Tag Archives: Ecuador

20 December 2019:
Manta, Ecuador:
On the Line and in the Net

By Corey Sandler

After two days at sea in the pacific Pacific, we arrived early today in the bustling port of Manta, Ecuador.

Ecuador…as in Equator.

Manta is at 00 degrees and 57 minutes south of the Equator, which puts it roughly 67 miles or 107 kilometers away from the line that marks the planet’s middle. We’ll cross from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere sometime around 10 pm tonight as we head for Panama and beyond.

Ecuador, the equator, in many languages, shown in a mural at the port in Manta

The presence of this port brought it a brief moment on the world stage in March of 1736 when some of Europe’s greatest geographers and cartographers gathered here to embark on an expedition to determine the shape of the Earth at the Equator.

The survey included French and Spanish scientists, including Charles Marie de la Condamine, who sought to confirm Isaac Newton’s hypothesis that the earth is a not a perfect sphere but rather has a bulge at the equator because of the effect of centrifugal force on the spinning planet.

We found a monument commemorating that expedition tucked away in a corner of the port as we walked from the ship into steamy Manta, a few miles away.

Just as an aside, it was just a few months ago–July of this year–that I stood on a hillock in Hammerfest in far northern Norway to see a marker from the Struve Geodetic Arcs, a chain of survey triangulations stretching from the far north to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 kilometers or 1,752 miles, a 39-year-effort by German-born Russian scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve; his goal was to measure the exact size and shape of the earth by measuring a meridian–a line of longitude running from pole to pole, the opposite line from the equator which is the zero line of latitude.

One of the Struve Geodetic Arcs in Hammerfest, Norway

Back here in Manta, the waters are still thick with fish and the tuna catch remains a major element of the economy. The harbor was filled with vessels disgorging their bunkers with tuna, although the size of the creatures and their number has grown smaller over the years as humans overfish and otherwise damage our planet.

Tuna arriving in Manta this morning

And finally, it needs be mentioned that Ecuador–and in particular the town of Montecristi–holds on to its historical place as the origin of the Panama Hat. I know that sounds like a mix of countries, and it is, but many of the workers and visitors to the construction site of the Panama Canal in the late 19th and early 20th century wore straw hats of the type made here and the name of the Ecuadorian product was applied to the north in Panama. Today, some of the hats come from China and elsewhere with no relation to Ecuador or Panama.

A Panama Hat maker at work in Ecuador

All content by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. To purchase a print or book, please contact me.

9 December 2019 to 4 January 2020:
Valparaiso, Chile to Los Angeles:
Crossing the Equator on America’s West Coast

By Corey Sandler

We flew south all through the night from New York to Santiago, Chile. We left the wintry East Coast of the United States and landed in summery South America.

Viking’s Viking Sun will spend the next 28 days heading northwest and then north, calling at ports in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and then San Diego and Los Angeles in the United States.

This is just one month in a record-setting eight-month-long World Cruise. We will cross the Equator as we sail along the appropriately named nation of Ecuador. In fact, across the eight months of this cruise, this ship will cross the Equator four times heading south then north then south then north again. A hearty few dozen guests will be aboard for the entire journey, while others will partake of various segments.

I’ll be posting photos and comments here throughout this cruise. I hope you’ll join me here.

20 October 2017:
Manta, Ecuador:
Take Your Hat

By Corey Sandler

Here in Ecuador (as in Equator) you need a good hat. It’s not a fashion statement; it’s an essential.

Manta, the largest seaport in Ecuador, is a bit less than one degree south of the Equator, about 65 miles or 105 kilometers below.

It is nearby the place where a famous type of millinery for men and women is made, but that article of clothing bears the name of another country. The famous Panama Hat was first made here, and exported to the workers laboring in the hot sun.

Panama Hats in Ecuador. Photo by Corey Sandler

Today they still make some very fine Panama Hats in Ecuador. But if you don’t look very closely at the label, you might find that your sombrero nuevo was hecho en China.

Though you may never have been here, chances are pretty good you’ve opened a tin of food that was packed here. This is one of the major sources of canned (and fresh) tuna.

Just ask Bumble Bee, Van Camps, and a half-dozen other major companies with canneries here. And the most valuable fresh tuna are packed in ice, loaded on jets, and shipped around the world to connoisseurs.

Tuna coming ashore in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler

Street vendor in Manta. Photo by Corey Sandler

And although huge, goofy-looking Manta Rays are indeed found in the waters near Manta, they’re also quite common in many other places.

Manta Rays get their name from the Spanish word manta which means blanket, which is a reference to their shape.

Manta, Ecuador gets its name from the Manta tribe, a group of people that was subsumed into the oncoming Inca tide in the 15th century.

Back to hats.

I am fond of a quote from Henry David Thoreau, the champion of simplicity. He too, though, prized his hat: “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.


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