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World Cup Final, leaving drinks and my last day at work

Guayaquil


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Earlier today we all met up at someone's flat to watch the World Cup Final and have a barbecue buffet at the same time. Germany was my seeded team in the teachers' World Cup sweepstake, so I ended up winning $50! Thanks Germany!

Yesterday evening I went out for my leaving drinks with my now-ex colleagues. We started off at Arthur's Café in Las Peñas. Although the food took a long time to arrive, it was good, and we had a fantastic view of the river and the lights of Guayaquil round the curve of the bay. A supermoon was out and we also caught sight of the Captain Morgan ship (which turns into an all-you-can-drink floating bar on weekend nights) sailing up and down.

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From Arthur's Bar we climbed to the top of Cerro Santa Ana next door, going up the steep steps and paths round the side and back of the hill rather than the main ones at the front. My idea was to take some photos from the terrace at the top before stopping in at different bars on the way down. I remembered the only time I had tried to do this on a night out before, the terrace turned out to be closed to the public after midnight, so I was keen to get to it before then this time around.

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To my joy, when we got to the terrace the lighthouse was still open, so I climbed to the top of that and took in the amazing views of the terrace and chapel directly below me and then spread out before me the lights of the city, the bridge joining Guayaquil with Daule and the darkness of the River Guayas and Isla Santay.

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The upside to the often oppressive year-round hot and humid daytime temperature of Guayaquil is that after dark, even in the middle of the night, it is never ever even the slightest bit too cold. Permanent t-shirt weather. The humidity goes down and when there's a bit of a breeze going, like there was tonight at the top of the hill, it is pleasantly balmy. Although I was happy and having a great time with the rest of the group, at the same time it felt slightly poignant at the top of the lighthouse because I knew it was almost certainly the last time I'd be in that position with this view.

From the upper terrace we moved on to the lower one and found seats outside on the terrace of the wooden Puerto Pirata bar, 'the pirate ship'. We spent quite a while there, with the lighthouse looking over us, before we moved on down the hill.

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We stopped at a succession of small quirkily decorated bars, including one where I saw two dressed-up clowns in full makeup sitting in a corner having a drink together (!). Our final stop was slightly bigger bar with a dancefloor we took advantage of for a while before heading home in taxis.

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On Friday 11th I had my last teaching session; my Friday class of public sector English teachers from 5 - 9 pm. It was quite touching at the end because the students were all really nice, despite the fact that I've only had them for three once-a-week classes. One of them even said "you're a best teacher!" (sic)... during the break halfway through the lesson, one of them (who is a head teacher, out of interest) told me she loved the activities in class because they were funny... I wasn't 100% certain what she meant, because something I've noticed a lot of students do here is use the word 'funny' when what they mean is 'fun' - but I didn't think it quite appropriate to make her elaborate in that situation. I suppose it was still complimentary whether she meant 'enjoyable' or 'amusing'! I just smiled and said thank you and that it had been a pleasure for me to teach them, which is true.

It was an eventful class in other ways as well. Within the first hour I looked up at one point because I saw through the window out of the corner of my eye two people standing on the staircase outside the classroom looking down; standing there were two ex-students of mine that I had in FCE (First Certificate of English) prep classes on Saturdays until I went on holiday with Dave! It looked like they really wanted to speak to me, so I put my head outside the door to have a quick word. They seemed startlingly excited to see me. It turned out that they were just about to take the speaking part of the FCE exam. A few encouraging words were in order before I returned to my class.

Not long after that, 'I' from receptionists/course co-ordinators came in with a phone to take some photos of me and the class to put on the school's Facebook page to commemorate the fact that it was my last teaching day here. After the official photos had been taken, some of the students made her take photos with their phones as well.

During the class I had them doing role plays to practise doing the different parts of the PET (Preliminary English Test) speaking test. Lots of moving chairs around and changing between being the examiner and one of the candidates. Hopefully they are a lot more aware now of what type of activity they have to do for each part, and how to do them.

I leave for Loja tomorrow; I won't be in Guayaquil again until the 24th.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:30 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties night football barbecue ecuador guayaquil explorations english_teaching cerro_santa_ana las_peñas Comments (0)

Dave's here!

