Monthly Archives :

December 2017

recetas esmeraldeñas
Our very short Esmeraldas cookbook 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

Our very short Esmeraldas cookbook


The Real-Deal Esmeraldas Black Conch Ceviche (serves 4)

1 kg of live black conch shells (they must be at least 4.5 centimeters in diameter… do not accept smaller shells, they are banned and threaten the species’ existence)
1 tomato peeled, chopped and seedless
1 onion
Cilantro (and local chillangua)
4 lemons
salt to taste
olive oil

Chop the onion into thin slices and let sit in salted water for 5 to 10 minutes (or do as the Esmeraldas cooks would: cut the onion into thin slices and place them, in your hands, under running water for a few seconds while squeezing to remove the bitterness, then leave aside in a bowl with some salt). Split the shell in half and take out the meat and ink (juice) into a container. Add lemon juice, tomatoes, chillangua and chopped coriander and pickled onion. Season with salt and olive oil to taste.


Seafood rice, Atacames style (serves 6)

½ kg of shrimp
½ kg of clams
½ kg of black conch
½ kg of squid
4 cups of fish/seafood stock
2 peeled tomatoes, chopped and seedless
8 garlics, mashed
1 onion
1 paprika
oil with achiote (annatto)
cumin
chopped herbs: basil, cilantro and local chirarán and chillangua
2 cups of rice
1 coconut
Butter
Salt
Pepper

Grate the meat of half a coconut and then squeeze with your hands until you fill a cup with the milk (that’s the local way… but you can also get prepared coconut milk at your local supermarket). Sautee chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic and peppers in the oil with annatto, and turn it onto a sauce. Add cumin, chopped herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Add coconut milk and cook until thick. Separate from the flame. Open half of the clams and conchs. Salt them, sprinkle with oil, lemon juice and local chillangua or chopped coriander and roast for 10 minutes, (or you can also place them in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes). Cut the squid into medallions and place them, with the shrimp, in the sauce and mix over low heat for 5 minutes. In a large pot, melt oil and butter, add salt to taste and add the two cups of raw rice, stirring until all the rice is “lubricated” (30 seconds). Add 2 cups of fish broth (or water) and cook until the rice is almost ready, just a little hard. Mix this rice with the sauce, shrimp, conchs and remaining clams (which you did not roast) and squid, mixing so that the sauce is spread evenly. Add another cup of fish stock until the rice is ready (if the rice is still hard, add more broth). Serve on a large tray decorating the plate with the roasted/baked shells and clams.


The fish Encocao

1 coconut
1 kilo of white fish
1 onion
1 tomato
1 green pepper
6 garlics, mashed
Beer
Vegetable oil with achiote (annatto)
Half a cup of chopped herbs: local chirarán and chillangua and/or chopped cilantro

Split a ripe coconut in half with a machete and grate the coconut meat. Squeeze this meat with your hands and set this milk aside (or buy the coconut milk at the market, which is certainly less time-consuming, but also less fun). In the heated vegetable oil with achiote cook the finely chopped onion, garlic, tomato and green pepper until the sauce is thick. Add local chillangua and chiraran and chopped cilantro with ¼ cup of beer, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until sauce thickens again. Remove some of the sauce and place the fish in the frying pan until it is drenched in sauce. Make sure the fish only browns on the outside and does not cook on the inside. Remove the fish from the burner. Cook the rehash that you set aside in the coconut milk for 10 minutes over low heat until it thickens and then add it to the fish and cook for 5 more minutes over low heat until the coconut sauce has fully penetrated the meat…


Margarita’s shrimp ceviche

1 kilo of shrimp
2 tomatoes
1 onion
Cilantro
2 sour oranges
4 limes
Salt to taste
Olive oil

Chop the onion into thin slices and let sit in salted water for 5 to 10 minutes (or do as Margarita, a local Esmeraldas cook would, by cutting the onion into thin slices and place them, in your hands, under running water for a few seconds while squeezing to remove the bitterness, then leave aside in a bowl with some salt). Peel, devein and clean the shrimp and place them for no more than two minutes in a pot of boiling water, separated from the flame, until they look orange/pink. Drain the shrimp but do not lose the boiled water. Place the shrimp in a bowl in the refrigerator. Squeeze the oranges and lemons in a bowl and add a half cup of the shrimp juice. Add the onion and chopped herbs. Peel the tomatoes and with the fork, mash the tomato with salt and pepper. When the shrimp have cooled, join all ingredients together and add salt and olive oil to taste.

ingredientes únicos de Esmeraldas
Unique ingredients 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

Unique ingredients

Fruits from the sea, river and mangroves

Esmeraldas is known for its seafood, and some of these ingredients are very specific and are central to the province’s culinary identity. Familiarize yourself with these outstanding ingredients that make Esmeraldas’ food so special…

The Esmeralda table

Green 9 is the ideal place to get to know these delights, but you cannot only enjoy excellent local dishes (and pizzas) at our TikiHouse restaurant, you can hire a local Esmeraldas chef to cook for you and prepare some of the tastiest local dishes. Or why not, try your culinary talents out and immerse yourself in the fabulous world of Ecuadorian coastal cuisine, by buying local produce and reading some of our posts, where we will share with you recipes, stories and other reasons to be passionate about Esmeraldas’ culinary culture.

