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Visitors: Malecón, Las Peñas, Cerro Santa Ana and salsa

Guayaquil

Yesterday I only saw Emma, Kate, Mark and Andrew in the morning when I met them at the language school and took them to the bus terminal. They were going to Playas for the afternoon. It turned out that the night before, after they got back to their hostel after taking part in the first part of my lesson, they went swimming in the hostel's pool; on getting out of the pool Kate put her foot through the filter cover by accident, cutting and bruising her foot quite badly.

Today, while I was teaching in the morning the others looked round the Malecón, complete with botanic garden and the Museum of Anthropology & Contemporary Art. As soon as work finished at 1 o'clock I caught a bus into the city centre to meet them for lunch. I was held up considerably in traffic but we eventually managed to meet up. I wanted to take them to the restaurant E and I went to about a month and a half ago that sells delicious 'Encocado' (fish or shrimps in a creamy coconut sauce with rice), but unfortunately I couldn't find it, so we went somewhere else instead for lunch - the place on the Malecón that Mum and I went to in February. Kate, Emma and I all had sea bass which had been lightly breadcrumbed then grilled, which was amazing. I'm pretty sure it was the best breadcrumbed fish I've ever had!

Suitably refreshed, we headed over to Las Peñas to have a good nose around.

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We popped into a little art gallery and also saw at least two artists at work in their studios.

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We then took the side way up Cerro Santa Ana, the same way I'd taken Mum in February. We met this amazing dog on the way;

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Once at the terrace at the top we went up the lighthouse and had a look inside the chapel.

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After that the others went back to have a lie down and a swim in the pool. Later on we met up with 'E' at a nearby restaurant for dinner. The others were slightly shocked to find a security guard armed with a shotgun outside, but 'E' and I are used to it so we didn't bat any eyelids. Once inside, Emma and Kate had a lovely surprise because they saw Encocado on the menu! I was craving steak so I had that instead; it was delicious.

After we'd had dinner, we set off via taxis to a karaoke bar in Las Peñas that I've been to before. Kate and Emma were desperate to try the famous 'Alexander' cocktail I'd told them about (which in Ecuador is made from brandy, creme de cacao, condensed milk and crushed ice), so they and I had ones.

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I had intended for us to join my colleagues at a nearby bar for a drink or two before we carried on to the Captain Morgan, but as it turned out we didn't have time. We didn't want to be late for Captain Morgan!

The walk down the Malecon to where the boat was moored was very atmospheric in the dark, with the La Rotonda Monument and the Moorish Tower both lit up.

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After buying our tickets and waiting a while, we were allowed up the gangplank. A short while after the ship started to sail, a couple of guys with pirate hats came over and insisted on us posing for photos - he took photos with our cameras for us and if we'd wanted to we could have bought an official photograph from him for $5, but we chose not to.

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A lot of the music they played was salsa and merengue - and luckily for the rest of us, 'E' gave us an impromptu lesson in both! It was really, really good fun.

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We came back in to land at about 2 am. E rang for two taxis for us, one for me and her and one for the others.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:21 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art night museum hostel buses sisters salsa botanical_gardens cocktails ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine river_trip river_guayas Comments (0)

Visitors!

Guayaquil

Today was very exciting for me because my sisters and brothers-in-law arrived in Guayaquil! They had arrived in Ecuador on Tuesday the 8th in Quito and had spent the rest of that day and all of the 9th resting in the hostel and exploring the city before catching a local flight to Guayaquil this morning. I met them at the airport and we took a taxi to Urdesa, where their hostel is. (Credit to Kate for the following photos of me.)

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It felt so surreal, but lovely, for me to have them with me!

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After they had dumped their stuff and we'd cooled off in front of the fans for a bit, we caught a bus into town. This was a novel experience for them because the Selectivo buses in Guayaquil are very different to any bus in the UK. Mostly very ramshackle both on the outside and inside; streetsellers hop on and off with all kinds of goods; the fare is only 25 cents; the doors are nearly always kept open while the bus is moving; the aisle is usually very narrow; and the bus will stop anywhere (apart from on bridges/overpasses) for people to get on or off. The destinations are usually written on stickers stuck on the front windscreen.

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Our first destination was 'La Barca Azul', a restaurant I've been to a few times that sells a lot of 'Platos Tipicos' (traditional dishes) and is very untouristy. Emma, Kate and I had seco de chivo (goat stew), Mark had Ecuadorian ceviche and Andrew had seafood rice.

Then we walked down part of the Malecón, the rejuvenated waterfront by the River Guayas. Some of us climbed up one of the lookout towers next to the river and we also passed by the Moorish Tower.

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Then we turned right and carried on to Iguana Square, a park within the square in front of the cathedral. Even though I have seen iguanas many times now, they still look quite a novelty to me. They look so prehistoric that their presence in the city centre seems incongruous. We enjoyed wandering round spotting iguanas on the grass, on the paths and in the branches of one of the trees.

