Earth : South America : Ecuador : Coastal Lowlands (Ecuador) : Montecristi
Montecristi is a small town at the base of a mountain of that name. It can be reached from Manta, a port town, or Portoviejo, the capital of the province. By bus it costs thirty-five cents from any point in Manta, and by taxi between ten and fifteen dollars depending on where you are and your bargaining skills. Gringo tax* applies to both.
There is one road going through the town from Manta to Portoviejo. There is one bus coop. that goes to the town (it's oarnge), but taxis are avalable. The bus goes up to the church and through a few side- streets before returning to Manta.
The Catholic church in Montecristi is famous, and a must-see if you're Catholic. If you're not, you'll see it anyway. It's impossible to miss.
Once a year there is a pilgrimage to the church, where thousands of Ecuadorians pay their respects to the saint of the town. It's not recommended to visit during that week.
All along the streets are shops selling Panama hats, knick-knacks, keychains, hammocks, shawls, baked goods, furniture, and nearly anything else they can think of to sell.
Panama hats of the best quality are made here. Montecristi is famous for them, and for good reason. They ought to be re-named "Montecristi hats", but the hats were originally shipped around the world via ports in Panama and thus became known as "Panama hats".
The shops along the streets going to the church are slightly cheaper than the ones along the main road. You can buy anything hand-made there. If you want gifts or sovenirs, buy them in Montecristi.
Gringo tax is applied to any tourist. It is simply half of the real price of any item.
Example: A shawl costs three dollars. Half of that is one-fifty. If you are a Gringo (tourist), they will charge you four-fifty. What you can do: offer to buy two shawls for five dollars. They will hem-haw and accept.
Along the road there are people selling fruit and bread. It is unadvisable for tourists to eat any fruit that doesn't have a peel, but the bread is good. As always, choose a vendor that looks sanitary. There are a many restaurants and eateries in Montecristi that serve local food and other fare. Be aware of the "Gringo tax*" if you don't look local.
There are small shops scattered around that sell bottled beverages. Do Not Drink Tap Water. Ice should also be avoided.
There are a few hotels along the main street running perpendicular to the highway (i.e., going towards the church and main square). They are in the $20 to $25 per room range. Cheaper rooms are available along the highway.
Montecristi Real: an older hotel that is past its prime, but provides decent rooms for $20 to $25. Some have balconies with views over town and across the landscape. On the main drag leading up to the church (i.e., turn up off the highway and head towards the main square and church).