Friday, June 27, 2014

Manta waterfront

Thursday we caught the bus bright and early at 7am to ride into Manta and meet with Fernando for pick up of our official Visa. The bus was almost empty, since we were getting on at the start of the route, we picked a seat in the back, and got to watch everything. Thru Crucita, past Cruz Verde (Jaimes fruit stand) into Rocafuerte, where many people got on, loading boxes and bags of goods in the luggage compartment underneath to take into Manta to sell. Then again past Cruz Verde and into Manta, there's not much between, except Ceibo trees and some cactus, but you know you're getting close when you start to smell the tuna canneries, and see the warehouses.

Manta is Ecuadors largest seaport, it's number one export is tuna, exporting to US (BumbleBee) and the UK, and second is vegetable oil. They are well known for diving, sport fishing, windsurfing and said to have some of the best beaches in South America. Manta's sister city is ironically Long Beach, California (Paige's hometown). In September they have quite a large International Film Festival, some say rival Cannes. Fernando was hired by Discovery Channel to help with logistics when they were there filming a show on Extreme fishing last year.

After the Immigration office, which was pretty quick and easy, ($250 plus $4 and some photo copies, we have our official 6 month Visa "sticker" in our passports, and one step closer to residency)

Fernando took us on a tour of the waterfront. I took pictures and Mike shot video, so this is very well documented, as it should be...because it was AWESOME! 

The boats that catch these big fish (shark, marlin,swordfish) stay out three days, 

It looks like they do the gutting out in the water, so it's pretty much all meat when they bring them ashore. Guys were wearing rain jackets and just had these monsters slung over their shoulder bringing them from the boat, others had gurneys they used to bring them ashore.Then someone would start hacking them into 2 foot chunks, and load them onto a truck, probably for restaurants. We then walked over to the fish market, these huts are where the cleaners work, the get the smaller fish from the boat, scale and gut before sending to the market.

This market is open everyday from 6-12 noon. They had everything, some were already fillets, cubed, steaks, strips, or whole. 

It's crab season, and this monster he was selling for $10! There were shrimp, of all sizes, cleaned, uncleaned, pre-cooked even, you name it.

Hopefully some of these images are on Mikes video, because they are pretty dark. We weren't prepared to buy anything and take home on the bus, we would have brought our insulated tote bag, next time. ( or find one closer to home) Fernando suggested breakfast, fish soup that is huge with the locals, we had heard of it, and hadn't had anything we didn't like so far, so we were game. 

For $1 we got a big enough bowl the three of us shared! I was too busy eating to get a picture, maybe it's on was excellent! Definatly something we will have again, tasty broth, cilantro, yucca, onions and big chunks of fresh tuna, YUM!  From here, we left the fish market and went to see the boat yard.

Here's one they are repairing/rebuilding, the only power tool they use is a chainsaw. You can see the worker on the bamboo scaffolding,(right in the middle of picture) using the chainsaw to cut out the bad wood.

Bamboo scaffolding again being used. These were some massive boats. Next is kinda "before and after". I tried to ask Fernando about the different shapes, and he said they were just different models, but I'm guessing their usage is different too.

Close up of the rutter of one of these big boys (or are boats always girls?) 

These next pictures are of a boat getting fiberglass. The "frame" is wood, with plywood, then fiberglass sheets on top. 

The tarps on the side are to keep sawdust (from the other boats being worked on) from getting stuck in the fiberglass, it smelled like a nail salon, so I knew what they were doing, even before I saw the workers. I don't know much about boats, but I'm pretty sure some of these would be considered garbage in the States. These are truly craftsmen, they call them Maestros, and for good reason! It was an amazing day, and it was only 11am!

We bid farewell to Fernando and Manta, and boarded the bus back to Crucita, napped a little on the way, and arrived refreshed and ready to go. We realized as we got off the bus that the road was closed again, we had heard of a Peter and Paul festival that was getting ready to start, but couldn't be sure that this wasn't still part of the PortoViejo province party. We relaxed at home a while then got on our bathing suits and headed to the beach.

The water was rough but we both got in for a while. Sat on the sand, and enjoyed the wonderful day we were being blessed with. Decided we were hungry and thought we'd go to Yolita's for al muerzo again, if she was still serving. It was about 2pm and we can't always be sure who takes siesta, but we found her watching wrestling, and happy to serve us. Today's soup was chicken and rice, and we added hot sauce, which made it almost too much, yikes ! The main course turned out to be octopus fried rice, it was very tasty, we figured it was seafood, and by the texture of the "meat" concluded it was pulpo, which she corrected me, as calamar. I deduced that the "animal" is pulpo, but the "food" is calamar. We missed not having the wonderful pan fried fish, but always excited to try something new.

Home for an outdoor shower and siesta, then after sunset we'd walk down to see the festivities. Two tents were set up, they both had bandstands, and a fancy dinner set up. It turned out this was the beginning of the Peter and Paul festival, the "founding" families, or the most prominent in town throw a huge party, and are recognized for their service and contributions, as well as them showing appreciation of the "workers" or the little guys, It'll go on all week. We walked as they finished dinner, and paraded (with band) down to meet the other tent of people, then parade into the church for a short service. We wondered down to the beach, then back home. Tried to stay awake, but couldn't make ourselves go back down for the party, but they partied til about 2am. Today we will have some hammock time, then go down to see what's going on after we hear some music, and if there's music, we will hear it! The bandstand is about 1 and half blocks away. Life is noisy and fun in Ecuador! Stay tuned...the adventure continues

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