Guayaquil


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Dave arrived late yesterday afternoon. He's here with me in Ecuador for three weeks of holiday... tomorrow we head off to the Galápagos Islands and once we return from there on Friday, we carry on to Cuenca, Baños and finally Quito. In Quito we're going to go on a couple of day trips to Otavalo Market and the hot springs at Papallacta.

I met Dave at the airport. I'd been following his flight on flightaware.com ever since I'd got back from my five-hour Saturday teaching stint in the morning. I knew his connection time in Amsterdam was tight so I did worry that he'd miss the plane to Guayaquil, but he made it thank goodness! We took a taxi to my new flat, rested for a bit and then joined in the barbecue that I and my flatmates and colleagues 'A' & 'T' had decided to put on. Many bottles of beer, pieces of chicken, sausages and steak & vegetable skewers were consumed, though neither Dave or I had any beer (Dave didn't feel like it due to feeling the jetlag a bit; I'm not keen on beer at any time).

This morning we had a lie-in. After getting up at about 10.30 we had some breakfast and took a bus two minutes down the road to the bank so that I could get out my rent money and also money for the Galápagos Islands; we could have walked, but it would have taken at least twenty minutes in the heat each way and I wanted us to preserve energy for later.

On our way to the bus stop I took this photo of Dave next to graffiti near my condo block - tribute to a photo I took of Dave in front of a similar wall in Santiago, Chile, on the day we arrived in South America on our round-the-world trip 5 years ago.

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An ice cream man passed us on our way down.

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Before we got another bus back again I bought Dave a bottle of chilled water from a bakery because he really needed one - he's finding the heat and humidity of Guayaquil quite hard to deal with so far.

We left the flat again at around midday and took a bus into town. We went to Iguana Square first, then a walk along half of the Malecón (including the botanical garden and a trip up one of the viewing towers over the river) to Las Peñas and Cerro Santa Ana.

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Dave has brought his DSLR camera with him to Ecuador and took it with him into town today, so he got some really good pictures of the iguanas, amongst other things.

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In Iguana Square the turtles had arranged themselves in a pile, which we both thought looked quite funny.

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At the Malecón I noticed that they have recently installed drinks vending machines, so I bought myself a Pepsi and Dave a bottle of water. Due to today being a Sunday, the Malecón was absolutely packed.

It was cloudy by now so it wasn't as hot as it could have been, but it was still pretty humid. We both got extremely hot and sweaty climbing up Cerro Santa Ana. Before climbing the hill I made sure to get a photo of Dave underneath the 'Barrio Las Peñas' plaque.

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Dave took some photos from the terraces at the top with his DSLR.

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Before we descended the hill I bought us another cold drink each from one of the metal-grilled shops that are so common in Ecuador.

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On the way back to the flat we stopped at a supermarket and I got a 5-litre bottle of water for Dave for 82 cents and a litre of Fanta Naranja for myself. Whatever we don't drink today we'll save for when we get back from the Galápagos Islands on Friday.

After a rest for a couple of hours we headed out and had some dinner at one of the Lebanese shawarma places nearby, before going on to a morocho café. Morocho is a delicious Ecuadorian pudding that I only discovered a couple of weeks ago - it's a lot like rice pudding but made with a certain type of white corn, broken up, instead of rice. The taste and texture is a lot like rice though. They even add a little bit of cinnamon to it. It's amazing! I can't believe I never came across it before. Dave loved it, like I guessed he would.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:31 Archived in Ecuador Tagged airport buses botanical_gardens dave iguanas barbecue ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine river_guayas Comments (0)

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)

Guayaquil explorations with Mum

Guayaquil

In the morning I was working but Mum went out and explored the cathedral, Iguana Square and some shops nearby.

When I got back we had some lunch at the hotel and then we walked to the Malecón and went along that, passing through the botanic garden on the way...

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...until we got to the big Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art. We only had time for a look round one of the exhibitions; it was really interesting because it had lots of examples of zoomorphic pottery, incredibly well preserved considering that many of them are thousands of years old. All different types of animals were represented. I had seen examples of these before in Cuenca, Santa Elena and at the Municipal Museum in Guayaquil, but Mum hadn't seen anything like them before, so they were all new to her.

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After this we carried on another 100 meters or so to Las Peñas, where we looked at the colonial buildings there...

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...before climbing up the side of Cerro Santa Ana until we got to the top.

