Visiting Ecuador

A Day Trip To Ballenita And Farallón Dillon

Street scene of a town square and church, on the bus ride to Ballenita.  

We came across this elegant church while walking through Ballenita. Marcie says the name means "Good Shepherd".  

We saw this colorful house while walking through Ballenita.  

One afternoon we decided to play hooky from boat work and instead headed up the coast to a town called Ballenita (which means "little whale" in Spanish). They were supposed to have a nautical museum and gallery, as well as an overlook to watch migrating whales. We thought it would be interesting to check it out; the trip would require only a local bus ride.

The main bus stop in La Libertád is on the main road across the street from the mall at El Paseo. This is the starting and ending point for several local bus lines that loop around town or visit neighboring towns. After a few questions, we boarded the correct 25-cent bus to Ballenita and had an interesting drive out of town, through a couple of small towns, and into Ballenita. At one point, we passed a big gnarly oil refinery that had huge oil storage tanks and a flaming flare tower.

Ballenita was a sleepy little town with hardly any traffic. The town square had a park with a statue of Pizarro, and nearby there was a big Catholic church and school. It was about a kilometer walk to our destination, and it was a hot sweaty kilometer walking uphill in the afternoon heat. As we rounded the last corner, we saw laid out before us a large rambling estate called Farallón Dillon (which means "Dillon's Cliff"). As we entered the main plaza of the estate, we saw what looked like an old church extensively adorned with artifacts and symbolic sculptures, including icons for the major world religions. The old church was actually the gallery, and was packed with hundreds of nautical curios, historical artifacts and replicas, statues, paintings, models, woodcarvings, furniture, you name it. It was an extremely eclectic collection, with everything from a shrine to the patron saint of the sea (with a large carved statue) to an old claw-footed bathtub with a mermaid painted on the side. Everything had some kind of nautical theme, and everything was for sale.

We got a guided tour of the gallery (with Marcie translating the guide's Spanish), and learned that the collection had been assembled by a retired sea captain, who had created some of the carvings himself. The guide led us to another building that held the museum (as well as a bar and restaurant). Here we saw additional hundreds of curios and artifacts, everything from a display case filled with antique navigational instruments, to authentic treasure and artifacts from a Spanish galleon, to a huge Alaskan moosehead mounted above the fireplace next to a bust of Christopher Columbus. Between the gallery and the museum, the collection was just mind-boggling. The sea captain had amassed such an amazing and eclectic assortment of stuff—he clearly had a lifelong passion for collecting, and had pulled out all the stops and enjoyed his passion to the fullest. To tell the truth, it was a little over-the-top, but in a good way.

We spent quite a while gawking at all the curios then escaped to the broad shaded verandah and ordered a pitcher of lemonade. The estate was perched on a cliff next to the ocean and from the verandah we had an unobstructed view of the ocean and beaches for miles in each direction. We watched some surfers riding the periodic larger waves and listened to green parakeet-like birds chattering nearby.

This is the view of Farallón Dillon as you walk up the street.   This looks like a church entrance, but it's actually the entrance to the gallery.

Detail view of ornamental bells at the entrance to the estate's plaza.   Farallón Dillon's business card (it's twice as tall because it folds in half). "Mirador" means "scenic viewpoint".

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