Sweet Digs: En Amor Con Amalur
Since I moved away from home I’ve lived in some pretty sweet digs. From a totally off the grid jungle hut generating solar power and catching rain water, to a camper van and road map, to an old nun’s convent converted hostel—I’m trying it all. These are real-life examples of the different dwellings you can find world-wide, if you don’t mind straying out of your comfort zone.
When the Olón housing situation wasn’t working out for us we scrambled to find something with internet where we could catch up on the lost weeks at the Casa Canadiense. We found the Amalur online and decided to trek it up to Montañita’s little brother in the North, Canoa.
Amalur is a Spanish-owned hostel and features 3-bed rooms, double rooms and two apartments for short or long-term stays. They have a restaurant serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner for reasonable prices. The owners, Diego and Lorena, are always present and add a great vibe to the place with chilled out music, laughs and plenty of knowledge of the area. The rooms are clean with cute little touches of Spanish-influence on the walls.
We rented their apartment at the front of the hostel and had our own little entrance separate from the hostel. It had a seating area in the front, a kitchen, a big bedroom with a double bed and a bunk bed, and of course a bathroom. The front seating are had great breezes coming through the windows so it wasn’t too hot on humid days.
The restaurant is the best food in town by far. Their menu is big, with sandwiches, salads, pastas and seafood—all of the items are Spanish influenced. The tortilla Espanol is a big winner, they make it fresh daily for any meal. If you add bacon to it and their homemade bread it also makes a great sandwich. I also loved the eggplant, the octopus and the vegetarian sandwich—but there is so much it’s hard to choose.
Diego and Lorena make the place so special. They treat you like family from when you walk in the door. We were there for Rory’s birthday and Diego prepared an Indian feast with spices he brought from home while Loreno baked him a banana-chocolate cake. It’s so nice to get this warm welcome when you’re so far away from home and friends on such an occasion.
Edgar works at the bar and we became fast friends from day one. His English is excellent (which didn’t help us with practising our Spanish) and he hangs out chatting with you and telling you about the area and his giant new farm he bought. He’s native of the area and has worked in tourism for many years so if there is any advice you want, he’s your guy.
His girlfriend Rachel teaches English at the school in town and we’d sit and have long in-depth chats about Ecuador and the World. It’s nice to meet people who have something to say apart from the typical young backpacker jargon.
The Amalur seems to attract a really great crowd as well, we met great new friends. The young, party-hardy backpackers stick to the malecón hostels and beach-front bars leaving it free of late-night music blasting.
We’d spend afternoons sitting on their rooftop terrace relaxing in their comfy hammocks overlooking town. We’d watch the sunset from here while we work.
The hostel sits right on the town square. There is a volleyball court where you can watch the locals play their Ecuadorian-rules volleyball game. It gets pretty heated and sometimes the cops need to come supervise. Theres also a cement soccer court and a stage. The mayoral elections happened when we were in town and they set up colourful tents for a one-night party to celebrate. It was pretty funny because they blasted the music so loud the windows in the hostel were rattling, yet there were about 10 old Ecuadorian government workers just sitting sipping Pilsener. The two didn’t exactly seem to go together, I don’t know who planned their party but it was a bit of a bust.
Our reason for not staying longer: the internet sucked. I can deal with slow internet but this was hitting-your-head-against-the-table bad. They were getting their signal from another hotel in town that was bringing in its signal via satellite from Bahia. There’s just no way that’s going to be good. It was back to basic html gmail and cyber cafes for Skype, uploading pictures, and basically everything. It was too bad because we really did like it there. On the contrary we did stay in one of their second floor rooms at the back of the hostel at one point which had a much better signal, but for long-term stays as digital nomads, it was a no-go.
If you’re only visiting Canoa for a few days and don’t require much internet connectivity, this is your place. For the long-term, you may need somewhere with a bit more infrastructure. Apart from shitty internet, great food, great rooms, and great people all await at the Amalur.
Have you ever stayed somewhere long-term with unbearably slow internet? How do you deal with it?