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Guayaquil Explorations

Guayaquil: A day as a tourist rather than a working resident.

On Sunday I decided to explore a bit more of the city and be more of a tourist than I have been so far. I've been meaning to do this for ages but never seemed to have the time until now. My plan was to get off the bus halfway along the Malecon 2000 (a riverside 2km-long gated walkway with monuments, trees, childrens' playgrounds, snack stalls, lookout towers, a little shopping mall and a couple of other things) and walk along it to the top end, where there's the Cultural Centre. This includes the Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, which has an excellent reputation. I love anthropology museums and also wanted to see all the art. After going to the museum, my plan was to carry on past the top end of the Malecon into the colonial district of Las Peñas, explore that and then climb Cerro Santa Ana. Las Peñas is at the foot of the hill.

Before I left the flat I watched Andy Murray win the first two sets of the Wimbledon final, but had to leave after that because the guidebooks said the museum was only open until 3.30, I didn't want to rush walking along the Malecon beforehand, and I knew the bus journey would be quite long to begin with.

I had to change buses here, opposite the regional government building. This is where I had to go to register my visa within 30 days of arrival in Ecuador.


I'd noticed on the map that there's a botanical garden on the Malecon, but when I walked past it I saw it was taped off and inside it someone was doing some gardening. Hopefully when I go back next Friday or Saturday it will be open again.


Unfortunately, once I got to the museum I realised my guidebooks had let me down - the doors were locked, yet Lonely Planet and Rough Guides had assured me that the museum was open on Sundays between 11 am - 3.30 pm. Typical. I could have stayed to watch the rest of the Wimbledon final after all, instead of rushing out of the door after two sets!


I didn't dwell on my misfortune for long, however, because I was really keen to see Las Peñas and Santa Ana. The sun came out every now and then and was really hot, about 30 degrees I reckon, which I've heard is the same in some parts of the UK at present! Las Peñas is tiny, just one street in fact, but is filled with artists' studios and shops.


It was very picturesque and colourful, like I imagined. (Most of Guayaquil was destroyed by fire and earthquakes on two or three occasions over the centuries, so has few colonial buildings left. Las Peñas is the exception. Santa Ana also has lots of colonial style buildings but these were recreated as part of a regeneration project.) There were lots of local tourists about.


After I'd wandered along the street and back again, I climbed up the hill next to it, Cerro Santa Ana. There are over 400 steps to the top, and on each side there are houses and little shops and restaurants and side streets.

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At the top there is a plaza with cannons, a little chapel and a lighthouse, and directly below that there are the foundations of the fortress of San Carlos, built in 1629 to defend the city from pirate attacks. Next to it is a recreation of a pirate ship, half of which is a bar. I got incredibly hot and sweaty on my way to the top. I was glad I'd brought water!


The lighthouse was closed for maintenance purposes so I couldn't climb up it, but there was still a brilliant view from the terrace - I could see over nearly all of Guayaquil and beyond. I took several photos and also a video. I also had a look inside the little chapel and ate my second tuna mayonnaise and iceberg lettuce roll sitting on a bench outside (I'd had the first one at the Malecon before I got to the museum).


After coming back down again and walking back along the Malecon for a bit I briefly considered going to say hello to the iguanas again in the centre of town, but I decided I was too tired for that and caught the bus back instead.

Despite the museum being closed, which meant my day out was shorter than I'd planned, I still had a great time. Las Peñas is very picturesque and the view from the top of Cerro Santa Ana is well worth seeing. I'm definitely going to go back to the museum as soon as possible, and several people have said I must go to Las Peñas after dark because the bars are really good fun, unique in atmosphere due to the amount of artists who live in the district. The bar in the pirate ship reconstruction near to the top of Cerro Santa Ana has also been recommended to me. I think a teachers' outing to the pirate ship and Las Peñas will not be too long in coming!

Posted by 3Traveller 01:45 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art buses ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000

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