The black conch

Harvested in the mangroves that dominate the Esmeraldas coastline, these small black shells are uniquely flavored and absolutely crucial when preparing the black conch ceviche (ceviche de concha), one of Ecuador’s most iconic dishes. The black conch is an emblem of the mangrove ecosystem and those who harvest them have created a very special bond with their mangrove environment, which they protect and, in these times of deforestation, for which they have created interesting community projects to safeguard their conch-harvesting culture and practices for future generations.

The blue crab

A unique crustacean: its actualy sky to deep blue with red legs and a yellow claw. In certain parts of the province, like Vuelta Larga de Rioverde, they are fattened with cassava, corn and even coconut… which guarantees unparalleled flavor.

Pateburro

A brackish water snail very common in encocaos (coconut-sauce stews) and ceviches throughout the province, which many outsiders consider exotic…

Shrimp

Esmeraldas is shrimp country. Hundreds of shrimp farms spread out along the coastal plains. However, artisanal fishermen still collect minchilla, a delicious river shrimp that occasionally can be found in dives at local fishing villages.

Unique herbs

In Esmeraldas, several spices and herbs dominate the flavor of dishes, including basil, lemongrass, coriander and two unique herbs called chillangua and chirarán that come from the dense forests within the province.

The green plantain

One of the most important accompaniments in local Esmeraldas cuisine, is green plantain bolones and patacones… you’ll love their taste. You should also taste the very unique plantain empanadas… there’s nothing like it anywhere else on Earth (you can taste them throughout the country, since they are a staple of the Ecuadorian menu).

The coconut

One of the essential ingredients in Esmeraldas is the coconut. We can even say you know you are in Esmeraldas if everything you taste has coconut in it. Coconut in a garlic sauce, a coconut milkshake, coconut in your drink any which way, coconut in your dessert (try the flan and the bite-sized cocadas!), coconut with your seafood, coconut with your chicken… you may think it exaggerated, but you will certainly understand why it is so after being exposed to it for any number of days! It’s addictive!

Flora y fauna de Esmeraldas
Nature, boundless nature 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

Nature, boundless nature

With such biodiversity, Esmeraldas is becoming a true nature destination. Discover its wonders!

The forests

The mangroves are perhaps the most emblematic natural emblems of the province. Esmeraldas is also home to the world’s highest mangrove, the Majagual, a fascinating two-hour visit from Green 9.
The tropical dry forests are home to amazing hardwood trees, including the stoic guayacanes, while the humid forests, typical of the Chocó region, cover immense tracts of land, a true green mantle crucial to the balance of our planet’s climate. You can venture inside these forests during river visits and be absorbed by their magnificence. Playa de Oro, on the Santiago River, is a place coveted by birders from all over the world, for its forests full of difficult-to-find species.

Palms and palm groves

There is a great diversity of native palms, whose leaves are used to make different arts and crafts, as in the case of the chachi and epera cultures that commercialize their locally sourced and handmade products. You can visit them along the Cayapas River from Borbón (2-and-a-half hour care ride from Green 9, and then another hour by boat to the communities). Tagua is a seed that comes from another species of palm tree. It is known as vegetable ivory, and was once exported from these forests to make buttons in Europe. Of course, there is also the ubiquitous coconut tree: emblematic and sculptural, they line the coast with their leafy fronds and provide the fruit that fills food in Esmeraldas with all its flavor.

Whales

In July and August, the colossal Humpback Whales cross the entire great Pacific Ocean from Oceania to breed in the warm waters of the Ecuadorian coast. This is the ideal time and place to see them breach in all their splendor.

Birds

Esmeraldas is one of the richest provinces in terms of bird diversity, with eight Important Bird Areas (IBAS), where unique marine and tropical forest species are found. Different habitats, such as mangrove habitats, tropical dry forests, tropical rainforests and beaches are a great attraction for birders from around the globe.

