Sunday, March 5, 2023

February 7, 2023 – Manta, Ecuador – Sunny – 85F

Happy Birthday, Ellen.  

I had arranged for Housekeeping - via Kellen in Guest Services - to decorate the room but they didn’t (even after a follow-up with Kellen a day before) – just a coupon for a discount on champagne (isn’t champagne free on the ship).  Not what I would have expected from a class ship like Azamara Onward.  Even Princess put a balloon and a birthday card on the door for a previous birthday.  

We are in the "Tuna Capital of the World" today, Manta, Ecuador (population around 220,000).  

Here, hundreds of fish are hoisted from the tuna boats in nets and dropped into what look like dump trucks - I am sure the fish were iced before and are heading for a refrigerated facility nearby.  At least, I hope so.

We ordered room service because out tour meets at 8:15 AM.  Pancakes and eggs and oatmeal for me and French Toast and eggs for the Birthday Girl. Again, the food came right on time and was hot - room service on this ship works very well.  

We arrived at the Cabaret Lounge at the designated time and got our stickers. In a deja vu moment, we are taking the same tour that we took years ago on our last visit to Manta – “Manta and Motencristi”.  The one we took earlier also stopped at a factory making ivory from plant seeds – today we are just going to those two towns.

We left on time and stopped first at the same museum we did the last time we visited, "Museo Centro Cultural Manta",

and it was just as hot as it was back then. We spent a few minutes on the ground floor talking about a painting of indigenous peoples.

Our guide said we would all be going to the sixth floor to see the exhibits.  There was an elevator but it could only take four people at a time so that would be ten trips.  I am not a big historical museum person so I opted not to climb the six flights of stairs – instead I stayed in the lobby, where I was watched carefully by museum police and also entertained by a string quartet of young girls, I believe.  There was a washroom there and a comfortable couch so, except for the warm temperature of the room, I was OK. The troop stayed upstairs for about an hour - I have no idea how they managed that.  Ellen took some nice photos of Manta from the top floor of the museum including one on Azamara Onward docked.

I was in the bus (and back in the AC) before Ellen, who was still in front of the museum.

From the Museum, we drove through Manta to see a giant statue of a bluefin tuna (of course),

a monument to the "weavers" of the city, 

and the oldest coffee factory in Ecuador.

I took the bus about 30 minutes to reach the mountain town of Montecristi (population around 70,000).  The town is name for an early settler named "Criste", who built a house on top of the mountain overlooking the town.  The town is also famous for the being the birthplace of Ecuadorian President, Eloy Alfaro, who is highly visible in the town square. 

Our stop in the town took us to a hotel or residence to watch several women (one was 69)

who spend hours each day weaving the tiny plant strands into Panama Hats.  

The demo seemed endless due to the heat and no place to sit.  The residents eyed us with great curiosity.  Some people may have purchased hats, 

but they are available all over the town and the prices range from $5 to $5,000. 

After the demo we had about an hour to shop, which was much too long.  We were able to get some good pictures of the Minor Basilica of the Virgin of Monserrat 

and the Former President of Ecuador.  I had those same pictures from our previous tour.

We walked back up the hill to the bus meeting place and soon we were on our way back to the pier.  On the way, I did get some nice pictures of the Pacific Ocean, the beach at Manta, and Azamara Onward in the distance.

Interestingly enough, while the bus could take us directly from the ship to the dock entrance, it couldn't do the reverse. The bus dropped us at the Cruise Terminal

where we had to wait for a shuttle to take us to the ship.

We had lunch in the Windows Café (tuna sandwich and Cesar Salad) and then went to the room as my sneezing was a distraction to everyone around me.  I am still on Augmentin. 

We cancelled our dinner with the David and Pat because I didn’t want to sniffle all night long. Instead, we ordered pizza and Cesar Salads from Room Service – the pizza was passable but warm.  Not a great dinner.  

I got pictures of the sail away 

through the porthole.

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