I have spent the past month-ish in Canoa, Ecuador. I love Canoa, it is a quiet, beautiful little fishing village, with sand roads, lots of sunshine, good waves so i can surf everyday, and amazing people. It is inexpensive and has everything I need to be happy. It is paradise. Everyday in Canoa, I encounter amazing new people, surf, I started to take capoeira lessons on the beach daily, as well as salsa lessons nightly. My plan was to stay in Canoa for as long as possible, 2 months more, then work my way south when it was a little warmer. Owen told me that it is super cold in Peru and Bolivia right now, and I m not ready for cold...so the plan was to wait...but the plan has changed, Canoa is no longer an option for me, paradise has been lost.
On May 30 at 3:40am, Makako, one of the locals who had become a close friend of mine, was shot and killed while we were at a bar on the beach. It all started a week earlier, on a friday night. While in the street with a crowd of people after the bars closed, a single man pulled out a gun and started firing at the crowd. I had just started to walk back to my hostel, so luckily, was a bit ahead of the crowd when I hear someone yell ¨Corre!(run)¨ and then heard a series of 7 shots fired. I have never run so hard in my life.It was one of the single most frightening moments in my life up until that point. Shortly after seeking refuge in my hostel with a group of other people who needed to get off of the street for fear of being shot, one of my friends recieved a phone call, and a group of the guys started to run back to where the shots had been fired. Fearing that one of my friends had been injured, I followed behind. I was wrong in my assumption. It turned out that a couple of the guys had managed to get ahold of the shooter, and started to beat him up, then the group joined in too....as soon as i realized what was going on, I ran again, as fast as I could back to my hostel, the last thing I wanted to see was someone killed, no matter who it was. This was the beginning of chaos in Canoa. Luckily that night, nobody was shot, nobody was killed.
It turned out that apparently the guy who had been beaten, the guy who had fired the shots was a part of the Colombian mafia...and now wants revenge on the people who beat him. Last weekend, on saturday night, while at a full moon party at a bar on the beach, two men with guns opened fire, killing my friend. I myself was nearly hit by 3 bullets. One hit where I was sitting, another missed my foot by millimeters( i could feel the sand as the bullet hit the ground), and another just missed my head, I could feel the air as it passed by. You feel the bullets before you hear them, its scary, because you dont have time to react. The sound is something you will never forget. Everyone ran for the beach, people were running into the water, you could hear a vehicle drive away....i was sure i heard that someone got hit...but I didnt see it... it was surreal, straight out of a movie, this stuff doesnt happen in real life...i thought. I managed to get back to my hostel...not far from the beach....trembling, not able to fully comprehend what had just happened, having just found out that my friend had been shot. I was joined by a number of people who where also at the bar during the shooting....none of us spoke, we all just sat there, none of us could sleep....it was really screwed up.
The next day, after having slept for a couple of hours, I learned of my friends death. He had been shot 4 times and died in the hospital. He was one of the most energetic, friendly people I have ever met in my life....it is so crazy how one moment a person can be so alive, vibrant and so present in the lives of those around him, and then next moment they only exist as a memory, it really makes me appreciate every moment in life. That night (sunday) we went to pay our respects at the funeral home. The next day was the actual funeral. It was something that I had never expected to experience in my life. It was beautiful....sad, but beautiful. It started in the funeral home with frineds and family paying their respect, sharing their stories, their memories. Then the crowd hoisted the coffin and carried it through the town, through the park to the church. The procession included all of the friends, music, alcohol, things that Makako loved. At the church, a Catholic funeral service was held....the first (and hopefully last) time in my life that I have to attend one of these services. After the service, the crowd again carried the coffin to the cemetery, where Makako was laid to rest. Everything happened so quickly.
That night I left Canoa...its not the same now. I am now in Quito. I have been here the past 4 days with a few friends from Canoa, trying to figure out where to go now. I fly to Cusco, Peru on Wednesday where I will go to see Machu Picchu, and will then work my way north from Cusco up the coast to Mancora, where I can surf and live cheaply for a while. I want to return to Canoa in a month or two, when things cool down a bit. I want to leave Ecuador on good terms.
RIP Makako, You are missed by many.