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Thursday, January 19, 2023

When in Ecuador, buy a Panamá Hat! We drove about an hour outside of Manta to one of a handful of top hat makers who do everything by hand. Before deciding to buy a hat, which we really did not intend to do, we had a private demonstration of the entire process. These hats start at $10 and can run into thousands.

Yesterday we had a great day in Manta, Ecuador. To be totally candid, when we booked this cruise, we did so because so many of the ports were in Australia and Africa. We were going to many places we had never been with the added bonus of seeing really good friends who live in Perth. We really thought the first two weeks until we got to Lima were a total waste of time and money.

We have always loved Key West, but had been there dozens of times and did not have to take a cruise to get there again or to see our friends in the Keys. In fact, I was expecting a shitstorm out of my beloved Wife, and anticipated we might not even get off the ship in the majority of these early ports.

What a pleasant surprise! We have had great experiences in every port. We loved Belize, Guatemala, Columbia, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador. One reason is that we did our own thing and have been very lucky that the driver/guides we just found when we arrived, and the one yesterday we obtained through Tours by Locals, have been uniformly great and clearly better and much less expensive for us than the ones offered by the cruise.

Yesterday our guide charged, before a very generous tip, $95 for the entire day and that included $10 toward lunch. We started with him about 8:45 a.m. and finished close to 6 p.m. Those couples on the cruise line's tours paid a minimum of $200 for tours of three and a half to four hours and did not see half the things we did.

Our first stop was a great fish market. Some produce was also sold. The prices were incredibly low. Gorgeous fresh fish just caught for prices you could not believe! A bowl of ceviche almost too big to lift was $2.50. We bought 12 delicious plums for $1. One could buy a whole fish, take it to a stand, and they would cook it for you right there.

We went to the boatyard, the rain forest, had a great lunch, and then went shopping, including for Panamas Hats. We learned about Ecuador’s coming election. When I asked what percentage voted, the answer was 100% of everyone under 65. Once 65, it is no longer mandatory to vote but most do. There is a fine if one does not vote when required and that fine is based upon one’s income, not a flat amount which would mean those with greater wealth could afford not to vote.

Also interesting is that regular gasoline is about $2.25 per gallon but premium is over $5.00 per gallon. Virtually everyone buys regular.

We now sail for two days. Our next port is Lima.


If George Santos were Pinocchio, there would not be room for anyone in the House but him. He even lied about his Mother’s whereabouts on September 6. It is easier to list the truths he told rather than the lies. Way to go Republicans, but shame on the Democrats for maybe the worst opposition research in modern history. I am beginning to think frontal lobotomies are a precondition for holding public office.


The stock market tanked yesterday. It is likely to tank today and continue to do so until the Republicans remove their heads from their asses and vote to pay our bills. Holy shit!


I do believe we are living in the Twilight Zone. Take a look at the Bill introduced by the Republicans which basically abolishes the income tax and imposes a flat 30% sales tax. Cannot get more regressive than that. Introducing that kind of legislation is a total waste of time and money. It is irresponsible to the point that these lunatics should not hold public office. Expect more and more of this nonsense because McCarthy prostituted himself to gain the Speakership and he agreed to allow these clowns to do whatever crazy things they wanted.


See you tomorrow. At least that is my plan.


Go Ukraine.

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