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After iguana- and turtle-watching for a while we carried on into the cathedral. Due to Lent, nearly all of the statues and paintings were covered with purple drapes. One of the only ones that wasn't was a big statue of Jesus carrying the cross and wearing the crown of thorns. Most of the cathedral was quite dark, with the exception of a spectacular, tiny chapel with beautiful stained glass and natural light, which we looked into but didn't actually enter because lots of people were inside it praying.

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After this we needed to get another bus, this time to my workplace. On our way to the right place to get it from we spotted a couple of parrots sitting on a ledge at the top of the front of the Town Hall!

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The bus took us back along the Malecón and past Cerro Santa Ana.

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There were only a couple of hours until my evening class. I really enjoyed showing them round the place, introducing them to my colleagues (both teaching and admin) and then introducing them to some of my students and including them in the first part of my lesson! We were working on past simple & past continuous within the context of childhood memories.

They took a taxi at 7.30 (that I had asked reception to order for them) back to their hostel. The plan is for them to come back to the language school tomorrow morning at 11.30 am, just as I get back from my Spanish lesson. Then we'll go straight on to the bus terminal together so I can help them get their tickets to Playas, where they're going for the day. I wish I could come too, because I've never been to Playas, but I have a conversation class between 7-9am, my Spanish lesson between 9.30-11am and an upper-intermediate class between 4-8pm.

Posted by 3Traveller 04:55 Archived in Ecuador Tagged airport cathedral buses sisters iguanas ceviche ecuador guayaquil explorations english_teaching malecon_2000 guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Ecuadorian football match: Emelec vs. Liga de Quito

Guayaquil

I have always wanted to go to a football match in Latin America. This might seem strange considering that although I've loved playing football whenever I've had the opportunity, I have never been much of a football watcher. I've only ever been to one professional football match in the UK, when I was at university in Swansea (Swansea City vs. Blackpool; Swansea won 3-2) and although I love watching international matches, I've never really supported any particular club. I like to see Arsenal, Manchester United and Swansea do well when I check the football results online, but I cannot in any way be described as a 'real' supporter. Yet football matches in Latin America have such a reputation for flair and for passionate support that I've always wanted to go to one just to experience it first hand.

With this in mind, when I had the opportunity to go to a match today I simply could not let it pass. The match was Emelec vs. Liga de Quito; Emelec is one of the two big teams in Guayaquil (the other is called Barcelona) and is named after a former Ecuadorian electrical company called Empresa Eléctrica del Ecuador. It's extremely popular not only in Guayaquil but in the country as a whole. Currently Emelec is at or near the top of the Ecuadorian Serie A, the top professional league in Ecuador; Liga de Quito is further down the table.

The match certainly was an experience and a half! I went with some colleagues and an Ecuadorian friend of ours, 'G', who had got the tickets for us in advance. Only $8 for a terrace ticket, the cheapest kind. The match was at home in Guayaquil so we didn't have to go far; we got the Metrovia bus rather than one of the standard Selectivo buses which stop anywhere people want within the set route (Metrovia buses stop only at set stops and go on different routes to Selectivos). That was the first time I'd ever needed to use a Metrovia bus.

The stadium is pretty small and had a lot of street vendors outside it selling things like bags of water, grilled plantains and meat skewers. As an aside, I still find the sight of liquids being sold in bags quite funny, even after nearly a year... milk, yoghurt, cream, oil, vinegar - these are sold alongside bottles of the same things in supermarkets and smaller shops. I'm surprised I haven't yet seen a punctured one.

We entered through a tiny side door and found a place on the terrace, which was a series of concrete steps for people sit/stand on. Vendors walked past constantly with soft drinks, bags of peanuts, Emelec flags and so on. There was a wire fence around the pitch and netting attached between the top of the fence and the top of the roof over the stadium seating/terraces - to prevent things being thrown onto the pitch, I assume.

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The standard of football was good, quite pacy and exciting; Emelec won 3-0 and you should have seen the reaction when each goal was scored. Some people climbed up the wire fence in celebration; the volume of the band and of the fans' singing and chanting, which was already loud, exploded; everybody who wasn't already standing up jumped to their feet; massive flags were waved behind each goal. Other flags were waved all the way through the match.

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The atmosphere was great all the way through, just like I had hoped it would - very passionate but without any violence or other trouble.

Posted by 3Traveller 02:37 Archived in Ecuador Tagged football buses ecuador guayaquil Comments (0)

Carnival, Day 4: Return through the Andes

Baños and Guayaquil

Edit from January 2019: Our hostel was called Great Hostel, or Great Hostels Backpackers Los Pinos. I thought it just as great as its name! Only given 76% on Hostelbookers, but if the place anything like how it was five years ago, it's worth a lot higher than that and I definitely recommend it.

