Recently a new couple in town, Marcia and Glen, asked us if we wanted to go to the opera in Manta, a nearby city. Of course we were in. Several other couples wanted to go, too. Marcia set up a ride for all in a van that could carry 9 people. It would pick us up at home and drive us to the restaurant in Manta and then take us to the venue. The big question was what to wear. I brought 6 suitcases, so fancy clothes did not make the cut when we were packing. Leo did manage to sneak in a couple of blazers, one dress shirt and a tie. I did bring one blouse and dress slacks that I thought would take me anywhere in Ecuador. As it turned out that outfit would have taken me to this event.
We decided to ask Olayita who is Ecuadorian and who attends social events. She said I should dress semi-formal. It made sense, so she took us to various stores in Portoviejo to shop for clothes. I was successful with the first blouse I tried on. It was black with a glittery front and it fit. ($25.00) Then we had to buy a black bra. We began to walk up and down the streets in Portoviejo. On the street under a small canopy, was a woman selling bras. She dug through her inventory underneath the table and came up with a bra that she thought would fit. She put it on me over my clothes right on this busy sidewalk. It was too tight. She got a bigger one and put it on me and it did fit.($5.00) At this point I was unaware of the people around me. I guess I was blocking it out. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I was trying on bras in the middle of a city sidewalk. Welcome to Ecuador. Then I had to buy shoes. Since I do not wear heels and haven’t for years, we had to get a size 8 (very big here and they have few) in a small heel. No 6″ heels for me! We went to numerous stores before anyone even had anything to look at for me. Finally we found a pair that Olayita thought was appropriate. They were uncomfortable, but they were the best I could do. The shoes were the most expensive item, $36.00. Then we went to find a purse. What I saw was much too glittery for my tastes, so I decided I didn’t need a purse. The little I carry, camera and lipstick could fit in Leo’s pockets. Next we had to buy a scarf/shawl. We found a black one with silver threads running through it-Perfect! $6.00. Then we needed jewelry-a necklace and earrings. We found them at the first store we went to. They had a big selection of very glittery stuff. I found the most simple one, but still glittery. (16.00). Done by noon and ready for lunch. We ate at a nice restaurant in a hotel. The lunch was $5.00 per person including dessert. We treated Olayita to say thank you for taking us through the streets of Portoviejo looking for clothes.
After lunch we went to Chile Street to find a Santa Claus hat. No such luck. I liked looking at the Christmas decorations in all the little stalls. I did buy a few balls for the tree and some styrofoam balls to paint later.
Saturday was the big event, The Opera, but it turned out that it was not an opera, but a musical event instead. I am not complaining, but it goes to show you, you get surprises in Ecuador. That’s why you must be a “go with the flow” kind of person in Ecuador or you will be crazy and hop the first flight out of here–and many have, but there are many still here, going with the flow! The “opera” cost us $20.00 per person. The van ride cost us $16.50 per person, and the dinner at mamma Rosa’s cost us $48.00 for two which included wine, dinner, dessert, and espresso. The evening was expensive by Ecuadorian standards, but we were happy to participate, because it is something out of the ordinary. We loved the whole evening. The ride sure beat the bus and it was fun to be with a group of friends. The place where we ate was very pretty outside and inside and the food was delicious. There were expats from Crucita, Manta, & San Lopez. We met and talked with many different people at the restaurant. We were near the venue, so we headed down to the show about 7:30. The place was very pretty. We were seated in a courtyard surrounded by a tall while wall. Along the wall were lights and palm trees. In side the courtyard to our left was a lighted gazebo and near that was a bridge over a small water feature. The stage was set up in one corner, so the seats were placed diagonally, parallel to the stage. It turned out that there were 200+ people attending the performance, both expats and Ecuadorians. The people were dressed up, but not semi formal. Only a few men had on suits and ties. There were a few glittery women there. The music was provided by 4 young people (20’s). They played the piano, and violins. Two of them sang. The girl was a soprano and one boy (her boyfriend) was a tenor. Everyone was extremely talented.They played and sang a variety of songs, some in English. It doesn’t matter what language you listen to musically, it sounds beautiful.
The night was perfect. A cool breeze blew over the crowd. The open sky was beautiful. Near the end, the boy and girl sang love songs together. Leo whispered the words to the love songs to me. Very romantic.
Below are clips from the performance just to show you what you can experience in Ecuador in a big city. Seriously, we had read that on the coast it is a very minimal lifestyle of fishing villages, which is true, but we happen to be in an area near two big cities, so we have more to take advantage of. On the internet we read that you can find these kind of things in Quito and Cuenca, two very big cities, but we are pleasantly surprised that we have them here, too.