Today is our only visit to Ecuador so we made the effort to get away fairly early. Again this town is a lively commercial port with a lot of development taking place, but the their main industry here is “Tuna”, Manta is known as the Tuna capital of the world. To demonstrate this, we were moored onthe same dock as 4 fishing boats, which were unloading their catch when we left the Q V. These fishing boats were unique as they each had a small helicopter on board used to find the shoals of Tuna; no doubt this accounts for them landing so much fish.
When we disembarked we were ushered onto shuttles that took us to 2-stops in town, the first being the obligatory shoppingmall and the second being a small arts and crafts market, but more importantly it’s near a garage that has powerful free Wi Fi available; naturally we elected to take the second stop. Our minutes have run out aboard and Christine has many pictures to load, hence our need.
Manta, not only being the Tuna Capital of the world, it is also the second largest port in Ecuador, exporting agricultural products and Panama hats, it also has a US military base. Here the US operate surveillance AWACS in an attempt to subdue the cocaine producing areas of South America. Manta is also one of the gateways for tourists visiting Quito, Ecuador’s Capital, and the Andes.
The original Spanish settlement was founded around 1526 and within 10 years, the whole of Ecuador was under Spanish control and the Inca’s rule was over. Though we know about the periodpost the Spanish, the area around Manta was almost certainly inhabited some 5,000 years ago, according to archaeological folk, long before the Incas.
We left the arts and crafts market and headed out to the garage, “On The Run”, (where have we seen that before) for our free Wi Fi but en-route we wandered around the sellers and were seduced by the Panama hat stall, mainly because there was a lady actually making one. After trying on several webought “his and hers”, these are genuine Panama hats that fold up so lets hope we get a lot of wear out of them.
Internet requirement fulfilled we headed back to the market to catch the shuttle back to the ship for lunch, I don’t think we have eaten our ration so far today!!
The shuttle dropped us off next to the gangway and we noted those same fishing boats were still unloading their catch.
After lunch we headed back to town, this time to the Mall for a last minute use of free Wi Fi and a fridge magnet; I also visited the Opticians, again. I have visited every optician from Rio to Manta, trying to get new pads for my glasses but to no avail. I lost the pads on our first cruise but obviously these German frames are not sold in South America; oh well I am sure I’ll get then in Campo Verde!!!
So not only did I get my glasses’ pads, Christine couldn’t find a suitable magnet and to finally put the icing on the cake, the free Wi Fi didn’t work. Oh well back to the ship.
Though this country is famous for the Inca Empire, the reality is that the Inca Empire rule over Ecuador, was short lived, and in many parts lasted for less than 50-years in the late 15th and early 16th century. Back in the day, this coastal region had few attractions; there weren’t many local Indians that could be used as slave labour, and the region was un-healthy due to nasty diseases. However, the region expanded and then the pirates arrived and between 1607 and 1628, and attacking and pillaging.
Ecuador finally became independent from Spain in 1822 after Antonio José de Sucre with his band of rebels defeated the Spanish army at the battle of Pichincha, near Quito.
18-miles South East of Manta is the small town of Montecristi, founded by the Spanish in 1628 it is, and has been, the place where the finest Panama Hats are made. One can pay anything up to $2,000 for a handmade one, as apparently it takes up to 8 months to make. The main way to ensure you have a real Panama hat is firstly it is woven very thin, and secondly it should roll up, and when unrolled, go back to its original shape.
After our disappointing trip to the Mall we went back to the Q V, licking our wounds.
As one goes around all these ex-Spanish colonies and reads about the history, the conclusions one draws is what a murderous bunch many of them were. For example, the Liberal president of Ecuador, Elay Alfaro, President from 1897 to 1901 then 1906 to 1911 made many enemies and was locked up in 1912 when a mob broke into the prison he was being held, and murdered him. His tomb is in the town hall and he has a statute in the main Plaza; little comfort!!!
Tonight’s act were a couple of Scottish lads, the MacDonald Brothers, singers and musicians who first arrived on the wider entertainment scene after appearing on the X Factor and they were very good.
Late tonight or in the wee hours we cross the equator back into the northern hemisphere, so no shenanigans this time. Tomorrow we have another day at sea.
Today we woke in the northern hemisphere but to be fair nothing felt different as we continued up the west coast of South America. We passed the Galapagos to the west but didn’t see them, we carried on passing Colombia to our east and didn’t see anything there either, but I have every confidence the Commodore knows where he is going.
As mentioned before, nothing really happens on sea days other than sun, swim, Jacuzzi, eat and the show in the evening.
Tonight’s entertainment was billed as a musical sensation, “Claire Gobin’, she is a violinist who played Beatles to Classical and everything in-between; she was good.
Tomorrow we transit the Panama Canal, again!!!