Punta Carnero

We took a drive with our friend Tom on Sunday over to the Mar Bravo side of the peninsula and stopped at the Punta Carnero hotel. The views are just magnificent but these waters are very dangerous and there are signs warning not to swim because of the riptide and undertow. At high tide it does not look like there is much of a beach behind the hotel but I’m sure at low tide it would be a beautiful walk. The hotel is very quiet, dining room was large and airy.  They have a pool and you can walk down to the beach.

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The hotel is located on Mar Bravo approximately 20 minutes by taxi from the malecon in Salinas.

Farallon Dillon Hostal – The People and The Food

Sorry this has taken me so long to complete. This is my last post on our stay at Farallon Dillon in Ballenita.  Here are some of the folks that made our stay at the Farallon Dillon so wonderful:

Dennys and his lovely wife helped to make our stay with them memorable.  We really appreciated their attention to all the little details.

David was also most attentive. His Long Island Iced Teas were “”to die for” and his knowledge of the area and history of the hotel made our stay more interesting.  He was kind enough to show us many of the rooms and we especially liked the beautiful room overhanging the cliff shown below.

What a view!!!

If you get the opportunity to visit, please do. The accommodations were very comfortable, the food was excellently prepared and served. My all time favorite dish has to be the Butterfly Swordfish with Garlic Wine Sauce. Second choice would be Mahi Mahi with Seafood Sauce. Joe liked the Seafood Rice and the Seafood Soup.

I took many pictures of the nautical antiquities Captain Dillon collected over his 30 years traveling the seas. For those who want to see more, I am posting them. You really should pay a visit yourself if the opportunity arises.

We will be going back to visit very soon.

Carnival Salinas 2011

We have decided to pass on carnival this year. Our four years in Panama with carnival celebrated one block from our home gave us all of this type of festivities we could handle in a lifetime.

Below is a poster we saw at the local restaurant last week.

As you can see from this poster the entertainment is for the younger set. I’m sure that La Vencia, Mr. Wilson, Mac Delincuente and Big Marvin will put on a grand show along with DJ Rakataka and Mc Lovel.

If your planning on being in Salinas from March 4 through March 9 you will no doubt see some outrageous activities. We have heard that besides water you can be covered with flour and assorted other substances. A taxi driver said the new thing is spraying paint in your face. What fun.

The above canisters contain silly string, I have seen these being sold in the bigger supermarkets since before New Years. They will be used during carnival.

It looks like there were be other activities for the folks at this site near the Alamar building.

Have a wonderful Carnival 2011 in Salinas.

Aerobics on the beach

This weekend Fybeca, the local pharmacy, had aerobics on the beach. Early on both Saturday and Sunday morning and then in the afternoon an instructor conducted a very intense aerobics class for anyone interested in participating. The beach was packed with a very enthusiastic group of folks all strutting their stuff.

Our weekend crowds were larger the past two weekends. I guess we’re building towards carnaval. We have found that many more restaurants, a few more clubs and many more vendors are open or working during these busy times.

A stroll through Chipipe

After taking our laundry in, we decided to take a stroll through Chipipe.  We don’t often walk the streets behind the malecon because our fascination with the water, the beach and all that can be seen on the malecon keeps us going back for more.  But on this lovely morning we decided to stroll around the Chipipe area slowly; no real purpose,  just some quiet time.

We found a beautiful park. It is not very big but with some trees for shade, benches for a quick respite, and some beautiful flowers and birds.

The place was immaculate: not a leaf on the walkways, benches in good repair, trees and bushes pruned and no basura to be seen anywhere.

The above statue is of General G. Alberto Enriquez Gallo. According to the plaque he founded the Canton of Salinas.

It is a beautiful place just to sit and relax. Have missed the birdsong so prevalent in Panama, we will return.

We saw several birds on our visit.

This park is very close to the military base and we just could not help ourselves when we saw this whirlybird. Hope you had a great day also!

Baños Termales San Vincente

At 6:30am one morning this week,  I met our friends Monica and John and we headed for the thermal baths.  After a few taxi rides we arrived at San Vicente.

