Day 8 of 68 — Manta, Ecuador

January 15, 2018 Paul Groves

Two days after exiting the Panama Canal, we arrived in Ecuador at the city of Manta.

Manta is the largest seaport in Ecuador. It’s main industries are fishing (primarily tuna) an tuna canning. It was fun to watch the ships next to us unloading the tuna. A lot of this tuna is shipped to the U.S. market. I never realized just how big they are! Our ship bought two of them. Guess what was on the menu that night!

We left the ship for the day on tour where we visited the local cultural museum. It was small but well done. They had a replica of a typical mountain hut and scenes of coastal living.

We left the museum to visit an Agave fiber factory. Agave is the plant used to make tequila. The main body of the plant is used to make the tequila while the leaves are used to make Agave fiber. The leaves are scraped to remove the fleshy pulp leaving behind the Agave fiber. The fiber is dried and then combed to make it pliable. The fiber is then spun into a coarse thread which is used to make Agave fiber products.

One of my favorite stops was where they use the Tagua nut to make buttons. Tagua is also known as vegetable ivory and was a well-kept secret by British shirt makers. The various stages from the nut to the button were shown. Carvers can make all sorts of interesting items as well.

Our final stop was at the Panama hat exhibition. Contrary to their name, Panama hats are actually made in Ecuador. They got the name because of the workers on the Panama Canal bought a lot of the hats and when they returned home when people asked where they could buy one they told them “Panama”. So the name stuck.