A busy, working port
Manta turned out to be a much better port than I expected! I could have happily just spent the day out on our verandah watching the fishing boats, for this is a major tuna port and all day long fishing boats have been moving huge nets of fish into trucks for transport to the packing factories and where ever else they take them. We’ve watched nets so full of fish that as fish were transferred to the trucks a half-dozen or so huge fish would miss the truck altogether and land on the pavement; eventually someone would gather them up and toss them up into one of the bins. Early this mooring we watched as a huge fishing net was transferred to a waiting truck. The net was threaded up through a high pulley mechanism on the boat and then down onto the truck; as it rose up to the pulley and then down onto the truck crews of 6-8 individuals pulled sections of the net out to inspect it and then fold it onto the truck. It took a couple of hours to complete this operation; the net was really big.
We did take the free shuttle out to the port gate (required; you’re not allowed to walk out) for a walk along the beach. It’s a very nice beach, with many little restaurants along the shore, kiosks selling netted sets of children’s sand toys and sunglasses, and a separate section of the beach where water-skiers can do shore takeoffs. There are beach chairs along the shore, all in a line, with umbrellas; we didn’t go down to make sure, but probably those are rented. Because it’s Saturday, lots of families were there to enjoy this beautiful day. We crossed the street (not easy! lots of traffic and no stop lights although there are crosswalks) to visit a delightful museum displaying pre-Columbian artifacts. If you come here don’t miss the little movie that runs in an anteroom at the back of the fourth floor; it’s in English and it’s an animated discussion of Andean thought about the afterlife. While the displays are signed only in Spanish the large drawings on the walls need no language for enjoyment. After returning to the pier we took the $7 shuttle to the plaza marketplace but had we realized how close it was we would have just walked over there too. There are some attractions here that are too far to walk, namely the hat and button factories and (I think) an ecological tour, but what is in the port area is so close that the ship is visible at all times. Turn to the right at the port gate to go to the beach; go left to head up to the plaza.
We were lucky; our verandah overlooked the fishing boat activity, but if you’re here and you don’t have an automatic view, find a place onboard to base yourself for some interesting observations in a working fishing port.