Last night we crossed the equator, so we spent yesterday afternoon harassing those crewmembers who had not yet been south of it in our very own version of the traditional seagoing King Neptune Ceremony.  As a “shellback,” or repeat equator crosser, I was asked along with many others to play a role in the ceremony.  Donning a bandana and sword, I helped move the “pollywogs” along as one of the pirates.  Throughout this ceremony the newbies are addressed and convicted of their very own cruise ship themed crime.  They are then punished by having to kiss a large disgusting fish then have kitchen goop and ice smeared, dumped, and smothered all over their bodies before receiving the verdict from the ship’s senior staff.  If guilty, they are pushed in the pool and if innocent they must remain seated along the rim.  It’s all fun and joyous and we all ended up the pool anyway.  It’s one of my favorite ship events that I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to take part in again.

We made it!  Our first South American port!  We finally hit it – after surviving the freezing chill of a Canadian autumn; dodging the ferocious winds and wakes of hurricane Sandy; and patiently squeezing through the Panama Canal.  Manta, Ecuador does not often play host to cruise ships, which allowed us an authentic experience of the “Capital of Tuna,” without being watered down or built up to support tourism.  Having an extensive fishing industry, one can only imagine the amount brought in.  I can tell you that the ship next to us offloaded large tuna carcasses by the net full from eight in the morning until at least well into the three o’clock hour.  I couldn’t even guess how much they had in total.

Our main event of the day was just walking along the water, checking out the sights along the way.  My favorite was of a local man cutting off pieces of fresh tuna to throw to the pelicans.  I have never seen these amazing birds up close and I have to say from my experience that they behave like dogs!  They beg, sneak, and catch food when thrown to them.  They are hilarious!  A one eyed blue-footed booby brought me down a little as he sat on his own watching the big birds get free food.  Their feet really are blue!  Poor guy was a bit of a loner.

I stood by while my peeps delved into a seafood lunch since I can’t stomach the stuff.  We had a great view of the Pacific Ocean from the restaurant and I delighted in the post-lunch opportunity to stick my feet in Ecuador’s surf.  I had a beautiful Ecuadorian experience, complete with a sunburned scalp, but totally worth it.