Howler monkeys and other mammals

There are several places to visit where howler monkeys have been recorded, and can even be considered common. Other iconic mammals include anteaters, peccaries and wild cats such as ocelots or the sacred jaguar, a furtive creature that prowls the forest floor.

Deportes de aventura en Esmeraldas
Come in contact with the great outdoors in Esmeraldas 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

Come in contact with the great outdoors in Esmeraldas

Adventures for all tastes

Esmeraldas never disappoints. It seems to have been created to satisfy everyone’s spirit of adventure. Discover caves hidden beneath the high tide or waterfalls hidden among the lianas, rivers lost in a sea of mangroves and deserted solitary islands where your steps will feel like the first.

Biking

One of coastal Ecuador’s best biking routes begins right here in Green 9. You head west towards the very special Punta Galera, a scenic detour from the main highway south that runs 55 kilometers up and down a low elevation coastal mountain range, advancing to the shore itself, with several stops at picturesque fishing villages that invite you to explore, eat delicious food and get to know local livelihoods. You can visit several interesting beaches, beautiful viewpoints and reach Muisne to visit mangroves and explore the lonely and very special Isla Bonita.

Jogging on the beach

The extensive beach of Same is an excellent space to exercise your muscles early in the morning or as the sun sets… Our tents offer personal assistance and are located on the beach in case you need anything (also think yoga, meditation or any morning or evening exercise to decompress, as the the sea’s sacred breeze caresses your body).

Tennis and Golf

Take advantage of our well-appointed tennis courts, open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, at a cost of $ 8 per hour. Green 9, as our name suggests, also offers access to an excellent nine-hole golf course that awaits beginners and experts alike.

The rates go from 40/person all day.
Golf equipment: USD 15 / day
Golf cart: 30 USD / day
Golf lessons: 15 USD / person

Hiking

Visit the highest mangroves in the world or discover a hole in the earth forest that emanates natural gas. Hikes to beautiful waterfalls or fabulous descents amid tropical forest, like the one that takes you to the magical beach of Caimito, await… excelent hiking for sure!

Surfing

Mompiche is one of the best destinations in the country to learn to “surf”. You can take introductory classes, and even buy locally-shaped surfboards. Less than an hour from Green 9, start your surfing adventure and get to know one of the best waves in the country.

Culturas que visitar en Esmeraldas
The different cultures of Esmeraldas 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

The different cultures of Esmeraldas

A melting pot of cultural diversity

Esmeraldas is made up of several native groups that are considered ethnically different from each other, some of which even foster their own languages and live in remote places. You can visit them and get to know their fabulous history and culture on the banks of the Chumundé, Bogotá, Cayapas and Santiago rivers.

The Awá

A culture settled in the northernmost region of the country (its population in neighboring Colombia is larger) with rudimentary community tourism programs along the Bogotá River, in the Awá Bioanthropological Reserve.

The Éperas

Mostly from neighboring Colombia: one of the only places in Ecuador to meet this native ethnic group is the small river town of Santa Rosa, on the Cayapas River, where they have a community school that teaches the local Épera language to their children, and where the local families sell their handicrafts.

The Chachis

The most present native ethnic group in the province, formerly known as “Cayapas”, are the Chachis. They are known for their handicraft production (they actually make over 200 items with native reeds and plants, and can be visited in several different communities along different rivers, offering cross-cultural tourism in places like Pichiyacu Grande, Canandé or Medianía. Most of these visits are found about 3-4 hours from Green 9.

Afro-Ecuadorian community

The importance of the Afro-Ecuadorian community in Esmeraldas is profound. Its presence, historically and culturally, has transformed the essence of the province, through a unique cuisine, a very representative literature, and the fabulous music and dance of the marimba, among several other cultural manifestations that fill with fascination and reverie those who venture to discover their legacy. You can visit places like Borbón, where the renowned marimba-musician Papá Roncón lives, and even go inland to Playa de Oro or San Miguel, where marimba ensembles liven up the evenings with their talent.

Platos típicos de esmeraldas con verde
Green is the colour 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

Green is the colour

The green plantain is a highlight of Esmeraldas cuisine, and Green 9 tells you all about it

Green is the colour: Esmeraldas love for green plantains

The green plantain holds a great mystery. Was it here before the Spaniards arrived or not? Many would say no… it came after the West contacted these distant lands, as we know well was the case of the banana, which was brought from Africa. There are several theories, however, and some are quite convincing.

Why are chefs in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabí so skillful and inventive when manipulating the “verde”, or green plantain? Esmeraldeños, like natives of the neighborhing province of Manabí, turn the verde into anything they want. It is true that there has been enough time to perfect the art of cooking with green plantain since the times of Spanish Conquest –a lot can be done in 500 years—but even so, when one realizes how indispensable this ingredient is for the province’s culinary culture, one can only imagine that perhaps it had already been there, always… How did it arrive? Well, that is another question…!