We didn't do much this morning apart from have a bit of a lie in, pack, check out and move into the reception/internet/TV/bar area with our stuff. We also said goodbye to the hostel dogs.

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Inside the common area 'M' and I had a couple of games of pool on the free pool table before having some food at the bar with two of the others. I had pasta bolognese, the first time I've had bolognese sauce in Ecuador.

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After lunch I set off for the bus terminal to get back to Guayaquil, taking some more photos of town on the way. I got one of the basilica, one of a park and one of the taffy-makers doing their thing.

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The others had bought their tickets in advance - I hadn't bought mine then as well because I thought I was going to go back via the little town of Guaranda and the others were going direct. Plus their tickets were for 5 pm and I needed an earlier bus. I didn't actually go back via Guaranda because I realised I wouldn't have time, plus I would have had to change buses at Ambato and I didn't want a repeat of the hassle I'd had yesterday evening.

At the bus terminal I took the opportunity to try some sugar cane sticks and juice! I had the juice as soon as I bought it but saved the sticks for the journey.

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At the terminal there are lots of little ticket offices run by different companies (it's the same at the bus terminal of every other place I've been to in Ecuador) so I bought a ticket to Guayaquil from pretty much the first I came to. My bus left at 2.30 pm and the journey was rather uneventful apart from the spectacular scenery we passed...

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...and a Carnival water-throwing incident. Two or three men were waiting by the side of the road with buckets of water and as we passed by them they threw the water as hard as they could - luckily this happened on the opposite side to me so I didn't get wet. One of the windows was open on that side so the girls sitting in the seats next to it got soaked! They seemed to take it in good part, though.

We arrived at Guayaquil bus station between 8.30 and 9 pm. After waiting unsuccessfully for quite a while for the right bus to Alborada Sexta, I admitted defeat, realised that they had most probably stopped running for the night and took a taxi instead.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:56 Archived in Ecuador Tagged basilica hostel buses carnival banos andes ecuador guayaquil Comments (0)

Carnival, Day 3: Bus frustrations and a night out in Baños

Ambato and Baños


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

After leaving the main square in Ambato I realised that time was getting on and I really needed to get on the bus back to Baños before it got dark. It turned out there are three bus terminals in Ambato and the one I needed to go to was not on the Ambato map in my guidebook. Luckily I quickly found a local bus which said it went to the right terminal... it went back to the roundabout where I'd arrived originally, so I got off there, but I couldn't find the terminal anywhere. I walked around for ages looking. How I wished I had a smartphone!

Never mind, I thought, I'll just get on a Baños - bound bus going in the opposite direction to the one that dropped me off earlier; however this thought turned out to be futile. I stood around for a really long time, feeling increasingly apprehensive because it had got dark quickly and the area didn't look the safest, and stressed because none of the Baños buses would stop for me! There was only one every 20 minutes or so. In the end I gave up and flagged down an official-looking taxi. It cost $20 for the hour's journey to Baños but by that point I didn't care, I just wanted to get back!

Once I finally arrived back I had only twenty minutes or so before we went on our night out. We went to an Irish bar called 'Leprechaun' that had a large courtyard with a bonfire in a stone container in the middle. Every now and then the waitresses would go up and throw pieces of wood onto it to keep it going. Some of us had some food; I had chunks of juicy, tasty medium-cooked steak, grilled slices of red, green and yellow pepper, baby potatoes, some barbecue sauce (which I passed on to someone else) and mayonnaise with drizzles of tomato sauce on it.

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After a while we went inside to the dancefloor and apart from a trip upstairs at one point to have a sit-down and get some fresh air on the balcony, we danced almost nonstop for about three hours until the place closed. Although the place was an Irish bar and had quite a few foreign tourists in it, there also seemed to be a lot of locals or local tourists. The DJ only spoke Spanish and although several Western songs I mostly didn't recognise were played for the first hour after we arrived, then the music changed to salsa. All the Ecuadorians around me started dancing specific salsa steps. Luckily there were others who were dancing in a general way apart from me, so I didn't feel too shown up at not knowing how to dance salsa... ;-) Then after a while the music changed again and 'E' leaned forward and told me it was merengue.

The only drink I bought was a Pisco Sour and very appropriate it felt too, for the contrasting flavours of lime juice, pisco and sugar combined with the Latin music and the flashing coloured lights dappling the darkened dancefloor to create quite a heady, energised atmosphere and a thrill that I recognised from the atmosphere at the nightclub in Montañita I went to last June after the Queen's birthday party hosted for expats by the British Consulate.

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We did flag a bit by the end and I had to sit down for a while because my feet had started to hurt. After all the Latin music, the last couple of pieces before the place closed were Western. We left at either two or three a.m. and walked back to the hostel.

Posted by 3Traveller 13:35 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties hostel buses carnival salsa cocktails banos andes ecuador ambato Comments (0)

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