We begin our tour in Manta by visiting the Cancebí museum. Our guide will enlighten us on the ethnographic history of Manabí, which is home to different cultures and traditions of the Manabita people, including the cholo (fisherman), montubio (countryside worker) and agricultor (farmer). In addition, view a room of antiques and a room dedicated to cultural art exhibitions.
We continue driving along Manta’s coastline 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 some 50,000 of these hats for the troops from merchants in Panama. Add to that the hat's popularity with the crews that constructed the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century and it's a wonder that anyone knows them as Ecuador hats.
On arrival in Montecristi, a colonial town founded in 1628, we will have the opportunity to visit the town’s main square, home to an impressive statue of a former Ecuadorian president born here. This beautiful little town is indeed the highlight of the tour, and still retains the atmosphere and faded elegance of its Spanish heritage.
We'll stop by a picturesque wooden building that once served as the first girls' school in Ecuador. With its old walls and wonderful well-worn wooden floors, this rustic building now holds a cornucopia of artisan stalls selling straw baskets, jewelry, colorful handicrafts and Panama hats. Montecristi's central square and many narrow streets provide additional local shopping opportunities.
After our visit to Montecristi we reboard the coach and return to the ship.