Ecuador, part 4 – Manta

Manta is an Ecuadorian beach town – its where “wealthy” Quitoans head for vacation in summer months, ie December to April. High rises line the beachfront and vendors fill up all the little apparently free stalls to sell things like fish and bracelets that no one ever seems to buy. Ecuadorian luxury is a bit of an odd concept to westerners. Example: the bus down here yesterday had AC cranking to ridiculous levels. I had to get out a heavy jacket and even then I was slightly cold. It must’ve been about 15 degrees when the air outside was over 30. Its the same in Asia. An the hotel last night had marble surfaces everywhere – floors, walls, ceilings, tables etc… Needless to say, noise echoed throughout the place (luckily it was empty). I had a Jacuzzi for 2 in the room. It didn’t actually work, but it was there. The subtleties of luxury are kinda lost. They’ll eat expensive meals at cheesy restaurants when there are fantastic little beach cabanas where you can get the freshest fish and salad and plantains and a fresh squeezed juice for $5 while enjoying the swaying palms and a fresh breeze off the ocean. I suppose its all perspective, and this is the stuff that matters to them.

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I went down to Murcielago beach (yeah, like Lamborghini beach) and found an odd 2 story building perched well below the tide line. I suppose its some kind of lifeguard station that they’ve abandoned. Its right in front of a good break so I watched surfers for a bit an eventually a small group of them came in for a shady reprieve and a meeting on water safety. They saw me eyeing them a bit and i was lucky enough to join them. It seemed like an enviable lifestyle – give them some tasty waves and some good buds and they’re happy. It was a nice perspective. Another thing I noticed is that no one really sunbathes, they prefer to hang out in shady spots and tents. Smart. Especially when your skin is already naturally bronzed.

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Generally weather has been pretty good, although I may not get up into the volcanos and highlands since they’re more cloudy. We’ll see. However, the semi cloudy days are just perfect in the valleys and jungles and beaches – when the equatorial sun is out, it is seriously intense. And the humidity is up there. In the rainforest (ie Mindo) clouds build during the day and drop a bit of rain between 4 and 6pm most days. On the coast, morning fog burns off by noon. So there’s a good mix of conditions and its easy to plan around weather. Sometimes though, you walk out of a cool shady place and the heat and humidity hits you like a wall. I’m sweating just sitting still in the lightest summer clothing while Ecuadorians walk around in pants and down jackets.

On one particular afternoon back in Mindo Iheaded out for an afternoon walk to the river just to check it out and, like clockwork, the skies opened up when I was on my way back. I waited out the worst 20 minutes of the storm under the archway entrance of a game preserve and when it turned back to mere light mist I continued back toward town. I discovered that the town has built a covered concrete mini soccer pitch and its a pretty hopping place when there’s rain. Needless to say, soccer is popular here, as it seems to be in every Hispanic country, and the level of play was high enough to keep me entertained for about an hour. This is the kinda stuff I love to see, the real pulse of the place, rather than some kind of canned exhibits in a stuffy museum.

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Onward to puerto lopez.

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