Wow, it has been a very busy few days. Our last couple of days in Manta with H&T were fun filled and we drove to a few new places for a day outing.. I’ve lost track of days, but I think it was Saturday we drove south about 45 minutes to a little restaurant. We drove through a very tropical area and it was very pretty. The owner of the restaurant speaks great English. He just happens to be the brother-in-law of H & T’s neighbor, the very wealthy Ecuadorian’s wife, the owners of Isabel Tuna. His menu was in English, so we knew what we were getting. Howard, Tanya and I went out in the ocean for a time after lunch… then more margaritas… then finally home. We went out to the movies that night and saw the Valentine’s movie with Julie Roberts, Taylor Swift… don’t know the name because it was in Spanish. The title.. but the movie was in English with Spanish subtitles. Had to put warm clothes on because of the air conditioning, but we were sweating like pigs til we got there.
Sunday – last day in Manta – drove north to a town H&T had never been to before. Another beach town..with a restaurant way up on the hill. This restaurant and the surrounding development is owned by a guy named Jim Cheek, from Wisconsin. Great view and location… but it took him 1 hour to get us our drinks and a total of 2 hours for entire meal experience. We then drove the beach road, got lost, got found, got confused, then found our way again. Pretty funny. Made it back to Manta. Gar and I were going to take H&T out for dinner, but all good restaurants were closed on Sunday night so we bought things and bbq’d burgers at their place and watched the Olympics. Tanya and I were in heaven and Gar & Howard seemed to have a good time going thru 2 boxes of wine.
Tanya is a wonderful artist and for my birthday she had taken a smooth rock from the beach and carved two fish in it for my sign (Pisces). It is gorgeous and I will always treasure it!!!
We had to get up at 5:30 a.m. Monday for our flight to Quito. It was hard to say good bye, but we were starting to think of home alot. We decided to splurge for the last few days and we got a room at the Hilton on the Executive level with lots of perks, but the best is the customer service people who help get reservations, taxis, offer advice. Very nice. It was like Anita in our first days here, but in a larger bedroom and our own tv, etc.
Yesterday was a great birthday… we had an English speaking taxi driver thanks to the Hilton and he took us to local flower vendors and Gar bought me some gorgeous flowers. A huge arrangement for $10. Then we went to the new cable car ride to the top of a mountain to look at the city. You all know me and heights… we went from approx 9,000 feet to over 13,000 feet in 20 minutes. I sat with my back to the view and eyes closed most of the time. At the top we got out and walked around, then had to go back down. I got very brave and sat facing forward and watched most of the time. Back by our hotel we walked thru the local market that has many vendors for various areas and bought a few light mementos to bring home. Then we went to Los Troncos Argentinean Steakhouse for dinner. Had champagne, great steak (Ecuadorian steak not so good… this was very tasty, but still a little tough). They brought me a surprise birtday flan with a candle in it. Gar had also done a b-day card in spanish and he had someone at the hotel help him write romantic things in Spanish on the card to me. So romantic!!! When we got back from the dinner the hotel had delivered a small birthday cake to our room. It was a great day.
Today… our last one… Gar had read about a place that was supposed to be about 45 minutes away where they grow roses to export and you can tour the plantation. Did you know that Ecuador is the largest exporter of roses in the world. We had another english speaking taxi driver, but the drive was 2 hours due to traffic and a bad accident. The place we toured has been growing roses for about 17 years, but that is only part of the story. The owner is a lady and her family. Her grandfather bought the land in the early 1900’s. It was originally a Jesuit church and all the surrounding area owned by the Jesuits. When they got to powerful, the government made them disband, and so land was sold off. The owner’s grandfather came from France and built his home there in 1919. The also have the chapel and the old grainery.
You must have reservations to go to this place… most won’t give tours. It was just the two of us (and our driver). We toured the greenhouses, then the sorting and packing area, then went to the house and given a wonderful tour of the house. All the rooms were filled with thousands of roses. There was a fountain out front with a pond filled with rose petals. We had food served to us out there, then a wonderful Ecuadorian lunch in the dining room. We were treated like royalty. We then went to the grainery that they had just restored and opened a week ago as a display area for roses. Then we got to got to the old chapel. All the art, furniture, etc is the original from 300 years ago. Gregorian chants were playing. It was beyond fantastic. You will not believe the pictures when I can send them.
This place exports 1,800,000 roses per month to the U.S., Holland and Russia. These countries then wholesale them out. And this is not the largest exporter in Ecuador. Gar has this grand idea that we will become rose sellers in Washington now. All I can say is that it was a wonderful day and a great way to end our trip.
OK – lots of things that I didn’t cover that I will try to post once we get home. Plus lots more pics to share.. Long day tomorrow, but looking forward to home!