Fishing is much more than fish…. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers. Herbert Hoover
Large sea ports and tiny fishing villages throughout the world all have their allure and special charm. Along the Pacific Coast of Ecuador lies a sea port town known for its commercial fishing. With just a half a day to spend in Manta, the capital of Manabi Province, we headed for the beach where the fishermen gather.
Our timing was perfect.
It was mid morning and a group of men and women working together were pulling a net containing a large catch of tiny fish. Competing for stray fish were the noisy frigate birds darting up and down just over the net handler’s heads.
For a long time, I watched and wondered how these villagers would ever bring that heavy laden net in. Instead, the “scoopers” went to them. Using a large colander, a man scooped the flopping fish into large plastic tubs which were taken up to the beach.
The tubs were either loaded into the bed of trucks…
… or the fish were transferred into large porous sacks, ready for market or the cannery.
Fish stalls were open for business and proudly held up their catch for me to see.
Squid was also available.
Manta is a Pre-Columbian culture, existing 1,000 years before the Spaniards arrived in 1535. It was known as Jocay which means “fish house.” It is believed that these ancient Mantenos once navigated the oceans in dugouts and rafts as far as Panama and Peru and perhaps the Galapagos Islands.
Boat building is still a skill, but far from the days of the dugout.
Today, Manta has the largest sea port in Ecuador and its population as of 2001 is 192,000. International corporations such as Bumble Bee and Van Camps have large tuna processing factories in Manta and export products to Europe and the US.
In one of the roundabouts is a large mural paying tribute to this vital fishing industry.
Coastal Ecuador is bursting with natural beauty. Long strips of sandy beaches dotted with small fishing villages are typical of what one finds while driving the scenic route. It was time to move on.
Destination: Puerto Lopez for lunch and then continue on to Alandaluz Ecological Center for the night.
All photographs by Ron Mayhew Photography