From the beach in Manta I grabbed a cab (15 km – $5) to Montecristi. Montecristi produces the worlds finest straw hats, generally known as Panama Hats but the best are made in Ecuador. Some of the “superfino” hats can take 2 – 6 months to make and can cost $400 – $600 here in Ecuador and 3 – 4 times that much in the USA and Canada. Of course you can also buy them for $10. When I arrived the Saturday market and festival was going on and can best be described by my pictures (when posted). I can honestly say that I have never seen streets so full of colours, people and things to buy – “unbelievable”. I went to a number of “Hat Shops” and found a “Panama Hat” that I really liked but it was too big, probably a good thing as it was $450 (before dealing of course). Ended up with no hat but will continue to look in Cuenca where many of the hats from here are sent to sell.
I had considered staying in Manta for the night but after a long day of hiking and travel was tired. I was however not looking forward to the five plus hours of bus travel back to Canoa so decided instead to get a taxi. Forty dollars and one and one half hours later I was back at the Sundown Inn, well worth the extra money and as a bonus we travelled a different route so saw a number of additional towns and villages.
Tomorrow is Sunday and I have planned a beach day and to wait and hear who wins the Greycup (Duane – $5 on Toronto for me – bet?).