortunately raising of this shellfish is extremely little personnel-intensive so that a large part of the inhabitants has no work. In addition numerous valuable mangrove forests had to give way to the shrimps breeding. Unfortunately those are the nursery of many fishes. And so there is few fish to catch. At least a change can be listed: The worth of the mangrove forests was discerned, the remaining stock is protected, and there is even reforestation.

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