Photo Credit: EITAN ABRAMOVICH
Inside Esmeraldas: The Land Of Afro-Ecuadorians
Esmeraldas, is said to be the land of Afro-Ecuadorians. With a population of roughly 650,000 people, of which 70% of its inhabitants are Afro-Ecuadorians, Ecuador’s Esmeraldas maintains its cuisine, culture, and particularities of many African countries. Also, the city presents breathtaking landscapes, with outstanding beaches.
The combination of music and dance represents the strongest connection between the land of Afro-Ecuadorians and Africa. For some historians, the African origins of the marimba possibly derives from the bongo, an instrument of the Ngodos, Woro and certain tribes of Angola and Congo. It was brought by them during the African slavery era in the country.
Surely, the “Marimba Esmeraldeña” is a very rich cultural experience for tourists. Appreciated by Afro-Ecuadorian communities, the Marimba is a magnificent spectacle of rhythm, music, seduction and pride. Marimba groups perform all over the city. The band members wear hats and wave handkerchiefs as they dance and sing Afro-Ecuadorian songs.
The African influence is also seen in the land of Afro-Ecuadorians’ cuisine. Fish, shrimp, oysters and other types of seafood are mixed with coconut and coconut milk. One of the most famous dishes is the Encocado. This dish is made with grated coconut and coconut milk added to the fish or to any kind of seafood before cooking.
Another famous dish is Masato or Chucula. Cooked with boiled ripe plantains mashed on a stone together with milk or coconut milk, butter, cheese, egg, all wrapped in a bijao leaf and baked, the Masato makes a delicious combination of flavors for those who enjoy exotic food.
The Green capital
Esmeraldas, also known as the Green Capital, is portrayed as a city with a privileged climate, radiant sun and beautiful beaches that make it a destination for travel all year round.
The beautiful Las Palmas beach, is great for water sports such as surfing or paragliding to observe all the beauty of this space from the sky. But, if tourists prefer to relax, they can enjoy the landscape and rest in a comfortable beach chair, watching the sunset and listening to the sound of the ocean waves at the end of the day.
Atacames, a year-round tourist resort, is just 18.6 miles from the city of Esmeraldas. According to Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism website, Atacames’ a well-developed tourist infrastructure with a plethora of seaside restaurants, bars making it a great beach destination for relaxing.
Another option is to enjoy the natural spa pools of the Tachina, San Mateo and Vuelta Larga parishes.
Visiting Esmeraldas is very easy for Americans. Currently, Ecuador is one of the many countries that are open for tourism, and travelers from anywhere can visit. All travelers must have a negative RT-PCR or antigen test result that was obtained within three days of their arrival in Ecuador or a certificate of vaccination for COVID-19. They must also complete a Health Declaration Form. Additionally, travelers may be subject to random rapid antigen testing on arrival.