After two days at sea after Lima, we arrived in Manta, Ecuador, The Tuna Capital of The World. We were immediately greeted by tuna, as we docked.
|Unloading a tuna boat at the port in Manta|
We booked a tour of Manta and surrounding areas with several other folks from our CruiseCritic group, and headed out. Our first stop was a boat yard where tuna (and other) boats were being built and refurbished. Not exactly the Newport News Shipyards, but quaint, nevertheless.
|Manta Boat Yard|
Next to the boatyard was the fish market, which was emptying out when we got there at about 10:00 AM. Some serious hunks of tuna.
|Manta Fish Market|
From there, we drove through Manta to see the sights, such as they were. The highlight was the Tuna Monument in the center of town, which consisted of a Tuna suspended over a can, complete with UPC code.
|The Great Tuna of Manta|
After we had calmed down from the excitement of central Manta, we headed about 30 miles out of town to the Pacoche Rain Forest.
|On the outskirts of Manta|
|Fruit delivery near the rain forest|
At the rain forest we went on a 45-minute hike. Despite the fact that we were very close to the equator (as one is wont to be when in Ecuador), it was not oppressively hot. It was, however, more than humid enough to make up for the heat.
|Fruit of unknown variety in the rain forest.|
|Bird of Paradise (I think) in the rain forest|
|Intrepid hikers in the rain forest|
|Another unidentified fruit--this one grows at the bottom of the trunk|
|Negotiating a bridge in the forest|
Fortunately, our hike was one way, all downhill, and we were met by our van at the end of our trek. We saw a few birds, and what we think might have been a monkey. The sweat to animal-sighting ratio was very high.
We then drove back to Manta for lunch.
|Housing on the outskirts of Manta|
|The wealthy part of Manta|
|Another shot of the Great Tuna of Manta|
After lunch, we headed to Montecristi, about 12 miles of Manta. Montecristi reportedly has some good examples of colonial architecture, and is the Panama Hat Capital of the world. Yes, I said Panama Hat--it turns out that Panama hats are really from Ecuador, and only got their name because Teddy Roosevelt wore one when he visited the Panama Canal.
|Heading out of Manta|
|Lots of political signs in Montecristi and Manta|
Although Montecristi alleges to have a lot of colonial architecture, we didn't see any of it on the route we took to the hat factory and museum. In fact, the Hostal Metropolitana, below, pretty much represents the town.
|Where the elite meet in Montecristi|
|More non-colonial architecture in Montecristi|
Eventually we arrived at the museum and hat factory, which is on a hill overlooking Montecristi. The museum appears to be dedicated to a resident of Montecristi who became president of Ecuador in the early 1900's. It's a pretty impressive museum for someone I never heard of.
|Entrance to the museum|
|Inside the museum|
|View of Montecristi from the hill|
Next to the museum were several hat shops and an exhibition of women making Panama hats. Yes, I bought a hat.
|Making a Panama Hat|
|World's Largest Panama Hat, in front of the hat shops|
We then returned to Manta, and to the ship, getting another glimpse of Montecristi on the way.
|Another view of Montecristi|
|A view of Manta from the sea|
Next: Through the Panama Canal