Sun, Oct 8 – Manta, Ecuador - is a mid-sized city in the Manabí Pralong province of Ecuador. It is the second most populous city in the province, the fifth most populous in the country, with a population around 192,000. Its main economic activity is tuna fishing (they keep all the good fish for themselves - you won't see an Ecuadoran eating tuna - they look at it as garbage fish). Other economic activities include tourism and a chemical industry with products from cleaning supplies to oils and margarine. Manta possesses the largest seaport in Ecuador and also has an international airport, and an important military base (known as Manta Air); between 1999-2009 Manta Air Base was used by U.S. air forces to support anti-narcotics military operations and surveillance flights against Colombian drug trafficking cartels. For whatever reason the contract was not renewed. Hmm!
During Ecuador’s Pre-Colombian history, Manta was home to at least seven different civilizations. According to some records, the Maya reached Manta around 500 A.D., but found it already inhabited by other groups, so they left. Little is known about the people who lived there between the Maya’s arrival and the Inca Conquest, but it is believed that the modern city of Manta – then known as Jocay – was used by the Inca and Manta indigenous groups as a trading center. In the 1500s the spanish invaded, robbed the indigenous people of their gold, silver and other precious metals and basically turned them into slaves to extract this valuable products from the mines.
The main industry of Manta is the production of the Panama Hats. We were told that this is where the hats are made, but the reason they got the name "Panama" hats was that the President of Panama was given a hat and liked it so much, he declared it a "Panama" hat.
Today's excursion took us to a coffee plantation
As we drove along the ocean, through busy and quaint little towns, and then up into the mountains the scenery was quite luscious. The scenery is full of beautiful flowers and lush ripe fruit of all kinds. Yummy. It is spring time here and everything reflects that. Nice!
The coffee plantation we went to was very nice. We were told to just go ahead and wander through the coffee bean bushes and we did, being careful of all the roots running around. Our guide brought over the owner who told us about his coffee plantation (again, we are talking a few acres) The coffee is planted and it takes five years before the plant will start producing, and then it will produce for another 15 years.
The beans are then roasted, ground and packed. He said it now goes a lot faster than years gone by since they have a new roaster and a new shell remover. We were then offered some coffee, which was delicious. The coffee brand is Cafe Vasar, and we did bring home a package.
As in Mexico, the locals grow their own fruits and vegetables. They had a beautiful garden, tons of bananas, mangoes and other fruits. Their home was beautiful - they had a patio where we all sat after the demonstration and then above that is two more levels. We were allowed to use their bathroom and the house was airy, open and gorgeous.
We then returned to the ship and then walkedt back into town, along the beach and
On to the next Port.