We begin our tour by visiting Museo Cancebí in the city of Manta. Our guide enlightens us on the ethnographic history of Manabí province, home to the cultures and traditions of the Manabí people. Learn about the cholo (fisherman), montubio (countryside worker) and agricultor (farmer). Also see a room full of antiques and another dedicated to cultural art exhibitions.
We continue the tour by driving to Montecristi, home of the Panama hat. Genuine Panama hats, despite their name, hail from Ecuador. During the Spanish American War, in 1898, the U.S. government bought about 50,000 of the hats for its troops from merchants in Panama. The hat was additionally popular with work crews that built the Panama Canal in the early 20th century. It´s no wonder no one knows the hats come from Ecuador.
On arrival in Montecristi, a colonial town founded in 1628, we visit the town’s main square, home to the impressive statue of a former Ecuadorian president that was born here. This beautiful little town is indeed the highlight of the tour. Montecristi retains the atmosphere and faded elegance of its Spanish heritage. We stop by a picturesque wooden building in the town that once served as Ecuador´s first girls´ school. With its old walls and wonderful well-worn wooden floors, this rustic building now holds a cornucopia of artisan stalls selling straw baskets, jewellery, colourful handicrafts and Panama hats. Montecristi's central square and many narrow streets provide additional local shopping opportunities.
After visiting Montecristi we board the coach and return to the ship.