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We landed in Manta Ecuador a little bit later than expected.
It was warm, but not hot, and so remarkably dusty.
I am sure it does not rain there often.
We hadn’t done much (if any) research on the area, so we basically got off the boat and threw ourselves in a cab.
The driver spoke exactly zero English, which is about as much Spanish as we all speak. So there was a lot of pointing and charades playing, which didn’t actually pay off.
We wanted to head up to Quito, but it would have been an 8 hour drive on terrifying sheer cliffed roads.
Sooo… we went to Monti Christi to buy panama hats instead.
There was a shuttle that ran from the boat to a mall, and then on to a private make-shift Indian market set up just for us. The market was strange and awful. But I managed to buy my Kiwi Nephew A-man a cute little llama wool jumper! Absolutely gorgeous. I’ll try and upload a picture, but I don’t fancy my chances of success.
We boarded the boat and drove past KFC and numerous other American fast food chains. And we landed in a strip mall where there was a line easily over 100 people long waiting for the bank to open. The whole thing had quite strange feel to it.
The currency they use is American Dollars, so that was easy! We got out some cash and away we went to buy stocking stuffers from the toy store. Then we jumped in a cab and headed off to Monti Christi. We went to the top of a hill where there was a museum and a mausoleum and a bunch of kiosks selling Panama hats.
Then we filed back into the cab, and I had to grab some sun screen and wanted to grab some motion sickness pills as well, so I managed to ask the cabbie to get us to a Pharmacia. After that, I thought we would go to the Indian market.
That’s when the fun began.
There’s quite a lot of crime and an unbelievable pick-pocketing epidemic in Manta. So the market was set up in what appeared to be a fenced in high security canning factory or something like that. There were tall fences with barbed wire, and security guards at a large metal fence. The location was obviously secret, and therefore when we attempted to get there in the cab HE HAD NO IDEA where it was.
So when I asked to go shopping he first brought us to another big mall, and we said no no no. Not made in china, made in Ecuador, so he took us to the local markets. It. Was. Terrifying!
After what felt like an eternity of being pushed around by busy locals in the crowded streets, we managed to flag down a cab, and they wouldn’t take us. So we flagged down another cab and he did take us. Again he spoke no English, so we said: Boat! Boat! Hoonk hooooonk BIG SHIP! Take us please please please. He laughed and took us. And he got a very very big tip.
I carried on back to the mall again and then onto the real Indian market they set up for us cruisers.
In summary, Ecuador is dusty, dirty, and a bit scary. But junk is cheap.
I wouldn’t make a special trip. But I am glad we went. One day we would LOVE to visit the Galapagos Islands, as many passengers did.