Tuesday 13th February
Manta is the second largest port in Ecuador and is situated in the bay of Manta. The Republica del Ecuador is slightly larger than New Zealand and twice the size of England. The U.S dollar became the legal currency in September 2000. Ecuador is bordered in the north by Colombia and by Peru in the east and south. The so-called Panama hat actually originated in Ecuador and not in the Central American state as the name would suggest, more of that later!
We had booked another P&O tour today, so it was with high hopes that we set off to our meeting place at the Curzon theatre to see what coach we were on.
Our first stop was around the corner from the ship to where they made the tuna boats.We were both amazed at the fact that they used bamboo as scaffolding.
A little further along from the boatyard was the fish market (and good cod we have seen a few of those this trip!)
The pelicans were certainly enjoying the attention from all the tourists vying for their attention and the perfect photo opportunity .
Whilst we were there the local mobile shop turned up, sadly everyone was well shod and not in need of any flip flops.
And as it was early in the morning the ice cream man didn’t do any business either!
Our main destination on this trip was the Pacoche Forest Nature Reserve for a trek to see the howler monkeys and the flora and fauna. Before the trek we were treated to a couple of exhibitions. The first was on how to make a Panama hat.
I didn’t realise how long they took to make. The top of the range ones can take up to six months to make, these feel so smooth and light but will cost you anywhere up to $1000.
Whilst we were there a hat was put through the finishing touches
And then modelled by a willing volunteer!
As a person known for his sartorial taste and elegance I thought I should purchase one of these hats to enhance my already smart appearance. I think I succeeded don’t you? So that was $40 well spent.
Next on the agenda was to see sugar being extracted from the sugar cane. Maria the donkey worked the press and in a short amount of time we were able to taste the juice. Very nice and unsurprisingly sweet. This is then boiled down to make molasses, which again was nice to taste.
So then, so far so good. We set off on our trek to see the wildlife. P&O had organised about four coaches to this park, so there were about 160 people wandering around. There was a sign saying quiet please so as not to disturb the animals. This didn’t, and couldn’t, happen with so many people altogether at one time in one spot. So we didn’t get to see anything. These things happen I suppose…………….
But the real problems began when we were led to the pathway down into the jungle…..
The paths were as you would expect in a jungle – just mud. The problem was that with this amount of people descending these slopes it soon became treacherous…………
With at times only a thin rope to hold on to it became more and more difficult, so much so that it wasn’t uncommon to see mud stained knees and bottoms! It was difficult for me and nearly impossible for the 80 year olds with their sticks! (they were given fair warning that it would be hard going, however they had paid and weren’t going to give up!)
It wasn’t all that bad, however, and on the few occasions that we had some flat ground I was able to take a few photos of the flora.
Hooray, we survived………with very muddy shoes!
Francesca, one of the ship’s official photographers, wasn’t best pleased with the day as her party had to turn back as it got too dangerous, and she didn’t get her photos!
On our way back to the coach this pair emerged from the undergrowth dressed in camouflage gear, giving an unusual salute………
They denied have been to any unauthorised meetings, but I didn’t like the way they marched off!