Fishing is one of the main industries in Puerto Lopez, but sadly, the morning fish market seems to be overlooked most of the time. Perhaps the smelly dead fishes fresh catch of the day does not appeal much to people unless they are served on a plate? 😏 Nevertheless, visiting the morning fish market was a highlight during my short stay at Puerto Lopez.
Located on the southern end of the Ecuadorian coast near to the pier, it’s hard to miss the lively atmosphere with birds circling above while fishermen handle their fresh catch; some haggling, others weighing and chopping up huge fishes that measure more than half the length of a grown man!
A combination of fishy
stench scent and mouth-watering seafood aroma threatened to confuse one’s sense of smell. At the same time, I was fascinated by the gruesomely bloody yet intriguing sight of the fishermen skilfully cleaning the fishes.
A kind fisherman
‘adopted’ me proudly showed me around and tried to explain the types of fishes, their market value, and life in the morning fish market. I was impressed by his knowledge that extends from selecting the best species of fish for particular dishes to international fish trade! As I followed him gingerly on the wet beach with trails of red and flying bits of fish carcass, he called out to friends and pointed out some of their quirky characteristics to me. Our hearty laughters floated over the ebbing waves. Everyone knew everyone else in this small town.
I was reminded of Mui Ne in Vietnam, where my easy rider took me to the coast by the South China Sea. Then, I was also warmly welcomed by friendly fishermen on the beach. I tried to convey this to my newfound friend, and so began one of the most fulfilling conversations that I had during my Ecuadorian trip.
“Are you happy to be here?” I asked my knowledgeable fisherman friend, and I found solace in his answer. “Yes, this is home.”
Life in Puerto Lopez is simple and ‘muy tranquilo’ (a common Latin American term for ‘peaceful/idyllic’), and he would not trade it for any other places in the world. He also shared about his family and invited me for a meal at his home. Apparently, men in Puerto Lopez can cook and do so occasionally. Ain’t that awesome?
Our conversation reminded me once again that no matter where we are on Earth, we are all just trying to make a living, and perhaps sometimes, less is more.
What to do at the morning fish market?
Early bird catches the worm. In this case, one will catch the fishermen at work starting from 6am. Besides purchasing fresh catch for a delicious meal (can be cooked immediately at the sheltered market), the lively atmosphere on the beach is an eye-opener. Take some photos or interact with the friendly locals. There are some mobile food vendors if you’d like a snack.
Note: Dress casual and in waterproof shoes or flip flops, as things can get messy. It’s all worth it though.
The above information is based on the author’s own experience and should only be used as a reference. For more information on the destination, do check out: https://ecuador.travel/