Well, my last few hours in Canoa was spent lazing around the Sundown Inn and saying good bye to staff and other guests that I had met. At around noon, David Day an American expat who has lived in Ecuador since 2008 picked me up and it was off to Manta with a few stops on the way. David has a tour business, knows the area and is fluent in Spanish so instead of just getting a taxi to the airport at Manta I got some great information and saw some neat places that I otherwise whould not have seen. If you are in and around the coast area I would recommend David , there is more information on the services he provides on his website: http://www.daylightecuadortouring.com (David told me he would tour me around Ecuador for a month if I plugged him on my blog – well he didn’t actually tell me that but hey…)
Our first stop enroute to Manta was San Clemente which is an up and comming beach town. If interested in property, advised that still some great deals to be had, I noticed a few new condo complexes going up. We had lunch at a small but popular restaurant and you guessed it, camarones (shrimp) with rice was the special of the day. That and a beer set me up for the next leg of travel to Monticristi.
Monticristi is world famous for the making of straw hats (Panama Hats – which are actually made in Ecuador / longer story here). I had been to Monticristi once but ran out of time to buy a hat and thought it would be great to buy a hat from the source. Now really, how do you look at a straw hat and determine that it worth twenty / one hundred / or three thousand dollars. As the uninitiated Gringo I was at the whim of the ladies that were trying to sell me a hat. As I have a small hat size they could not find a hat that fit good but according to the ladies I looked very good in the four hundred dollar hat even though I could turn it around my head. After some enjoyable negotiating I did buy one hat for $115 and was told that I could take one or two of the ladies and the hat as part of the deal, tempting but I only took the hat. Another beer and then off to the Manta airport.
Short wait at airport then short almost uneventful flight except for the missed landing. About 30 feet from the landing we were back on full power and up and away again for another try. For my friend John Steele an aviation nut, the plane was an A319 (or something like that – a nice one). From the airport to checkin at the Hotel San Francisco located in the Historic Central part of Quito. The hotel is a bit dated but clean and has a nice look, a tad noisy if you get a room just off the streets. A very short time later, another taxi back to the Quito airport to pickup Gwen and Pat for the start of their 6 week experience in Quito. A longer wait then finally they arrived and as the thoughful brother I greeted Gwen with fome flowers and Pad with a handshake. Another taxi back to the hotel and we finished the day off with rum and coke.