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Mum was desperate for an ice cream by then so I bought us an ice lolly each from an ice cream seller with a coolbox who was sitting at the bottom of the last flight of steps; $1.25 for two. I had a chocolate one and Mum had a guanabana one - lovely. We took some photos from the terrace first.

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The little lighthouse was open so we climbed up to the top for an even better view - a policeman said we would have to pay $1 to take pictures, but we think he was just trying to scam us because he could see we were foreigners. We saw a local take a picture with her phone and the guy never stopped her. I managed to take a quick picture on the sly, however, without being caught.

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On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a cafe for a drink - Mum ordered some tea but she did not like it at all - apparently the same thing happened in Barcelona a few years back! Then we stopped at a supermarket so that she could buy some fruit, stopped at a pharmacy a bit later to get some suncream, and finally got back to the hotel feeling knackered but satisfied.

We had dinner at a restaurant on the ground floor of a different hotel nearby. I had seco de chivo and Mum had shrimp ceviche.

When we got back to the hotel we wandered round taking some night time photos of the courtyard, including the pool, the giant iguana statue and the back of the cathedral that made up one of the courtyard walls.

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Posted by 3Traveller 06:18 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel museum cathedral botanical_gardens mum ceviche ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine pre_columbian_artifacts Comments (0)

Sushi, cocktails and a beautiful view

Guayaquil

This is about a great night out I had last night with some of the other teachers.

It started at Restaurante Sushi Isao in Urdesa district.

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When we arrived we were given a free mixture of tuna, raw carrot, one or two unidentifiable raw vegetables and a delicious white sauce. We asked what was in the sauce but were told that the recipe was a secret! Four of us then shared a boat platter - it came piled with 54 lovely pieces of sushi. It was only $46! I tried various different kinds with different seafood - tuna, salmon, eel, another type of fish of which I didn't find out the name, and crabstick. The eel was brown and had a sweetish yet savoury sauce on it. One type of sushi came cased in a very light tempura batter, (which worked very well) and most of the nori roll types (with the seaweed casing) had a chunk or two of avocado in the middle as well as fish and a white type of sauce. I don't know whether it's common or not to have avocado in sushi in Japan - if not then I suppose this was the Ecuadorian touch.

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After Isao we got a taxi to Las Peñas district and had a couple of cocktails at a small but very colourful karaoke bar at the foot of the long steps up Cerro Santa Ana. The inside walls were painted orange and blue and had framed photos of Guayaquil from the turn of the 20th century hanging on them.

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At bars in Guayaquil, or the ones I've been to at any rate, there's always waiter service; you don't go up to the bar yourself. The karaoke microphone was passed around from table to table, but none of our group had a go. They were all Latin American songs. I had an 'Alexander' cocktail, one of the most delicious cocktails I've ever had in my life - brandy, coffee liqueur, condensed milk and crushed ice, with a cocktail cherry.

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After that I had a White Russian, which was also nice but tasted slightly bland having come just after the incredibly tastebud-grabbing Alexander cocktail.

E had told me about a famous bohemian bar next door with a live band, so I was keen to go there next. E and I went while the others carried on up Cerro Santa Ana (to a bar where they were to meet up with W and a friend of his). However, when we tried to enter we were told we had to pay $5 entry fee, so since I only had about $8 on me and I wanted to save it for another drink or two, plus E didn't want to pay it either, we caught up with the others instead.

The bar we were in now was also very small, tiny in fact, and being further up the hill, had an amazing view of the city lights below. The others stuck to beers, but I fancied another cocktail. The only cocktails the guy had came from bottles of pre-mixed stuff, but I had a piña colada anyway. I swear there was no pineapple juice in it at all, and there was no ice. It was so thick and gloopy that I didn't actually like it very much. But the atmosphere and view made up for it!

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Some of us carried on to the top of the hill to see the views over the whole city at night, but the entrance to the plaza was gated off. The security guard behind it told us it gets locked at midnight. I took one or two photos anyway but couldn't get high enough to get views in every direction.

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We went home after this - I arrived back at 2.40 am, so had a nice lie-in this morning before catching a bus to Urdesa to take up D & A's invitation to swim in their pool. It was typically hot, at least 32-33 degrees, so it was wonderful to get in the water.

Posted by 3Traveller 04:14 Archived in Ecuador Tagged night cocktails ecuador guayaquil cerro_santa_ana las_peñas sushi_isao Comments (0)

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