On the northern coast of Ecuador parallel to the Pacific Ocean lies Playa Africa, Esmeraldas Province. It is an interesting combination of the archaeological past of this small country and a tropical paradise of coconut, plantain, grapefruit, lemon, avocado, almond and mango trees, sugar cane, wild herbs and more.
The archaeology referred to is the discovery of over 5,000 items of historical and geological importance by a lifetime resident of Playa Africa, Arquimedes Simisterra. Most of his collection dates to the Tolita period of Ecuador’s history (500BC) and a small amount of treasure from other periods as people bring their finds to him. The Museum San Rafael, includes over 5,000 pieces of archeology, ceramics, cups, bowls, vases, graters, grinders, tools, weapons and figurines. The location is somewhat isolated, at the end of a 5 kilometer dirt road. Word of the museum has spread not only in the closest town but throughout the province and all of Ecuador. The museum, free to all, receives no assistance from the Ecuadorian government and subsists on small donations alone.
The adjourning 5 hectares (12.5 acres), with it’s fruit trees, wide beaches and tranquil natural beauty is prime property for ecologically responsible development. Fundación Playa Africa was created in 2013 for this purpose, to promote rural eco-tourism that will provide support for the grassroots museum. Techo Azul (blue roof) is the enterprise through which tourism will be realized, it is the name given to the grounds, buildings and supporting infrastructure, the “tourist site".