We took a local bus from Puerto Lopez to Manta. The trip started with a local taxi kind of fun but a bit alarming when you are on the road with real cars and trucks! The bus to Manta was relatively modern it had air conditioning and a picture of Jesus presumably to keep us safe.
The roads were in pretty good shape and we arrived safely with our bags still there in Manta a few hours later. The area around the Manta bus station did not feel overly safe even though we arrived during the day light. There were people around along with food stalls but all the windows had bars and the buildings looked a bit rough, We got lost and wandered around in circles for rather a long time but eventually we did find our hotel, the Hotel Lun Fun. It was on a back street and an armed doorman buzzed us into the building. The woman at the desk was very friendly and spoke excellent English. The hotel was also the first and only one on the trip that took credit cards. It was a large hotel but it seemed pretty empty. Once we were settled we set off to explore Manta, Ecuador’s 5th largest city and an important port. Playa Murcielago is right in the middle of town and our hotel was not far from the water so we spent the rest of the day wandering along the area closer to the water which appeared much safer than the area around the bus station.
We found the beach. It has rows of restaurants and stalls with vendors selling local crafts.
We choose one and had ceviche which is a specialty of the country and particularly of Manta. A sort of ice cold seafood soup. I did not really like mine but Harold’s was better.
The restaurant behind us was doing a great business with Karaoke. They were passing out instruments to people in the crowd and everyone was have a great old time!
In our wanderings we found a park with very large lizards, a giant fish statue and some fancy looking condos.
We flew from Manta back to Quito the following day. After our previous 12 hour wait in Quito airport we asked the advice of the locals and were told not to go to Manta airport more than an hour in advance because it’s only staffed when there is a plan coming!