MANTA, ECUADOR: 7th AUGUST

ECUADOR, the home of the Panama hat, Rainforest, fishing, coffee beans and TARANTULAS!!!!

It’s less than two years since the area around Manta where we docked early this morning was devastated by an earthquake and there are still plenty of visual reminders that this is a city struggling to recover and any money bought in by the tourists is greatly appreciated.

The people we encountered were friendly and helpful. 

Travelling the roads from the town to Pacoche reserve we drove past many villages that again as we have voyaged around the world on this trip, reminded us of how lucky we are to have been born where we were, the housing as in many third world countries is barely more than one or two rooms and often in disrepair.

We have much to be grateful for and yet we really enjoyed visiting here and will put it on our list of places to revisit.



We were on a private tour again today and it has been one of the highlights of the trip to share these tours with so many lovely new friends and share lots of laughs with them all.

Our first stop was along the foreshore where they sell the fresh catches from the sea. Massive Tunas, swordfish and other species including lobsters and prawns. 

Cheap, cheap, cheap.

Tuna going for $45 a pound elsewhere $3 here.

You can buy your whole fish at one stall and go to the next area where they will cut it up for you. 



This is Mauro our guide explaining how the market works.



Maybe Angela is negotiating her cut and price! Lol.


Along side the fish market they were building and repairing the local fishing boats. 

These are all built by hand using only the most basic of tools, handsaws and hammers. Each boat is usually a collective ownership of around five or six families.

These bigger fishing boats usually pull behind them two or so smaller boats.


What a great visit we had to this reserve. Trekking through the rainforest while it was lightly raining and misty gave it a tremendous atmosphere and we encountered cocoa beans, papaya, avocado, orange trees, wild coriander ( cilantro) we heard growling monkeys, birds and saw a tarantula in its hole. Unfortunately I didn’t get to photograph him in time but I wasn’t that keen to get that close to be honest. 

But the photo below is of his hole and if you enlarge it you should see two of his legs. 

Above is the local reserve guide showing us the plant they use to make the Panama hats with.


Cocoa beans above. 

This tree is what is called the ivory tree and they used the pods for want of a better word to make buttons in the days gone by but now tend to make little decorative pieces for the tourists. 
Next we visited the National train museum and memorial of General Jose Delgado. I admit I’m going to have to google and read more of his story as I was so busy taking photos and being impressed with the room the memorial was in that I didn’t hear all what Mauro was telling us about his good life.
Then it was down the hill to Montecristo the town famous for the weavers of the Panama hat. Neither James and I had considered buying one but to find out we could fold them and wash them and should last a lifetime, then finding one each that we liked we happily handed over our money for the chance to own a piece of handcrafted millinery as a wearable souvenir. 

They come in these light weight balsa wood boxes. Hecho a Mano reads made by hand in Spanish.

Each hat by a master weaver can take up to five months to weave for the best quality ones. 




This incredible statue stands on the roundabout heading into Montecristo.

I always like to try and get a photo of our ship in port and here she is surrounded by fishing boats in Manta harbour.
Considering we passed the equator in the early hours of the morning and docking at five am we expected it to be much warmer here than it was.

It really only rained when we were in the rain forest though. 


 Above and below is the market place in Montecristo, though we bought our hats in a shop recommended by our guide ( probably his families) 


Tomorrow is a day at sea and then it’s Lima, Peru, where we farewell just over 200 guests including Paul and Michelle as they go off on their two night experience of Machu Pichu. 

We have our special dinner booked for Central restaurant there, voted fourth best restaurant in the world, an 11 course tastings with wines to look forward to.

This morning some guests left for a five night Galapagos island experience.

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