The green plantain, as we said above, is essential in any Esmeraldas kitchen. Few and far between are the dishes that do not include green plantain. It is a common accompaniment, but, in many cases, it is also part of the main dish.

There are, of course, the patacones, which are not exclusive of Esmeraldas, but are found throughout the Americas (in some places known as tostones). But there are also green plantain empanadas, which are, on the other hand, very Ecuadorian. From what we know, nobody else prepares them but us. The plantain is ground until it reaches the most unique consistency of raw dough (like that which you’d use to make a pie). The cook will then be easily able to mold it into an empanada (a most sublime and special tasting one at that). Then there are the tapaos, an ancient preparation in which green plantain comes togher with fish in a deep saucepan, which is covered with a large jungle leaf in order to retain the heat and unique flavors. There is also the chifle, the famous plantain “chip”, which so deliciously accompanies ceviches.

In short, verde is everywhere…

Bala or bolón

The bolón is well known to any Ecuadorian, green plantain mashed up into a sphere with cheese and other ingredients… But few Ecuadorians have ever heard of, let alone seen, a bala (or bullet, in Spanish). In Esmeraldas, it’s all an existential question between the bala and the bolón… Are you more bolón or are you more bala?

The bala is soft, not lumpy, it can be fried, although often it is not… Cooking requires more patience than a bolón, of course: more time mashing, crushing, making sure the consistency is homogeneous. Of course, we assume that the bolón was invented first … and that the most sophisticated palate processed it into the bala. But don’t take our word for it!

There is even a “bearded bala,” which is made with pulled meat, common at breakfast to add some protein to the day.

It is common in houses in Esmeraldas, although eateries throughout the province also serve it. A place known for its bala de verde is El Enganche, located in San Vicente de Rioverde, a town a short distance from the town of Palestina (1 hour from Green 9) that serves the bala alongside a delicious coconut chicken and shrimp dish. But without having to go that far, in Green 9 you can try it yourself, buying the ingredients. A local cook can come teach you how to prepare it… It’s not difficult… it’s just a matter of seeing how it is made.

Is the bullet like a bolon… but more refined?

Perhaps. The bolon has more of that street flavor… that quickly concocted delicacy you need to dig your teeth into, oh so common throughout Ecuador’s coast, especially to start off the day with a warm cup of coffee.

Whatever the case may be, you cannot miss out on Tonchigüe delicious shrimp bolón! Walk west from our beach at Same and ask around at the beachside kiosks!

Manglares de Esmeraldas
The mangrove’s beauty 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

The mangrove’s beauty

Don’t miss out on the wonderful world of Esmeraldas’ mangrove beds. We tell you all about their importance and the best places to visit from Green 9

How do mangroves grow?

They are like spearheads. They are some of the first colonizing plants of coastal ecosystems as their “seeds”, like small stakes, thrust into the sand as the tide brings them into the shore. They then germinate, proliferate and end up covering a deserted stretch of beach with branches, foliage, and eventually, a wide array of wildlife.

The mangrove is very important from an ecological and social standpoint, and the fact it is becoming more and more reduced along the Esmeraldas coastline has represented struggle for local communities. Many families, for example, are “concheros”, they “harvest” black conch, a small endemic shell found in mangroves throughout the country. If the mangroves were to disappear, this age-old tradition and source of sustenance would disappear, as well as one of the most emblematic dishes of our country: the black conch ceviche (ceviche de concha).

But habitat reduction is not the only challenge the black conch has to survive, since the concheros, to sell this ingredient, are forced to harvest (illegally) immature shells to make a living. These have not yet had the opportunity to reproduce, so the sustained activity of harvesting them is depleting generation after generation of the species, which could end up exterminating it. For this reason, there is a governmental ban on black conch that measures less than 4.5 centimeters in diameter.

With the reduction of mangroves, many fish also disappear, and since fish, which reach the mangrove to feed themselves, have less and less mangrove to do so, fishermen are now forced to go further and further into the sea to fish, which in turn is more dangerous (and expensive) for them.

The mangroves are already much less extensive than they were twenty years ago. Their gradual destruction is also a problem in the face of climate change, already palpable all over the world, as they also serve to protect coastal areas as natural levies against tide and waves.

