After leaving the largest city visited on this trip (Lima) and most definitely the smallest city visited (Salaverry) we had another day at sea on our way to Ecuador. This gave me time to work on my Journal and to enjoy some of the ship’s activities. Julieann has become a regular at many exercise classes and a lot of dance classes. I began just watching her and then I found a few exercises that I could actually do without breaking something on my fragile, old, falling apart body, but I still enjoy my morning Bloody Mary.
Oh yeah, I must introduce you to “my little friend”. While we were taking our last look at Salaverry, Peru on the way to the ship I passed a vendor who was selling the usual Peruvian “stuff”, mainly Llama hair/fur products. I swear I heard this little creature on display calling to me as I passed. I don’t usually buy stuff at these places, but I just HAD to save this poor creature from a life of total boredom. After all, I have shelves FULL of “stuff” in our tiny Hawaiian condo from different countries we have visited around the world and nothing from Peru. So, I’d like to refer you to the attached photo to say “hello and welcome” to my new little friend, “Dolly Llama”.
Anyhow, back to my update. As I was working on the Journal I heard a group of passengers “moaning and groaning” so I had to check it out. For the very first time in our cruising adventures over the years, we were now being entertained by a very large school of dolphins. I counted at least 200, but other passengers claimed to see over a thousand spread out over miles. The Dolphins were putting on quite a show jumping around and pretending to race us (we were only doing around 19 MPH and they were doing 50). Unfortunately, I was on the fourth deck (next to the bar, of course) and my camera was in our cabin on the eighth deck so I missed the shot. Oh well.
Also today we had a “Crossing the Line” festivity. Remember the big show the ship put on when we cruised around Cape Horn? Well, now we are crossing the equator. Another big show --- folks dressed in togas (bed sheets), paraded around the pool deck and were “blessed” by King Neptune himself (with green dyed whipped cream smeared on their collective faces). Of course, Julieann could NOT miss this even though she didn’t rip the bed sheet off our bed, but she got the green smear.
For your edification: The early rituals at sea served a serious purpose and were designed to prepare novices in the crew for their new lives as sailors. Initiation ceremonies during the 1600’s could be particularly rough, but today’s ceremonies are far more about the entertainment value than hardening souls for a hard life a sea. Those who have crossed the equator are termed “Shellbacks” while the uninitiated are merely “Pollywogs”. The entire ritual is conducted by the god of the sea himself, Neptune, along with his beautiful consort.
After the jumping around, dancing and overall craziness was done, we had a light lunch followed by our afternoon ice cream and then headed back to the cabin for our afternoon Siesta (and I could get very use to this tradition).
When I got up I was immediately greeted by a passing whale right off our balcony. Only one? What’s up with that? I think he/she was lost. First time I’ve seen a whale on this trip.
So today we get to visit Manta, Ecuador.
We were pleasantly surprised to find an actual city with big name stores, wi-fi in the mall, etc. I know, I know – we’re supposed to be doing something “local” to add to our educational endeavors, BUT there wasn’t much to do. The big “excursion” being offer was a ride in a “Chiva” and this will have to do. A Chiva (Spanish for goat) or escalera (Spanish for ladder and stairs) is an artisan rustic bus used in rural Colombia and Ecuador. Chivas are adapted to rural public transport, especially considering the mountainous geography of the Andean region of these countries. The buses are varied and characterized by being painted colorfully (usually with the yellow, blue, and red colors of the flags of Ecuador and Colombia) with local arabesques and figures. Most have a ladder to the rack on the roof which is also used for carrying people, livestock and merchandise. They are built upon a bus chassis with a modified body made out either metal or wood. Seats are bench like, made out of wood and with doors instead of windows. The owner or driver usually gives the vehicle a unique nickname.
We heard that despite the high cost of the round trip to downtown in a Chiva, they are probably the most uncomfortable ride in a modern city. So we opted for a walk to the air conditioned shopping mall, with a few stops along the route for more shopping at local stores (we MUST add to/assist the local economy according to da spouse).
Two interesting points for today. I posted a photo I took in the Mall of a KFC stand. It had all the markings of a Kentucky Fried Chicken location except this KFC only sells coffee, cookies and ice cream. Like a KFC desert bar. Also posted is a photo of one of crew members who works in the Buffett Dining Room handing passengers their plates and eating utensils. As I was watching her do her job I noticed something which made me think that she has OCD (I asked her, but she didn’t know what OCD is). Anyhow, another crew member would bring a large, mixed stack of different colored plates and place them somewhere on the table in front of the girl. As soon as he left she began sorting and stacking the plates by color and she claimed that she hadn’t even noticed that she was doing this.
Now for the educational part of this posting: Manta is a mid-sized city in Manabí Province, Ecuador. It is the second most populous city in the province, the fifth most populous in the country. Manta has existed since Pre-Columbian times. It was a trading post for the Mantas. According to the 2001 census, the city had 192,322 inhabitants. Its main economic activity is tuna fishing. 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. The port was used by Charles Marie de La Condamine upon his arrival in Ecuador when leading the French mission to measure the location of the equator in 1735. From Manta, Condamine started his trip inland towards Quito.
Manta also possesses one of the most solid city economies in Ecuador. The main industries are fishing and tuna canning and processing. Processed tuna is exported to Europe and the U.S. International tuna corporations including Bumble Bee, Van Camps, British Columbia Packers, and Conservas Isabel, as well as leading national tuna processor Marbelize, have sizable factories in Manta. Other important products include vegetable oil. Large Ecuadorian corporations including La Fabril and Ales have their main factories in Manta. According to a recent survey by "Vistazo" (important Ecuadorian magazine), Manta's metropolitan area possesses many of the largest (by revenue) companies in Ecuador (following Quito and Guayaquil which have larger companies than Manta). Tourism is increasingly important for Manta's economy. Various cruise ships will make a port of call visit to Manta while traveling the southern Pacific Ocean. In addition, produced in Manabí and known throughout the world are the original and official "Panama" hats, which are made in the nearby town of Montecristi, founded in the early 17th century. With its colonial architecture, this small town is best known for its wickerwork weaving, and as the original birthplace of the Panama hats which, despite their name, were historically produced in Ecuador. Panama hats are favorite souvenirs among visitors of Manta.