Welcome to our website ! Our vision is to inspire & promote international understanding through education and cultural exchange between South America - Ecuador and the rest of the world. To help people rediscover life with purpose, integrity and compassion, benefit from our experiences, and acquire knowledge for living in harmony in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. To share our "life changing adventure experiences" with family and friends worldwide. We have consolidated a wealth of the best resources on Ecuador, along with travel journals and photos. Our hope is that you will find this a valuable, user friendly resource network, which enriches your life, enables you to learn, challenges your thinking, and empowers you to discover and undertake your own new experiences and adventures.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Manta, Ecuador

Manta, Ecuador

In the province of Manabi, along the central Ecuadorian coast is Manta. It is the major seaport and the fifth largest city in Ecuador, having its origins as a pre-Columbian trading post for the Mantas. Currently it has a population of over 200,000 residents with it's main economic activity being fishing and tuna canning and processing. Processed tuna is exported to Europe and the U.S. International tuna corporations including Bumble Bee, Van Camps, British Columbia Packers, and Conservas Isabel, as well as leading national tuna processor Marbelize, all have sizable factories in Manta.

Other important products include vegetable oil. Large Ecuadorian corporations including La Fabril and Ales have their main factories in Manta. Tourism is growing and recently it is becoming a more popular stop for international cruise ships sailing from the Caribbean to Latin America. For the younger tourists or "young-at-heart", the city has a variety of bars and discotheques to provide an active nightlife.

Since 1999 it has been, until this month, home to the Manta Air Base where U.S. air forces, in conjunction with Ecuador, provide anti-narcotics military operations and carry out surveillance flights in a strategic program against Colombian drug trafficking cartels. It also serves as a geographical point for the U.S. to monitor any war craft heading north from the Middle East and Asia, and a regular stop for U.S. Navy warships. While several different accounts exist for the rational of the U.S. base closure, it is our understanding that the two countries were unable to reach agreement on the terms for continued tenancy. Rumors have the government of China interested in the facility.

Annually in October Manta welcomes dozens of performers from around the world who come to the Chusig Theater for the International Theatre Festival.

Manta has several nice beaches for surfing, water skiing, scuba diving, kite boarding, and was selected as the site of the sixth South American Windsurfing Championship. Manta hosted the Bodyboarding World Cup in 2004.

At Murcielago Manta's main beach we walked the malecon which ranges from the fresh fisherman's market, craft markets, to a variety of restaurants offering local cuisine featuring fresh seafood and delicious drinks of the region. The increased variety of choices is a pleasant change for us from our small community of Bahia de Caraquez. The delicious gastronomy is also one of the main attractions of Manta. One must not miss trying a fresh ceviche of several seafoods - wonderful most anywhere along the coast.

Five Minute Manta, Ecuador Tour

Manta, Ecuador Overview History to Present Day

Manta, Ecuador is renowned for sport fishing, with Marlins reaching 1.000 pounds. Manta has several Universities: Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro; Universidad del Pacifico; (Pacific University) and the Manta Institute of Technology.

From the beach lighthouse you can see nearby Isla de Plata (Island of Silver), which is part of an ecological reserve called Parque Nacional Machalilla. It is known affectionately as " the poorman's Galapagos " for it's similar fauna & wildlife sanctuary may be enjoyed at a much lower cost than visiting the world renowned Galapagos Islands 600 km off the coast of Ecuador.

Also nearby is the small town of Montecristi, founded in the early 1600s. With its colonial architecture, this small town is best known for its wickerwork weaving, and as the original birthplace of the Panama hats which, despite their name, were historically produced in Ecuador.

Currently all across Ecuador you can see municipal work crews preparing for an El Nino season by cleaning storm drains, renewing culverts, and in some areas upgrading or building new drainage culverts.

The last several weeks we have seen most crosswalks, and street lines being renewed in Bahia de Caraquez. Groups of 30 or 40 police academy trainees are organized to all line up across all four intersecting roads simultaneously, divert traffic, and use a bucket of white paint, brushes, and move a single board along to provide a better line edge! Manual labour on hands and knees not even long handle brushes here! They look fresh and much better for a few days – until all the traffic starts driving over them.

During the walk along the malecon in the final days of summer holiday the beach was the busiest that we have ever seen it since we arrived in Bahia. Dozens of vendors lined the malecon selling beer, cold drinks, many different types of foods, and popsicle & ice cream novelties. Shade tents were set up everywhere protecting families, their babies, food, or belongings from the elements. There were young boys jumping off the wharf, kids and their parents having fun in the water, young and old, and even dogs being completely buried in the sand. Many seadoos a few boats, and the water banana full of young people bouncing across the water could be seen. As we walked along the malecon there were many vehicles with open doors and loud music blasting. Many English bands and artists music is popular including Michael Jackson songs.

