Sunday, March 26
Ecuador is the World capital for Tuna fishing. The tuna is shipped primarily to Japan and also the USA. When we pulled into port early this morning we were surrounded by fishing boats. The tuna fishing boats are large and the fisherman are very professionally dressed. It was amazing watching one truck after another leaving the port filled with Tuna.
Manta, Ecuador is attracting many retirees from Canada and the USA. It recently won an award for one of the best places to retire in South America.
Tourism is just starting here. There is one 5 star hotel and recently there has been foreign investment in a golf community development. Many of the foreign owned homes are in gated communities.
There was a major earthquake here last April 16th and it is shocking to see how many buildings are now inhabitable. I’m sure the government is working on solving this problem but I imagine these buildings will need to knocked down and the big question is, who is going to pay the bill.
The coast is filled with wide beaches. The one closest to the cruise dock was packed early in the morning with locals enjoying a beautiful Sunday.
Whale watching brings in the tourists during June and July.
There is a Cloud Forest 30 minutes away with holler monkeys – reminded me of my recent journey to Costa Rica where we stayed in casitas in a cloud forest.
The biggest exports are bananas (the green gold), Cacau, Petroleum, Seafood, Shrimp and Roses.
The biggest event of the year is New Years Eve when everyone dresses in their finest. Fireworks light the dark sky and people burn figures of ex-spouses etc – this is mean’t to be humorous.
The main religion is Catholic but our guide said that most people are Catholic, “only on Sundays”. Everyone chuckled.
Whiskey is the locals drink of choice but it is reserved for special parties. For tourists Chocolate liquors is popular.
Like all of the South American countries we have visited on this cruise, this one is also very clean.
Due to currency issues in 1999, Ecuador introduced the American Dollar as their currency which wasn’t ideal for the locals but their economy is much more stable because of it.
Our tour took us to Montecristi, the town made famous as the birthplace of the Panama Hat. These traditionally brimmed straw hats, known as toquillas were produced here as early as the 1700’s. It can take anywhere from 4-6 months to make one of the better quality ones. The labor intensive process to make one was shown to us. Ladies lean over in an awkward position in order to weave the hats, its a back-breaking job.
The quality of the weaving determines the cost of the hat. You can buy them starting at $20.00 but a tight weave that lets no light in starts at $200.00 plus. I ended up buying one at a good discount with help from one of the tour guides. The young male vendor’s, Grandmother was the one that weaved it. This is definitely a dying craft as its so much work for little pay – so the younger generation is not interested.
The craftsman also turn a large tree seed into carvings – they call this vegetable ivory – for a couple of dollars you can purchase a nice carving as a souvenir.
Like in much of the World, the family unit is very important so generations live together in one home – they often add a second story on their original home to accommodate newly married family members. You usually need to work at least 15 years before qualifying for a mortgage so young people don’t own homes.
Our guide told us that “face beauty” is a priority here so the town is filled with beauty parlors. She said even those that are disadvantaged find funds for their appearance.
Coffee is sold here but our guide said its not well known because of limited Marketing but their current government has started to put funds into such initiatives. An election is being held next month – our guide said they are told to be neutral when hosting a tour so she didn’t share her political views.
A typical meal is soup followed by rice with meat – in a local restaurant you will pay $3. for this meal. Ceviche is also very popular but it’s a unique version served in a bowl, sometimes in a tomato sauce or marinated with beer.
Our group enjoyed dinner in the Tuscan Grille Speciality Restaurant on board the Infinity. We were well looked after by server, Eddie and sat at a massive dining table. Everyone enjoyed the evening. This Italian/Steak house cuisine is excellent.
At 10:30pm we passed the Equator and there was a party on open air decks to celebrate – the traditional “kiss the fish” event was a highlight.
Monday March 27
Its a day at sea.
This evening we all gather at QSINE, my favourite Speciality restaurant on board for a special Bradley Walters Journeys evening.
Tomorrow we’ll transit the Panama Canal – can’t wait!
Tuns Japan usa
Best place to retire
Whale watching June-July
Coast beautiful beaches
Cloud Forest 30 min away holler monkeys
Import cars technology
Export fruit banana the green gold, Cacau and petro roses seafood shrimp
New Years party lots of fireworks dressed up burn paper mache
12 beaches close
Catholics on Sunday
Like whiskey – served special parties
16th April earthquake
Sable tree – cotton
Us 1999 dollar
SpAin and Italy
Family live together
Parents first floor younger people work
Not enough credit for homes
Lots of beauty parlor
Face culture call it
Moist material from Cloud Forest – hat
Light through it
100-200 tightly weaved
Coffee but not well marketed
Make coffee bags
Soup and rice with meat 3.
15-20 yrs can get loan