Today we finished up our two days in Ecuador, where we visited the port cities of Manta (Wednesday) & Guayaquil.(Thursday). We continue to be thoroughly frustrated with the Internet service on the Prinsendam, which is expensive ($.25 per minute or more, depending on how big a plan you purchase) & hardly works at all. It is galling to sit and wait minute after minute while gmail loads, with the meter ticking away. Then it will helpfully inform you that “this is taking longer than usual” (as if we didn’t know that) and tell us to start over by reloading the page. So, if you aren’t getting timely answers to email, that is the reason, and also the reason why these blog postings may appear a day or two after they are written. So, please be patient, “this is taking longer than usual!”
I also wanted to mention that when I looked at the Panama posting on the internet it didn’t look like the draft I was working with in Windows Live Writer. As you could tell by the text, the smaller pictures were supposed to be shown 2 on each line, but at least on my computer the posting on the internet showed all of the pictures in a single row down the page. So, today I’m going to try making the smaller pictures a little less wide on the page in the hope that they will appear on the internet where they are supposed to. If the Panama posting on your computers appeared with the small photos two abreast like it is supposed to, please let me know in the comments; it wouldn’t surprise me if my internet connection here & small laptop screen were screwing up my view of it.
Manta is a city of 180,000 in the northern part of Ecuador. It is known for Panama hats, the best of which are made in a town near Manta called Montecristi. In fact, all Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador. Apparently they were originally exported from ports in Panama, from which they got the name. Or, a better story, Teddy Roosevelt got one of these hats while inspecting the construction of the Panama Canal & called it his “Panama Hat,” and the name stuck. That sort of thing happened a lot with Teddy Roosevelt, who was something of a celebrity before there were celebrities. Anyway, here is Manta & some panama hats & some flowering trees:
Of course, everyone bought Panama hats in Manta, including yours truly. All I need now is a 3 piece white suit & a cigar to complete the look.
Manta is a fishing port, with emphasis on tuna. You can tell tuna is important here, since they have erected a public statue of a tuna & a tuna fountain near the entrance to the port! I also got some pictures of a ship unloading a tuna catch next to our ship.
Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city, with 1.8 million people. I find it hard to believe I had never heard of a city that big until signing up for this trip. It is also Ecuador’s busiest port, although you have to sail several miles up a river to reach the port, which is still 30 minutes from downtown by bus. Most cruise ships can’t sail up this river; ours is one of the few small enough to do so. Mostly, Guayaquil is a big & fairly ugly city, with nondescript highrises & fairly rundown neighborhoods lacking in character. Our shuttle bus dropped us off in the center of town, at a park known as Parque Seminario (its across the street from the cathedral), & also as Parque Bolivar (it has an equestrian statue of the general), & also as Plaza de Iguanas. It must be confusing to have so many names for one place.
Its called Parque de Iguanas because (you guessed it) there are a lot of iguanas that live there. It turns out that iguanas like to climb trees, & the local hotels come out a couple of times a day to give them food (looks like lettuce), since they are a tourist attraction. Very cool, in my estimation.
The park also has a statue of fighting wild boars, which should make Texans feel at home (and Cincinnatians, although these pigs don’t fly), and across the street is the cathedral, with a statue of General Bolivar in front.
Walking along the Malecon (the riverside park) we saw the “rotunda,” a columned semicircle with a statue of Bolivar & San Martin shaking hands. They met here, but didn’t get along (they say San Martin wanted monarchies in South America while Bolivar wanted Republics), and Bolivar refused to ally with San Martin despite an offer to serve under him. San Martin soon withdrew from the fight for independence & retired to Europe. So, its hard to understand what there is to commemorate here, but they have done it anyway. There is also an attractive Moorish style (why?) clock tower & many pretty flowers & gardens. Mary had to use the “banos” here, & found to her dismay that you have to pay for toilet paper; fortunately she had some kleenex since she didn’t have any coins. Live & learn.
Tonight on the Prinsendam it was Panama Hat Night. So, I took this opportunity to introduce you to the other two couples assigned to our table at dinner. Steve & Kathy Beasley (in picture with Mary) are from Fort Worth, although they live now on the coast of Alabama. Steve is a retired firefighter. Bing Bingenheim & his partner Barbara (unmarried but together for many years) are from St. Louis, but have lived for 8 years in Tampa Florida. Bing has been a very successful gambler on this cruise. They are all nice people & we have been enjoying their company.
And finally, every night the room crew leave us a towel animal on our bed. Its pretty silly, but kind of fun since they are different every night. Here are the two best so far, to end this installment.
We have a sea day tomorrow (Friday), then four consecutive port days in Peru, so the next posting will probably not come until after that (assuming, as always, that the internet permits).