Our trips to Manta, Ecuador are full of great memories. When I pulled together the nine shots needed for publication in Ecuador Por Mis Ojos, I had a hard time deciding which ones to share. I could focus on the ever-so-welcoming people of Manta, especially those working at the local markets and restaurants. Or I could focus on the wild places, the long sandy beaches and the endangered dry coastal forests.

Instead, I chose a little of both. While we love to explore wild places, like the Pacoche Reserve with their small band of Howler Monkeys, we also enjoy interacting with locals. And we found ways to escape the crowds by exploring the boat works of Manta in the early morning and the long sandy stretch of beach in San Lorenzo on a weekday rather than a weekend.

One trip, we rented a house with Ecuadorian friends, celebrating New Year’s Eve in traditional style and learning all the tips and tricks of buying the best seafood for our holiday meal. We ate local encebollado in a true hole-in-the-wall restaurant I could never name but could point to on a map.

These photos were all taken before the April 2016 earthquake that devastated much of the area around Manta, Ecuador. The local airport became a lifeline as aid poored in to the region. The vast majority of businesses working in tourism are open for business and are once again welcoming tourists year round.

I hope these photos encourage you to add Manta to your list of must see places along the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. You won’t regret it.

Boat Building in Manta, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Shopping for an New Year's Eve Effigy, Manta Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Howler Monkeys, Pacoche Reserve, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Manta, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Windsurfing in Santa Marianita, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
A young Manteño proudly displays his family's tuna for sale, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Slicing freshly caught tuna at the market in Manta, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American
Franklin's Gull, Manta, Ecuador | ©Angela Drake / Not Your Average American

These photos were published August 2016 in partnership with the Geographic Military Institute of Ecuador in the book Ecuador Por Mis Ojos.

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