Every time we visit a mangrove bed, we are helping conch-harvesting communities and Ecuadorian traditions to stay alive. That’s something to keep in mind when planning your visit, because the boat rides, in themselves, are magical. As you navigate along the mangrove beds, exploring mangrove, silent waterways, discovering beautiful herons, crustaceans and other species, you’ll understand why some refer to them as a little Venice of nature…

Where to go

Mangrove visits are, in particular, one of the most important tourism activities in coastal communities. Esmeraldas still has important areas of mangrove, including Piangapí, a small community and mangrove reserve located within the city of Esmeraldas (the only protected mangrove reserve within the urban limits of any city in Ecuador). Esmeraldas is only half an hour from Green 9.

Perhaps the best-known mangroves (less than 1 hour away from Green 9) are found at Muisne, to the south of Green 9. Here you can visit the community of Bellavista and locals will show you their surroundings and even organize a delicious seafood meal in town. There is also Isla Bonita, a boat ride you can hire at the entrance of Muisne, where you can also visit mangroves before arriving on the island.

Further south, turning off at Mompiche, you can reach Bolívar, Portete and Chamanga, also extensive mangroves; you can venture to the beautiful and deserted Isla Jupiter, a silent stretch of palm trees worth discovering.

Finally, and perhaps the most imposing mangrove visit in the world, is Majagual. About 2 hours from Green 9 to the north, passing Las Peñas, this beautiful reserve is home to the tallest mangroves in our planet, some measuring over fifty meters high!

Viajar a Esmeraldas de vacaciones
Make Esmeraldas a part of your life! 1024 576Ñan - La revista de viajes del Ecuador

Make Esmeraldas a part of your life!

It is a small introduction to what we’ll be posting online, and we’re sure that while we’re at it, you fall in love with Esmeraldas as much as we have!

Make Esmeraldas a part of your life!

Only a couple of decades have passed since the first highways were built connecting the capital, Quito, to Esmeraldas, and since then, visiting the province to spend the holidays has become an important part of the lives of those who reside in the northern highlands.

It has always been a fabulous destination. With paradisiacal beaches, beautiful palm groves, small fishing villages full of personality and a tourism infrastructure that has little by little made it comfortable and fun to spend some time here.

It continues to be a place of great beauty, but we do little to really take advantage of how beautiful it actually is. This land is home to joyful people, excellent food, beautiful landscapes and great music. Esmeraldas is a land blessed with magnificent beaches, that is undeniable, but its nature is much more than just sand and sea. Beautiful tropical forests, dry forests, mangroves and uninhabited islets, rivers running along lush unexplored jungles that are among the most biodiverse in the world… Esmeraldas is truly special.

Getting to know this province better will fill whoever ventures into its glorious depths with unforgettable experiences. From seeing a whale breaching from the water or passing next to beautiful Blue-footed Boobies, visiting the mangroves, navigating rivers, getting to know the cultures that live in here, hunting for octopus along the rocks at low tide, listening to marimba ensembles, eating freshly caught prawns and cooking them in a delectable coconut and garlic sauce, strolling down lonely beaches, under the shade of tall, stoic palm trees… Esmeraldas is much more than meets the eye. And that, for us, is this province’s most precious treasure.

How do I make the best of my Esmeraldas vacation?

Some of you have maybe been visiting Esmeraldas for years. Many of our readers may visit us at Green 9 often and many have made their Esmeraldas vacation a staple of their yearly calendar. But Esmeraldas can become even more important in our lives. This provence can really have an impact as a true life-changing destination. We are sure of it. And some of you may be interested in knowing why.

The first thing you must do is “think outside the resort”. You have to get to these beaches with a little curiosity and desire to see and do something more than spend your time only taking advantage of the Green 9 facilities. The beaches of Same, where we are located, are beautiful. The facilities offer all the comforts you could wish for: a great pool, a great restaurant, sports courts for recreation… and you can always just do that. But making a plunge into the Esmeraldas heartland, so to speak, if it is something that interests you, is well worth exploring and will, undeniably, offer great experiences for you and your loved ones.

You could start by reserving one day (out of the five during which you stay with us) to explore… It’s a way, of course, to get to know yourself. Maybe you will realize that you really prefer staying near the pool (there are always those who don’t even like venturing off to the beach when they’re with us). But it could also happen that the adventure bug will bite you and you will crave to extend your visit to discover different corners of this marvelous province.

We, in any case, are interested in taking something more from this beautiful province than its beautiful sunsets, its beautiful beach days and the relaxed environment you find at Green 9. We would love for you to find that passion for Esmeraldas.

The province’s warm and generous people also really want you to visit and get to know their communities, forests, waterfalls… Their inlets, their seafood dishes, their rivers, their poems and songs make them proud. And we will be offering in our posts many reasons and options so that you can start filling your vacations with these special experiences, at your will and at your pace. Make Esmeraldas a part of your life at Green 9!