If you are looking for fancy and fussy with lots of ambiance, this is not the place for you.  This is a basic thermal bath that has the addition of the mud pool and massages and a steam room.

It was very inexpensive. A $2 entrance fee gave you the option to use any of the basic facilities which include the thermal bath, swimming pool, mud pool and showers, bathrooms and changing areas.

Here Monica, John and I have just gotten out of the warm, bubbling, mineral laden spa after spending about 20 minutes. Those with high blood pressure are advised to only stay in for 10 minutes at a time.

They also have massages available at $4 for either the volcanic mud or the aloe.  They also offer a steam bath called vapor for $3 which had several wonderful herbs including rosemary and eucalyptus.

What a fun time. When we first got there we changed, showered and then took the first dip in the warm, mineral filled bubbling pool.  It was very difficult getting out — so soothing and relaxing!

After 9am the massage staff arrives and we were surely warmed up for a good deep massage.  I asked for the volcanic mud massage. It is a 30 minute, pretty intense massage. I used Lucy in room #7. Hands of steel.  After, you move to the outside area and lounge on chairs until the mud dries.

John & I decked out in MUD

Both John and I got the mud massage – then you sit for 15 minutes to allow the mud to dry and then “try to get it all off”.  I must have been in the showers for 20 minutes, I had more in my hair and my ears than on the rest of my body combined!

After we were showered we went back to the mineral spa. By the time we got back, there were about 15 people using it.  Come early because the place fills up.

The mud pool is much larger than I had expected.

All the facilities have separate buildings. The above structure houses the swimming pool, which also has the mineral waters.

There was a display at the entrance walkway showing the bones of an extinct bear once found in this part of Ecuador.

It was a wonderful day and I would love to do this once a week. It was so relaxing and my skin felt like silk after the treatment.

Preparing for New Years Eve, Salinas Style

In taking my morning walk the past few days I have noticed a few interesting things on the malecon.  First in front of the port office there are two boats with a few passengers aboard.

Next at the Alamar condo there was this powerful looking guy! I’m not sure what GAP is so if anyone knows please leave a comment so I can update this post.

Now sitting alone in the parking lot of our building you find this guy, he seems to be missing a few things.  No he was not hit by that car…

Today I found him in better form, ha ha

Then I saw this guy in one of the condo windows looking out to sea… or maybe just waiting for the big bonfire on New Years Eve.

A tradition here in South America is to make an effigy and put lists of all of the bad things that happened in the past year inside.  Oh yes and did I mention fireworks? These are then taken to the beach and set on fire at midnight on New Years Eve.

We are expecting to see quite a show New Years Eve between the bonfires and the fireworks. Joe and I will be up watching the show from our private box (balcony) overlooking the action.

We wish you a great 2011.  May God bless us all with health, happiness and of course His peace.  Nancy & Joe

Vendors Part II – Food and such

We love sitting on the beach late in the afternoon – partly shaded by an umbrella –  just people watching…  The beach, even on quiet days, is teeming with vendors.  Their wares include jewelry, beach dresses, guys shorts, lotto tickets, wooden key holders, small wooden toys, woven baskets and place mats, jewelry stands, straw hats, hammocks (some fabulous like our rope hammocks and some made from materials that I think are just too hot for this climate).

Jewelry vendor

Jewelry vendor

Clothing vendor

Clothing vendor

There are the women that will braid your hair and sell you a string of beads and trinkets to braid into it.  Are you interested in a temporary tattoo? Or, if you are really daring, there are folks that will do the real thing as well.

Wooden boats and braiding hair- what a combo

Wooden boats and braiding hair- what a combo

Then we have the food vendors.  My favorites.  They sell full meals that include fish, rice and salad delivered right to your beach chair on a paper plate with plastic utensils. You can find a variety of empanadas filled with chicken or beef or fresh queso (cheese) which they apply a good helping of mayonnaise from a squeeze bottle.  We have the Colombian empanada guy who has corn or flour empanadas – Joe said it was filled with a potato and beef mixture and he has you bite the end off so he can drizzle his homemade vinegary salsa inside. Empanadas are $.50 each.  The choclo (corn on the cob that have these huge kernels) cart filled with cooked corn that you choose your topping, a slice of fresh queso or a cheese sauce or both – this sells for $1. A gentlemen was selling stuffed potato cakes – we bought two and added hot sauce to spice it up a bit both for $1.

