I recently went to Peru and Ecuador for work. We traveled there to meet with shrimp and tilapia farmers who use our products, ShrimpShield and PondToss to keep the health up and prevent disease. I’ve never been to shrimp farms or fish farms of any kind, nor have I ever traveled out of country, so I didn’t know what to expect on any level.
We traveled a lot while in country staying in a new place every night, which was tiring, but also exciting. The first day we were in Lima, Peru and it’s their winter time, so it was a bit gloomy and there was a bit of a chill in the air. My co-workers and I were able to roam the streets of Lima just a bit. It’s a huge city of several million people and we were staying in the business district, so it was busy and there was a lot of movement. The traffic and driving habits were as crazy as I expected. The cab rides were rough and a bit scary, but we made it through each time. We went to a local restaurant where we tried ceviche and a pisco sour. Both are local traditions and excellent at that, I highly recommend you try them if you are there.
After Lima, we flew to Tumbes, Peru, which is in the very most northern corner of the country. It’s a smaller town and is rundown compared to Lima and if you’re into assigning “a look” to something, it has the stereotypical third world country look that most Americans would expect. The people were very friendly and although you hear of crime and theft in these places, there wasn’t a time that I didn’t feel safe. I do recommend that you be careful if you are there and we did have a guide that is very experienced with the area, but I didn’t feel unwelcome or like I was in danger one time while I was there. The people are very welcoming and helpful. Our group didn’t speak much Spanish (with the exception of our guide) and the locals were very accommodating to our inability to communicate vocally.
The hotels were clean and quiet until the construction started. The breakfasts were made to order by the hotel staff and accompanied with tasty rolls and homemade cheese. The coffee was particularly delicious. It was a concentrated strong serving given to us in a tiny serving dish. You pour a small amount into your cup and then pour the hot water they bring you over the concentrate. That was the first time I had coffee that way, but the memory stands out in my mind mostly because coffee is one of my favorite things and it’s a new way to drink it for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Before our group hit the shrimp and fish farms, we were able to go to the Mangroves of Tumbes. It’s a fascinating little eco-system that is crawling with different types of wildlife. We all piled into a small boat and took in the scenery. We were able to be there during a mating season of the frigate birds, where the males puff out their red gular pouch to attract a mate. One of the little islands in the mangroves were covered with the frigates. It was interesting to see them and listen to them as we floated by.
After we left the mangroves, we headed into Ecuador to stay at a customers house. I use the term house loosely, because it was more like a palace with wings, settled on a huge amount of lush fruit tree covered land. Santa Rosa is the small town and there were no hotels for us and nothing close by. We had to cross the boarder which was a little daunting, but we didn’t have any problems. You just have to fill out paper work and there are guys standing around with M16’s everywhere, so it’s a bit of a process, but that’s to be expected. The customer we stayed with was extremely nice and he opened his home to us, fed us dinner, breakfast and lunch the next day. We ate a lot of wonderfully fresh fruit and I personally enjoyed the cherimoya and pitaya (dragon fruit). They were both new fruits to me and I really enjoyed how sweet and fresh they both were. If you ever get the chance, go for it.
We were taken on a tour of the customers shrimp farms and they were so much bigger than I expected. I was impressed with how he appreciates the nature of how things grow organically, which is one reason of the may reasons he uses the Keeton Industries products, and you can see it in how he manages his shrimp farm. The farm is teaming with wildlife. There were a vast amount of different types of birds including a family of tiny owls living on the banks of the farm. It was a wonderful experience to see firsthand the effort and care he puts into the shrimp farm and all of the life that it includes.
The following days included more shrimp farm tours and new information about how our customers use our products. It was eye opening and educational, not to mention the extreme value we gained from seeing our products in action. Because most of our shrimp and fish products are used internationally, we don’t usually get an opportunity to see them in use by the end user in other countries. Over 90% of the shrimp we eat in America comes from other countries, so it was very valuable to me as a marketer and as a shrimp lover to see how the shrimp we eat are raised.
When we left Santa Rose, Ecuador, we headed back down to Tumbes, Peru. We traveled for a couple of more days for work related tasks, then we had a couple of days of down time before heading back to the states. Our guide has a friend with a beach house, so we headed down highway one south to stay there for a couple of days. The weather was a bit gloomy and rainy. We went to the beach the first night there and had an encounter with a sea lion, four donkeys, and thousands of sea crab. It didn’t coincide all at once, but it did all happen in the same night. The sea lion encounter was a bit scary since it was pitch black and all we heard was his “hey you shouldn’t be that close to me” warning snort. One of the guys in our group put the light on him as he hurried back into sea.
We had a great couple of days hanging out at the beach house getting to know new people and checking out the local towns. The markets were interesting to visit and a tad overwhelming for my introverted, six feet of personal space bubble that I carry with me every where, but a great experience nonetheless. The people were welcoming and friendly. The atmosphere every where we went was laid back and easy. There was none of that hurried pace we see here in America. I got the sense that it’s all about eating good food, having good drink and just living life down there. It was a great trip and I highly recommend going if the opportunity presents itself.
In spite of all the fun, by the eighth day all of my senses were fully overwhelmed and I was ready to get back to the wonderfully comfortable USA. My group headed off to Columbia for more work related events. I flew back to Houston and then to Denver and I was massively glad to be back home. My favorite part of any trip, no matter how much fun, is the moment I pull into my garage and my family is waiting for me with smiles and anticipation.