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Left Bahia de Caraquez Monday morning for Manta, turned out to be another 30 minutes more than we expected. The kids nonetheless were pretty good and didn’t fight or complain too much.

The Ceibo trees are the one spectacular sight to see on the way, and they only grow only for maybe up to 20 miles outside of Manta.  They stand like sentries taking up the empty spaces seemingly at random, but at closer inspection around where water is bound to gather.

At first they appear to grow quite separately, as they have extensive roots which take up all the water in the surrounding area and don’t let much else grow nearby. Manabi is mostly tropical desert and there’s obviously not a lot of rain this time of year. As we got closer to Manta, there were forests of the trees as there must be more water in the soil. Ceibos, Manabi, EcuadorTheir thick trunks quickly branch out and the branches appear like so many hands groping. Most of the trees are gray in appearance, looking almost like dead things. In other areas, the trees appear with a mild green hue and none of them had any leaves, just the wiry, spooky branches. I’m not sure these are like Baobab trees in Africa, they’re not thorny but the seem to look the same. Anyway, they really give the landscape an alien sort of look, as they resemble giant creatures that have touched down and at any moment might use their branches to start grabbing things off the ground.

Manta is a tuna town-there’s a large port and fleet of tuna boats, and as soon as you’re within 5 miles or so of town, the smell of fish permeates the air everywhere, and it’s not pleasant. A lot of canned tuna is produced here, both for consumption in Ecuador and for export. Tuna of Manta, Ecuador

Until just a few years ago, the US military operated an air base here for interdicting drug trafficking flights. But  Ecuador’s current president, Correa, wouldn’t renew the lease unless, as he said “Why doesn’t the US let us operate a military base in Miami? Then we’ll be glad to allow them to operate here.” With all the US presence that was here for nearly a decade, the city has grown a lot, and there are a number of attractive high-rises dotting the waterfront.

We spent a few hours at the local beach, but it was too windy to really enjoy it, so we went and had lunch at one of the local beachfront restaurants. From there we headed back towards Bahia de Caraquez.

On the way, we stopped first just before the town of Roca Fuerte. The area is known for Tagua production-which is a kind of vegetable “Ivory” that only grows in a particular region and comes from a particular type of palm tree. The shop was full of bracelets, necklaces, and knickknacks, all nicely made. Fortuitously, Sebastian needed the bathroom and we weren’t sent downstairs where the workshop was located. It was nothing more than a very basic cement floor with four walls; but laid out on tables were pieces of Tagua in all shapes and colors, being drilled, sanded, molded, and over in another area the tumbling drums were spinning to polish pieces. of Tagua. The prices were ridiculously cheap and I can see that this is one of those places that if you “know” about could make a great opportunity for export. Tagua

Just down the road we stopped in Roca Fuerte, which is known for its traditional sweets. They had all kinds of little bite size things made with guava, papaya, peanuts, banana, and other fruits. I also tried a fully candied lemon=the outside of the lemon was coated with a layer of dried fondant sugar. I broke away the shell and bit into it; the lemon itself was actually filled with dulce de leche, or manjar, which is very similar to caramel. There was no sign of bitterness left, but it was too sweet to eat the whole thing in one sitting. We stopped in two different stores before heading back.  Roca Furete is worth a stop if you have a serious interest in food, but if not, you can pass it over. But the drive through Manabi is worth it just to see the trees. Their spooky appearance is something that will stay with you for a long time.Roca Fuerte, Ecuador, Sweets

Welcome to Destination Ecuador!

Welcome to Destination Ecuador! My family and I have been living in Ecuador for the last four and a half years. We’ve dealt with the worst kinds of red-tape, searched out or ended up making hard-to-find ingredients ourselves, imported equipment for making chocolate confections, learned the import-export business...Continue >>

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