We left for Portoviejo in a hired car that we contracted for $90.00. The first thing we noticed along the route were a lot of fancily dressed cowboys mounted on horses. Turns out there was a horse show and parade in Guyaquil that weekend and they were all headed there. We saw a lot of working cowboys but they were not so fancily dressed. Along the way we had to stop once or twice for a funeral and herds of cattle being moved down the road. The route was strewn with huts selling coconut and other fruits and foods.
We arrived at Portoviejo to the Hotel Ejecutivo owned by another Coveliano, Aristo Andrade. He and our Peruvian friends Tontolin and his son, Richard Harry were waiting for us there. Tontolin was there to receive an award from the Casa de Cultura as an outstanding Latin American Poet and author. We were shown to the suite where several presidents have stayed, including the current one, Rafael Correa.
During the nest week we enjoyed the company of friends and took quite a few day trips. Ariosto took us to see Manta, a bustling port city nearby. On the way we saw many people making a pilgrimage to a church in Montecristi to ask the virgin for favors. Montecristi is famous for the weaving of fine Panama Hats. Panama hats is a misnomer given to sombreros de paja toquilla. All true Panama hats have always been made in Ecuador. The name came from the place they were exported from, Panama. There is an incredible statue made of mosaic dedicated to the weavers. There are quite a few statues and monuments in all South American cities’
On another trip we were accompanied by a member of the Casa Cultura who took us high up on a mountain to see an area they are thinking of developing as a camping area. It has beautiful views and there is evidence that there were ancient civilizations located there. There are quite a few Ceiba trees, also know as kapok trees that have many legends surrounding them.
Richard accompanied us to Crucitas, a beach town and to Bahi de Caraquez and San Vicente as well. These beaches were all warm water and sand. There were fishing boats lining the top of the beaches. They are launched directly into the surf and it is quite interesting to see them all but flip over as they crest the breakers on the way to sea. When they come back they are hauled back to the top of the beach by placing logs under them and rolling them. Bahia used to be a beautiful resort town but much of it is under construction right now. There is a 3 year old bridge that replaced the ferries going across to San Vicente. On one trip with Richard to Manta we rented a boat and skipper to show us around. We saw the fishing fleet as well as Blue Footed Boobies and pelicans. There was also a sea turtle and many frigate birds, or fragatas. These birds are amazing as they seem to be like kites and hold still in an air current for long times.
Fish and shell fish are abundant and inexpensive along the coast but get very expensive farther inland. More on that in the next stop..Canoa..
Portoviejo is the capital of the province of Manabi. It is a city of about 200,000 people. It is fairly nondescript as large cities go but it has everything one would need and is a lot more tranquil than cities like Manta. Ariosto has offered to help us get connected there and assures me I could easily work teaching English. We consider this to be a possible town for our relocation. It is close to the beaches and commerce but yet is a quieter town and not so hot as the coast.