Special Day in Ecuador

Some days stand out in life.  And this is one of those days.  We were on our first “Grand” with Holland America.  The lovely Prinsendam.  We were off to Antarctica and beyond, and the voyage was filled with one amazing port after another.

 

This is why we love cruising.  This is why we love South America…

 

January 11, 2012 – Manta, Ecuador. Loved this day. Loved it! Woke up in the port (actually, to the sounds of docking!) Dropped off at a little central market where you are pounced upon like the tourists you are… and you must walk the gauntlet to get yourself out of there, hoping you choose wisely. We did!

New Panama Hats

Alex was our young, polite taxi driver who spoke very little English. Just what we wanted so we would be forced to use our Spanish. Off we headed to Montecristi – obviously in search of Panama hats. There is no escaping this experience! And he took us right to his friends’ shop, and we both fell in love with hats, and were set. G’s is classic. Mine is a little brown beauty with a horse-hair cinch. The guy from this shop was determined to sell Gary a belt, followed us and lowered the price.. and eventually he had to give in. The one he chose was too large, so the young man cut it and reworked it right there on the street.

Montecristi Church

Our driver realized we weren’t the shopping type… truly… and we ended up on a wonderful tour of the area, visiting several communities, stopping for photos when we wanted, learning what we could with our muy mal skills in Espanol. One of our early stops was to his home to get his Spanish/English dictionary. There we met his pregnant wife and his brother-in-law, and we were all mucho gusto! We went to his church… the beautiful one in Montecristi – where he was baptized. We went to hot springs in La Pila, and bought some bottled water. We went to the fishing village of Jaramijo, where it’s media economic… no rico, no pobre. But of course, to American standards, it looked quite pobre. I told him I wanted a photo of the beautiful pickled fruit in huge jars the next time we saw some.. and we turned right around, went right back, got photos, ate a beautiful bowlful of assorted mango and unknown fruits and loved that moment in time!

Pickled Mango Stop

We went to a rope factory – where they were making bags from the fibers of Agave plants. Primitive and wonderful. More fabulous photos. Somehow, lovely girls in beautiful white blouses were right out front in the street selling wonderful scarves as we drove up. As we left, they were already carrying their card tables back into an alleyway. Ah… how wonderful for Alex that he could phone ahead to his friends and let them know we were on our way. We were happy to buy. I have a wonderful new scarf that’s gorgeous with my new hat. Three dollars.

Lovely Scarves

More photos in a fruit and vegetable market. The man was happy to give us a mango each… and refused the tip. Gary laid it on the counter anyway. Photos of a marvelous shipyard with men building huge vessels, one after the other, lined up on the beach. Photos in a fish market.

Manta Market

Picture perfect South America. The kind of day that enchants us. The kind of day that many people don’t ever come close to experiencing. The best purchase of the day… the taxi ride.. and being able to pay three times more than Alex could have hoped to make when he left his house this morning. Taking photos with him, telling him the extra was for his ninas, and the one on the way, smiling and waving and calling Adios as he left us at the pier.

Manta Shipyard

Fun to discuss our days at the supper table. We had all gone in different directions, experiencing different things. Shrimp for G, Beef Stroganoff for me. Again… Dhimmis brought chocolate cake special for us! Meanwhile, we ordered carrot cake and crème brulee. After a bit of dancing – same routine there… enjoying “Audrey Hepburn” and her husband, and “Arthur Spooner” giving us tips… we make our way to the showroom. Tonight we were treated to a classic cruise ship act – Francisco Yglesia, a Paraguayan harp player. Fabulous musician, knew how to work the audience, gave us grand music, sprinkled with laughter. Had us all singing “It’s Now or Never” at the top of our lungs. We are the obvious “youngsters” on this ship. People must comment to us all the time… especially now that we’re feeling more familiar around one another. It’s fun to be part of this crowd!

Back at the room we were in for more treats tonight. We’ve been given travel bags, little wellness kits, leather journals and identification holders. Tonight we came home to find panama hats for each of us. The whole ship is outfitted!

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