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Published: August 4th 2013
Last week found us lounging on lovely Pacific beach in Manta...well sorta. We were both still down with awful and long lasting head and chest congestion. Lowering elevation did not help, nor did antibiotics, nor rest..juices..chicken soup etc. The good.
The guest house is very nice, with a comfortable layout, good furniture and fixtures and a splendid view of a long , quiet sandy beach. Views of breaking humpbacks, fishing fleets, kite sailors and families enjoying the water were a daily treat. Breakfast at the palapa restaurant was very good with excellent crepes, eggs, fruit, juice and coffee. We slept or read most of the time. We walked the beach a bit but our colds would act up every time we did. The young Managers fro The Netherlands and Canada were lovely people, taking time from traveling to earn some money and stop for awhile.
On the last full day, still not feeling up to par, we went to a small city called Montecristi, home of the Panama Hat. For those who d not know, Ecuador is the origin of the Panama Hat. ALl real Panamas are hand made from a plant grown only here..."paja toquilla". It is
a fine fibrous straw and very flexible and strong. You can buy them in super fine, fine and medium fine from many shops here, all owned by the hat maker. Mike spent over an hour looking choosin and bargaining for a fine one. He got it. It will have to be blocked when we get back and there is a hattier in Tucson who will do it. It was a lot of fun and it even looks good...he says. He can now pretend to be Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando in The Godfather or Bob Hope in "on the Road". Just by changing the shape of the brim. The Bad
One of our travel objectives was to learn how expats live here. Quito was difficult because meeting anyone in this bustling city was a matter of chance or living in a condo where they live. Most expats we found were young travellers rather than folks planning to stay here. Same in El Oriente. We figured that Manta would be our first chance to have a conversation with expats, learn how they see life in Ecuador and explore their reasons for staying or not. Why Manta. Because our guest house
Yeah he bought it.
owner and host is a gringo and has been here 8 years and there is an active and organized group.
Katy was invited to join our host and about 20 women expats for a lunch just after we arrived. She decided to go even though she did not feel 100%. When she got back, she was angry, astounded and disappointed. The group, all Americans do not speak any Spanish (almost wear that as a badge of honor), live in gated communities with other expats resoundingly dislike and distrust all Ecuadorans.
They see locals as dumb, wanting to either overcharge or steal from them and lazy. Over the next couple days, we realized this attitude, bordering on racism, was a central topic of conversation. It seemed as though the expats needed this to be both true and supported by others in order to validate their stereotype. Once our host even said she would prefer not to hire any locals, and said it in front of the women who cook and clean for her guests. When asked why, she said "all they do is steal what they can. These two probably steal a little every day". When we gently countered
this she said "you just don't understand. Wait till you live here".
On our way back from dinner at a Palapa restaurant, we were accosted by...no not locals...a small group of expats who had come to say hello. They were absurdly drunk and obnoxious. Our host saw them as just having fun. Mike came close to actually hitting one guy who would not stop being in his face. We decided that this was certainly not the place for us and said so. As we talked with other guests...mostly Europeans...we realized that the US expats were the kind of ignorant, judgemental people we met at home who led disarrayed and often dysfunctional lives there and simply carried on the same stuff here. The only reason they are here is because they cannot afford to live in the USA.They constantly rail against the IRS and Obama, blaming both for stealing their money and way of life. So they come here cause they can hire housekeepers who steal or cheat and are too dumb to learn English. They easily fulfill their own prophecy and with lots of support. The Ugly
Yes the "Ugly American" is still alive and well.
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