Stuffed potato cakes - yum yum

Stuffed potato cakes - yum yum

They also sell coconut water (the carts say Helado but don’t be fooled it’s not ice cream it’s Pipa the water from the inside of the coconut) – very refreshing and supposedly it has health benefits as well. One pretty large cold coconut is $1.25.  If you are like me and want the soft luxurious pulp from inside he will expertly open the coconut and extract the flesh, it’s amazing just to watch.  Joe takes hours to do what this man can do in 20 seconds. I have chopped this up in my food processor and added it to oatmeal cookie batter – I want to make my own coconut oil but have not made the time to do that yet.  It would also be wonderful in my Asian recipes that call for coconut milk – so many uses so little time… Back to the vendors.

Coconut water

Coconut water

You must be getting really thirsty by now so we have what I call the Big Beer, Pilsener in a 22 oz bottle, regular size Club and an assortment of soft drinks including Kuna Cola which is a phosphorescent yellow/green color. The color reminds me of antifreeze but it is very tasty – a bit too sweet for me but actually a refreshing drink for those of us that are not into cerveza!  Sodas are $.50 and the Big Beer is $1.50 both iced cold and very refreshing while on the beach.

Pilsner "the Big Beer"

Pilsener the " Big Beer "

Some vendors come by with menus from a few of the restaurants in Cevichelandia like D’Hugo’s, which is one of our favorites – you can order just about anything on the menu and it will be delivered to you in short order. A fried fish dinner including rice, patacones and a salad is $3.00, a fried shrimp dinner is $4.50. We have also seen later in the day folks asking if you want a cocktail. And you can get peanuts with that cocktail as well with your choice of limon (small green limes) squeezed over them or aji (hot sauce). When you’re ready for dessert there is fresh pineapple on a stick, ice cream from several suppliers including Penguino, candy apples and cotton candy along with the every present tray of treats including gum, tic tacs, and assorted candies. I have never seen before where you could buy just one cigarette or one stick of gum but you can do it in Salinas. And they light the cigarette for you!

Ice cream and shaved ice vendors

Shaved ice and Ice Cream Vendors

There are the fellows that walk around carrying a huge inflated whale or dolphin that will have you pose for a picture and return later in the day with the finished photo (the guy takes your picture not the whale).

Picture with a whale anyone!

Picture with a whale anyone!

On the weekends there are many folks that sell inflated tubes, balls and other floats. Do you want to ride the banana or water ski, water board,  jet ski? You can also rent a paddle boat or kayak. Or is your fantasy to para-sail?

The Banana

The Banana

Maybe you would rather take a tour looking for whales, go surfing, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Rental boats

Rental boats

They are all available right from the shore.  Fishing is also available as well as day sight-seeing trips with professionals like our friend Captain Fouad Sultan who operates Dog Day Charters. You can visit his web site at http://www.dogdaychartersecuador.com

Looking for fresh fish, shrimp, lobster or crab you will find vendors selling those on the beach also. We see several strolling musicians who will stop and play a few songs in exchange for a small tip.

Strolling musicians

Strolling musicians

You can find a man selling coconut and almond oils but we were not impressed with the quality. Need a lamp, a small side table or lamp or plant stand like this unusual hand-made floor lamp. It lights at the top and bottom very different indeed!

If you are into doing some kite flying this is the place for that as well and there will be someone willing to sell you one when you are ready. I think I have covered most of what we have seen. Below are a few more pictures.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour of Salinas beach from our beach chairs. We have been in the city since early June and this is an everyday occurrence, whether the sun is shinning or not, the vendors and the beach goers are enjoying this piece of paradise.

Ecuador Andes – these guys were great

This group was playing at Parque La Carolina when we were in Quito.  I like the pan flute but these guys did not do the standard stuff you hear they did their own take on Andes Music with a young contemporary approach.  We watched them perform for almost an hour they were very entertaining.