A Solo Female Traveler's Experiences On And Off The Beaten Path

Enjoying Carnivale In Crucita, Ecuador



On a very hot and sunny afternoon in Canoa, Ecuador a newly made friend, whom I referred to as Garth from Wayne’s World due to his striking resemblance to the character, I was informed that Carnivale in Canoa was going to be absolute madness. Call me naive, but I did not think Carnivale was a big deal outside of Brazil. I could not have been more misinformed. Carnivale is huge in Ecuador, and the locals make their way to the beach cities to have fun for three days partying. You cannot blame them, as it is a National holiday and they all have the time off work.

The question then lingered in the air for days…to stay in Canoa and deal with the thousands who come to this usually sleepy town and take it over or head east to Mindo, maybe Quito, or south and hope that Crucita would be tamer. It is worth noting that all of the ex-pat gringos go into hiding in Canoa during Carnivale; yet another tidbit I learned from Garth.

After discovering the hostel that had been so cheap for the past week, at $10/per person a night, was now going to be $25/per person a night, the decision to leave became easier. Same goes for the fact that all of the good places to eat suddenly had different chefs and the cuisine had taken a major landslide. Where to go, though? The entire country was going to be busy, so there was no “safe” place. My traveling partner and I decided that if Carnivale was going to be crazy anywhere we went we may as well head to a place that had something more to offer, and was already on our list: Crucita, Ecuador. Paragliding in Crucita is very good; so even if it is was crazy busy at least he could fly. I would of course hide in my room and read a book–I do not like crowds.

The beach cities of Ecuador vary from being very sleepy and peaceful (Tonsupa, Canoa), to crowded and busy (Atacamas, Manta). Crucita falls on the peaceful side of the spectrum. To be honest, it feels almost deserted most of the time. Except during Carnivale.

The view from my sanctuary during Carnivale in Crucita, and all the people on the beach.

The view from my sanctuary during Carnivale in Crucita, and all the people on the beach.

Carnivale in Crucita is busy…very busy. People come from who knows where and take over the beach, the malecon, and businesses that were closed prior to Carnivale are suddenly open all day and night. People are selling items on the beach, the waterfront, and have built pop-up restaurants in each and every corner of the main street. The cotton candy vendor walks the beach all day, and the one woman who normally sells coconut concoctions and cookies has competition suddenly–by multiple others. The entire sleepy town comes alive for three days and while it may be quite a change from the norm it is anything but unbearable. In fact, Carnivale in Crucita is quite fun because it maintains a level of sanity. You can enjoy yourself in town and then find peace and quiet relaxing at one of the hostels located down the beach away from the malecon. I recommend “Hostel Crucita,” but more on that later.

I found Carnivale in Crucita to be quite fun. There was live music, lots of children having a blast spraying foam on others and giggling as they did it, and just the atmosphere of people reveling in the holiday was infectious. We made the right choice coming to Crucita for Carnivale; and staying an extra week afterwards.

Carnivale Live Band On The Malecon

Carnivale Live Band On The Malecon

There was one night, the last night of Carnivale, that we learned the hard way about throwing water around. It seems that for the first two days of Carnivale people spray foam on one another–and that easily wipes off, no problem. On the third day the water comes out. Filling up buckets, cups, or really anything that will hold water, the children (and some adults) will spray you with foam and then douse you with water. No, the water is not clean. Yes, the mixture of foam and dirty water will stain your clothes. We got nailed a couple times. At first, I wanted to wage war against the child, the male adult, amongst others who got me. Then I ate a Magnum Menta ice cream bar and felt much better. I even laughed, while scrubbing my shirt in the sink, trying desperately to remove the green stains that had formed. It is all part of the fun for Carnivale and next year I will be prepared; foam in hand, water bucket in the other, and all the children better beware.

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