Machala isn’t exactly one of Ecuador’s premiere tourist destinations. Lonely Planet wrote, “There is no reason to visit Machala.” Someone on Wikitravel described the city as “chaotic, oppressively hot and dangerous.” My friend, Jody, calls it a dusty town. And yet, here I was.
Some fun facts about Machala:
- It is the banana capital of Ecuador.
- It is the capital of El Oro province.
- It’s hot and humid here.
- There is no such thing as hot water in showers in Machala.
After 7 hours on a bus from Loja, I found myself in the outskirts of Machala at the bus station waiting for Jody. She moved here because Loja was too cold for her. She’s from Canada. Go figure.
After some arguing with the taxi driver, we jumped in and soon arrived in an area of Machala that has no name, but it has got a park.
I stayed with Mari, a 50-something lady who takes care of her 93-year old mother basically for 24-hours a day. Her mother is wheelchair-bound and struggles to feed herself. But her house has a beautifully-decorated Christmas tree.
Jody and I went to her apartments walk that took 147 steps, and that is where I spent the majority of my time.
Jody, Eduardo, Jody’s housemate, and I are dinner at a restaurant that sold grilled fish. It only took 1 hour to cook, but it was delicious!
Eduardo is Ecuadorian who was born in Machala but has lived in Chile for the past 20 years. He’s more Chilean than he is Ecuadorian, but he calls neither place home. He, like Jody and I, now are nomads, and we spent the night discussing the nomadic life.
If a normal day in Machala isn’t quite enough, then a Sunday in Machala is even more so. I met Cecilia, Jody’s landlord, and local Machaleña. I asked her what was there to see in the city. She went silent for a minute before she said the Parque Ecological, the park in the neighborhood.
Well, I just spent my Sunday on a hammock writing. I love hammocks, trying to get in and out of one without falling is very difficult!
Machala is a quiet, off-the-beaten-track town that was a bit of fresh air. It was nice to relax and do nothing. And it was a great place to people-watch because everyone just sat outside and talked to each other. People said Buenos when I passed them.
And I consumed quite a lot of chifes (fried plantains) in my 40 hours in the banana capital of Ecuador. It would’ve been a dishonor if I didn’t!