Sitting just upriver from the shoals at the mouth, on the western shore, is the little vacation town of Bahia de Caraquez, the sometime vacation home to Quitenos from the capital and a growing expat community of “gringos”. As you might expect, the beach front is riddled with mid and high rise apartment buildings. Toward the south end of town on the water is a quaint restaurant, known as Puerto Amistad, serving north American food and doubling as a marina with moorings to rent. Sailors dodging Panama’s horrendous lightning storms of the rainy season or heading to the South Pacific seem to be the primary constituents of that small oasis on the River Chone. Across, on the eastern shore, by traversing the new bridge or riding the panga ferry is San Vicente and the highway to Canoa, popular surfing spot and ocean beach resort. Heading south down the new highway by bus, one finds the lovely village of San Clemente, pictured here on a hazy gray day. Lots of beach, good seafood restaurants for our lunch time edification and even a bank for ATM services where we were also presented with ice cream cones. Lovely, friendly people, local and expat in a small, quaint setting.
Fresh fish and shrimp abound on everyone’s menu. Rice, plantains, lentils and a fine soup, served first, round out the typical fare. Less than ten dollars almost always feeds the two of us with tasty choices. Local beer is inexpensive and very good. Fresh fruit juices are also normally available, mora, similar to blackberry being our favorite. A lovely way to spend the day, capped off with a scenic ride back to Bahia, through the rolling foothills of the beautiful green Ecuadorian countryside.