Manta, Ecuador, Day 39, March 10, 2009

              We had a 4 hour tour planned today and Dennis and Becky were on it.  We were about 10 to 15 minutes on the road and the driver discovered there was something wrong with a tire.  It was a shame to leave this bus.  The seats moved a little into the aisle to give you a little more room, there were hooks and net storage areas.  The replacement bus was old, but I liked the driver better.

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     Manta has a lot of tuna fish industry.   The net is full of tuna.

     We went to El Aromo and stopped at a small local house where we saw the process of the “Paja Toquilla” rw material, used to make the famou Panama hats.  They also crocheted it into bath mitts, back scrubbers and bags.

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     We then went to Montecristi, a picturesque village which, since colonial times, hs ben a handicraft center.  It is also the birthplace of the Panama hat which is still produced in small family-run home industries.  You could see the difference in the different grades of hats.

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This is how the hats are made.  Many women end up bent out of shape from making hats.  She is making one of the expensive hats and has been working on it a month.

     We then went to the Ivory Nut Factory where they make buttons.  It is vegetable Ivory.  The unique tropical palm takes 24 years to reach maturity grows deep in the rain forest under the sun of Ecuador and has not been spoiled due to its nature of delayed maturity  When tender the fruit is called ‘mococh’ and stores inside a milky substance which tastes like coconut, able to quench the thirst of the farmers of the area and make them strong for their long daily journeys.  When ripe, the “Tagua” becomes solid like ivory and can be worked with special tools to be converted in beautiful figurines and buttons.

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       We stopped by the beach to watch men hand making wooden boats.

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     Back on the Splendor we had lunch with Becky and Dennis and then played a card game of golf.  We were to sail at 8 pm so I went on deck to watch.  WOW, we left 2 min. early!  There was a beautiful full moon.  We were to cross the equator tonight and they had another ceremony planned for 11:30 pm.  We didn’t make it.  We’re still coughing, but feeling better.

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