As soon as the sun sets, the beach clears quickly. Buses are loaded and people start to head home as darkness falls early and quickly. The gabarra becomes busy with traffic going back across the estuary.

Last evening we attended a national high school dance competition with 7 schools from around the province competing for an opportunity to compete further for the honor of a national title. In Latin America music and dance is in the blood. The Elroy Alfaro Coleseum was packed and we were treated to music and a show of several hours of high quality choreography, flashy & exotic costumes, and a wide variety of energetic dancing It was very enjoyable. Upon leaving we noticed a huge disparity in the transportation of the various schools to Bahia ranging from rickety old school buses to luxurious well-appointed Mercedes coaches. The competition finished at about midnight and many of these students would then travel several hours to their hometowns.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009



Portoviejo, the capital city of the province of Manabi, is one of the oldest and hottest cities in Ecuador founded in 1535 by the Spanish. It is the 6th largest city here with a population of 250,000. It is about one hour south of Bahia and located 40 km inland from the coast. It was once a port on the Rio Rocafuerte but river silt has filled the once riverbed as a result of deforestation. It is famous for the beautiful tamarind trees found in the area.

It is an important agricultural processing centre for the areas approximate 120 square kilometers which are under cultivation with tomatoes, onion, pepper, banana, mangoes and other tropical fruits, and primary products of coffee, cattle, and fishing. Although the information is somewhat dated, an excellent article on Ecuador's agricultural production is:


Here you will also find Kapok pillows and mattresses made from the fluffy fibre found in the seed case of the large Ceibo tree. The nearby agricultural areas of Rocafuerte are lush and green, and here you see a ricefield under cultivation with a very specialized, yet primitive tractor.

The first several times we traveled here by bus, taxi or with friends. This was very helpful as when we actually drove in a car ourselves the main roads to Portoviejo are not clearly marked, and the urban streets do not have any signposts.. A city map is of little use if you cannot determine and coordinate your position with a street sign, and adds little value with the challenges of one way streets, construction activity, and traffic barriers. Asking for directions you will always get several differing answers – so you learn to rely on landmarks and previous experience. Obviously more experience is directly proportionate to getting lost less and a more pleasurable adventure.

The coastal and rural populations often travel to Portoviejo for the markets, shopping malls and greater diversity of merchandise choices, movies, and cultural or sporting events.

The residents are very friendly and seem well educated. The main campus of the Universidad Tecnica de Manabi ( similar in size to U.B.C. ) is located here on Avenida Universitaria and they have Jardin Botanico - excellent gardens for public enjoyment. Their transportation department boasts about 50 large buses.


Portoviejo is also the home of Miss Ecuador 2009 Miss Sandra Vinces:


One afternoon we encountered about a dozen students from the Vincente Hurtado Colegio Educativa in Bahia where I taught for one month. We have now been to Portoviejo several times to sightsee, shop, and once to obtain our official government documents known as cedulas, and migratory certificados. This is an interesting process whereby foreigners are fingerprinted on both hands ( locals need only a single hand thumbprint ) for offical government recording. There is not any facility for washing the ink off your hands, and people resort to simply wiping it off on the nearest wall. The walls, some years ago a light colour are now mostly a dirty black smear !

Sloths can be seen in the central plaza - Parque Eloy Alfaro which is adjacent to a famous traditional old church for which Portoviejo is it's home. Street market stalls commingle with more modern facilities like cybercafes, the Dr Julio Villacreses Colmont Hospital, the province's primary cancer treatment facility, and technically advanced large electronic display billboards.

For additional information : www.portoviejo.gov.ec

Portoviejo and nearby Manta on the coast currently have the closest domestic airports for the entire Manabi province. The domestic airport across the bay from Bahia de Caraquez in San Vincente is scheduled to reopen shortly for domestic service several times a week.

Nearby is a small village of Sosote known for the horrible condition of it's mainstreet which is unpaved washboard, and its tagua carving workshops. Tagua is a white ivory like nut which can be carved into a variety of beautiful figurines.



And nearby towards Manta is Montecristi whose residents since 1890 have become famous for their weaving of Pananma hats. Most of the actual weaving is done in the rural countryside and brought into the village's mainstreet shops to sell.


For anyone that wishes a culinary adventure to Ecuador from the safety of their own kitchen here is a link for recetas to some favourite Ecuadorian dishes. A cautionary note - depending on the season, and your location you may have difficulty obtaining all of the fresh ingredients !


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Bahia de Caraquez, Manabi, Ecuador