Lipstick left Quito in early morning traffic and soon found itself on nice double lane part of the Pan-American highway going South towards Machala.
Machala is a commercial centre for the surrounding agriculture industries. There is a large trade in bananas, coffee and cocoa. The banana industry is especially oriented for exportation, and plays a huge role in the city’s economy.
Bananas are shipped out from nearby Puerto Bolívarmainly to North America.
Machala’s geographical position near Guayaquil also makes it an important transportation centre.
Many travellers heading south to Peru or north to Guayaquil funnel through the city. It is not known as a tourist destination among Ecuadorians or international tourists, though its proximity to the Pacific Ocean positions it close to beaches.
Going down from Quito’s 2900m above sea level and reaching Machala at almost sea level also saw a change of scenery starting about 100km from Machala which is also sometimes referred to as the Banana Capital of the world but Cocoa ( some people in Equator refer to it as “black Gold) is also massively farmed in this area much to the benefit of all the chocolate lovers out there.
A recent archaeological study suggests that Ecuador may have been the original home of the cocoa bean which is the main ingredient in the manufacturing of chocolade – and here you can learn how chocoldae is made:
- It takes six months for cocoa beans to ripen. Harvests take place twice a year
- The beans, which are covered in a white pulp, are removed from the pods
- Beans are put in large heaps and covered up to ferment. This takes about a week. and is when the cocoa flavour starts to develop
- Beans are then dried for a week then taken to the chocolate factory
- They are then roasted, and separated from their shells in hulling machines
- The insides of the bean, called nibs, are turned into a liquid or chocolate liquor
- The chocolate liquor is blended with cocoa butter, and other ingredients and stirred for several hours
- The resulting thick mixture comes out and is poured into bar-shaped containers
- The bars are now ready to be packaged and eaten, about four days after the cocoa beans reached the factory
Whilst the guys drive through this country side the villages are full of excitement because it is Carnaval time in Equator and one of the main activities seems to be throwing water at each other…
Everybody throws or sprays water on everyone (ask Andre who left his window open whilst driving through town)
Everyone really seems to be in a festive mood and enjoying Carnaval which is also a public holiday in Equator.