My birthday. Last year I celebrated with Javon in the Philippines, this year with friends in Ecuador. Manta isn’t a particularly inspiring place and our excursion today wasn’t either!
Today was the final day of a four day weekend in Ecuador and so Manta was busy with locals hitting the beach and such. We started by visiting the local museum, which had a strange mural depicting life in the area before the Spanish came. There were some paintings and a few relics, but not much else really.
Then we drove to Montecristi, the home of the Toquifina or Panama hat. On the way we passed a large statue on a roundabout of a woman making one. Our first stop in Montecristi was at a park and lookout by the mausoleum of General Jose Eloy Alfaro Delgado, a liberal politician, who introduced education for women and other things to Ecuador. He was murdered by a mob that broke into the jail where he was being held. This was in 1912.
Then we went to a place where they showed us how to make Toquifina hats and tried to sell us some. Off into a local market and also Montecristi Cathedral. Once again plain inside, with a single painting on the ceiling and weird glass fronted confessionals. Finally in Montecristi, we visited a place where they made things from the Tagua nut. A tagua nut is hard, looks like ivory and is made into things like buttons and ornaments.
Our last stop before returning to the ship was by the beach on the outskirts of Manta. There they were building three large boats. I think they were probably fishing boats. Neither town was particularly inspiring and it was a hot and sweaty experience. To add insult to injury there was no Wi-Fi to be had anywhere so no uploads until Cartagena.
At dinner, balloons suddenly appeared above my head and at the end of the meal a bunch of waiters arrived to sing Happy Birthday. ‘Right, that’s over’ thought I. However, in the 9:30 Champion’s Quiz (Bestsellers and 17/20, since you ask) it happened again. In the Syndicate Quiz, just before we started, it happened for a third time! Unfortunately, it didn’t help. Despite all six of us attending, we scored 14/20. The winners scored 15. We would have won the tie-break, though.
We recrossed the equator back into the northern hemisphere during the evening.