Since moving to the beach here in San Clemente, Ecuador we have had to change our life style somewhat. Most of those changes have been very easy! For example, we no longer have raincoats, parkas, sweaters, hoodies, gloves, mittens, and a dozen wool hats stuffed into a closet near the front door. We have not set an alarm clock for more than two years. And, we have to search around in the bottom of our drawers to find long pants two or three times a year when we need to, “dress-up!”
One of the other changes we have made requires that we check the tide charts. The beach in San Clemente and San Jacinto has a very gradual slope and when the tide is low, flat stretches of wide open beach allow for pleasant walks on compacted sand for miles on beaches about fifty yards wide! But, twice each 24 hour period high tides come and lap up against the rocks in spots leaving only isolated sections of dry sand beach. In San Clemente and San Jacinto the regularly dry sections are generally used by fishermen to keep their boats above sea level when not in use. So, when we want to walk on the beach – we first check the local tide chart at: http://tides.mobilegeographics.com/locations/3576.html and schedule our walk to allow for plenty of open beach at low tide.
For the last week (and now especially this last weekend and today) the whole shore of Ecuador has been experiencing what is called locally an aguaje (pronounced ah-guah-hey). We are fortunate to live in an area that is somewhat protected by a large bay-like shallow water area that moderates the waves most of the time, so we have not experienced some of the destruction and road damage that others up and down the coast have been experiencing, But even our bay does not stop the sea from rising and falling as dictated by the moon, sun, and earth’s rotation.
On Friday, I had to run to San Jacinto in the afternoon for errands and I took along my camera to see if I could document the effects of the aguaje in our area. Looking northward up the beach from central San Jacinto looked like this on Friday afternoon.
This view might not mean much to many of you, but most of the beach between where I was standing and the Hotel San Jacinto (the white building on the jetty in the distance) generally has twenty-five or thirty feet of exposed dry beach at high tide. On this afternoon the waves were splashing up against the rock walls that protect the malecon (beach-side roadway).
Three days of unusually high tide had washed sand and debris up onto the roadway and some of the low lying lots on the beach road were small lakes.
The bamboo posts in this picture are generally used on dry beach to support shade tents and to hang up hammocks.
These waves are washing into the outside dining area of the Hotel San Jacinto and turning their pool into a sea water aquarium.
In San Clemente the fishermen had to move their boats high up onto the beach above the ramada structures they generally use to store their boats.
Gratefully, our friend Jan’s house sits high enough on the rocks to be unaffected by the waves of the aguaje.
The following video clip gives you an idea of the waves sloshing onto the malecon in San Jacinto:
And this one shows an area of beach generally dry at high tide where fishermen usually line up their boats and work on their nets:
But, my Ecuadorian friends take all of this in stride and make the most of the high tides! Here is a family that came from Portoviejo to go to the beach. Apparently, they did not check the tide charts and, instead spent their time waiting for the tide to recede at this boat ramp:
And again as a bigger wave washed up:
Having raised sons in Southern California, I was not surprising to see young men and boys taking advantage of the higher tides just like true Californians would.
We have one more day of extra high tides to go today and then the beach should go back to its’ normal boundaries, the fishermen will retrieve their boats from the high ground, cities and home owners will clean up and life will return to normal here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!