If you made a different turn heading toward the coastline, you’d miss Santa Marianita entirely. Wedged between Manta and the Pacific Ocean, the small, 5,000-person Ecuadorean fishing village isn’t on the map. Visitors often show up by accident after taking a wrong turn on their way from San Lorenzo to Manta, or perhaps driven by curiosity toward the sea after visiting the nearby Pacoche wildlife reserve. Santa Marianita’s roads are paved; the sidewalks aren’t. Its few, humble thatched-roof hostels have an enviable ocean view, from whose windows you can whale-watch at the right time of the year. And its windswept beaches stretch on for wide, empty kilometers. The occasional kite surfer or digital nomad drifts in, drawn by the legendary waves or the promise of fiber-optic internet, which reached the village in 2016. But most days, it’s just fishermen hauling their catches and pelicans skimming the sea. Ecuador is not a place known for its gaming culture. Only larger cities like Guayaquil, Manta and the capital, Quito, have any substantial cyber cafe presence. And although these small, family-run establishments offer rental time on PCs and consoles, they pale in comparison to the massive, hundred-person LAN cafes and esports arenas that… Read full this story
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