Take Time Out in Portoviejo
Located on the eastern bank of the Portoviejo River in the Pacific lowlands of Western Ecuador, Portoviejo is the commercial and political hub of the Manabí Province. The fertile areas of the Portoviejo River valley allows for the successful cultivation of a variety of produce, including coffee, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mangoes, bananas and other exotic tropical fruits. In addition to being the economic center for local agriculture and the timber industry, commercial activities in Portoviejo include the manufacture of pillows and mattresses filled with kapok – a type of cotton obtained from the seed pods of the Ceiba pentandra tree.
The city of Portoviejo was originally founded on the coastline in March 1535 by a Spanish captain named Francisco Pacheco. However, due to persistent attacks by local Indians, in 1628 it was moved around 30 km inland to a position more easily defended. The older neighborhoods of the city are home to some beautifully preserved Spanish architecture. The central park of Portiviejo has lush green lawns and colorful flowerbeds with well-established trees and palms. It is here that a bust statue of Ecuadorian poet Vicente Amador Flor Cedeño is situated. Born in Portoviejo on July 19, 1903, Flor earned numerous awards for his heartfelt poems, many of which were inspired by the city and its people.
Visitors to Portoviejo will find that the city has a good infrastructure, with supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters and medical facilities. It also has a large flea market in the downtown area of the city, where customer can buy a range of traditional and contemporary crafts and traditional local foods.
The nearby village of Sosote is interesting to visit as it is home to some of the country’s finest tagua crafters. Tagua is a palm nut that closely resembles ivory and is carved into a wide variety of practical and decorative items, such as buttons, jewelry, beads, and figurines. Referred to as ‘palm ivory’, tagua is a humane alternative to elephant tusks, and is beginning to be used more extensively by eco-conscious artisans. Watching artisans transform tagua into works of art is a memorable experience, so try to fit this into your itinerary when visiting Puerto Viejo.