Yesterday was the city of Portoviejo’s 5th annual mango festival. The festival was hosted by the Universidad Técnica de Manabí, at the jardín botánico (botanical gardens), a beautiful and enjoyable place to visit in its own right.
The gardens, created in 1993, boast 10 hectares of tropical flora to explore and even includes a surprisingly challenging maze formed from tall hibiscus hedges. Other features include a nursery with plants for sale, food pavilion, open park area (see photo below) and a host of natural fauna that call the gardens and the surrounding 35 hectares of hillside reserve their home, including large iguanas, turtles, and many tropical birds (mot-mots, oropendula, and parrotlets to name just a few).
We are pretty serious about mangoes in our household, often consuming multiple mangoes in a single sitting, especially during mango season (Nov-Feb). During this season, mangoes are ridiculously plentiful and very inexpensive. Tom recently purchased a giant bag of big, juicy mangoes for $15. The price per mango came to roughly $12 cents each. So far we’ve eaten about half of them, chopped and froze another quarter (mango smoothies, mango daiquiris!) and we still have so many left!
We’ve even gone so far as to request a custom mango painting for our kitchen from our artist friend Kerri (the same artist who created our beautiful ceibo painting that we featured on our ceibo blog post).
So with this background it comes as no surprise to find our crew at the mango festival. There we enjoyed mango cupcakes, a meal of grilled chicken smothered in a mango sauce, and even sipped on a couple of mango mojitos.
There are a surprising variety of mangoes grown in Ecuador. At one booth they had 16 different kinds on display. Our favorite mango thus far is the “Reina” mango, a giant yellow-skinned mango that is pure juicy pulp with no stringy fibers that get stuck in between your teeth.
The festival also had the requisite, WAY-too-loud music which may be found at any public event in Ecuador but we actually enjoyed the live music and dance performances. There were also locally made goods for sale, products for which the province of Manabí are known, such as hand-woven straw hats and bags,
tagua jewelry and bamboo knick knacks,
Plus fruits jams, chocolates, and assortments of ají (hot sauces) flavored with mango and other fruits.
While Kai got his face painted, adoring women took turns cuddling and taking photographs of Aiden.
Bellies full of mangoes we ventured back home to San Clemente and spent the remainder of our Sunday afternoon playing with on the beach…after which we came back in and somehow managed to eat MORE mango!