A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about extreme weather

Mum is here!

Guayaquil

I could hardly wait until the evening, when Mum was due to arrive! Somehow I got through the day until finally it was time for me to go to the airport to go to the hotel with her. However, this stage did not go quite as planned due to the monsoon rain that descended just when I needed it least.

It was in full swing when I left the language school. I'd intended to get a bus to the airport, but as soon as I caught sight of the torrential rainfall I asked reception if they could call me a taxi instead; however apparently no taxis were available at all, so I had to fall back on the buses. I've seldom seen rain so hard anywhere! I waited at the side of the road for the bus and although I had a small umbrella with me and my Bolivian coat on, my rucksack and I still got soaked. Due to the rain, everyone was in their cars instead, which resulted in the roads being gridlocked...

I ended up at Grand Hotel Guayaquil in the city centre (where Mum and I were booked for the next two nights), via four bus journeys, the bus terminal and a frantic wade through flooded streets, without having made it to the airport at all. I'd been foiled by a combination of the weather and the correct buses not running. Luckily I had already arranged the free hotel shuttle to pick up Mum from the airport, so although I wasn't able to use the shuttle with her like I'd planned to, at least she still got to the hotel OK.

It was wonderful to see her once I arrived, as I'm sure you can all imagine! She gave me a lovely little cloth with a turtle shape raised in the middle, which she'd knitted on the long plane journey; I've since put it out on show on my desk at the flat.

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We had some dinner at one of the hotel's main café/restaurant but I've forgotten what we ate. It felt a great novelty to me to be staying in a hotel in Guayaquil, and a really nice hotel at that.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel buses mum ecuador guayaquil extreme_weather Comments (0)

Botanical garden, music & a crystal palace

Guayaquil

I made this trip into the city centre because I had realised that although I had been all the way to the end of the Malecon in one direction before, I hadn't yet been to the other. I saw on Google Maps that not only is there a market there but also a 'crystal palace' - I couldn't believe I hadn't ever got round to checking them out before! I remember seeing part of the 'crystal palace' on the waterfront from the ferry on my trip to Isla Santay last September and thinking 'I wonder what that building's for'.

The first thing I did in town, however, after buying a bottle of Coca-Cola Light to get change from a tenner, was have lunch at the same restaurant I had lunch at for the first time last Sunday; 'La Barca Azul'. There are no menus on the tables, like most places open for lunch; only a whiteboard outside and in this case, a row of pictures and captions on the wall inside. Last time I had a lovely goat stew (seco de chivo) with rice where the meat was so tender it fell off the bone, so this time I thought I'd try something else to see if the general standard had been a one-off or not. So I tried seco de gallina instead, despite not knowing what 'gallina' meant (hen, as it turned out); also very good.

After lunch I did something else I'd also done on Sunday; I walked round the botanic gardens in the Malecon. This time I'd brought my camera with me because I regretted not bringing it last time. As I walked up to the bridge across the 'moat' surrounding the entrance to the garden I saw a man in a blue council outfit standing in the water up to his chest, throwing white powder out of a bucket. Bizarre. Maybe some kind of water treatment?

Anyway, once I got into the gardens it was really pleasant to walk round. Colourful flowers, exotic scents and birdsong, the unmistakeable subtropical air.

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I exited at the far end and walked back down the Malecon. As I passed by where I'd entered I saw that the man was still in the water throwing whiteness around, only this time he'd mixed some water in with the powder.

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Soon after that I heard some band music playing in the distance ahead. This turned out to be the Metropolitan Police band, though I've no idea why they were playing. The only public holiday in January here is New Year's Day. It was a brass and wind band. One chap was playing a massive white sousaphone that curled round his back and rested on his shoulder. When rested on the ground it was very nearly as tall as he was.

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They were playing next to the La Rotonda Monument, which represents the meeting of the two famous South American liberators, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, in Guayaquil 1822.

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After listening for a while I carried on to the end of the Malecon I hadn't been to before. On my way down I noticed that there was an awful lot of riverweed floating in the River Guayas.

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It was extremely hot and sunny by now so I was glad to walk through the little air-conditioned shopping centre on the way.

The crystal palace turned out not to be quite as big and grand as the name suggests, and was also empty - I couldn't work out what it is actually used for - but still looked quite impressive. There was a plaza on each side and these connected through a massive archway through the middle of the building.

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There were a few hole-in-the-wall market stalls around the the sides of the left plaza but most were shuttered down - clearly not a market day. I thought I might as well leave having a look round them properly until it is! The area was so pleasant in the sunshine next to the river that I was still glad I'd come.

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Posted by 3Traveller 12:53 Archived in Ecuador Tagged birds botanical_gardens ecuador guayaquil malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine extreme_weather river_guayas Comments (0)

Gorgeous Cuenca

Cuenca

Today my intention was to visit the Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas, a small museum contained within a working convent of cloistered nuns, and also the Museo de Arte Moderno, which is in a building that used to be an mental institution and is very highly regarded. Unfortunately I was let down by my guidebook which had told me both were open on Sundays, because neither were in reality. Never mind - I will definitely be coming back to Cuenca so I'll visit them then instead.

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Instead, I spent the day wandering around again, starting off with another visit to the 'new' cathedral for a look round. A service was in progress so I felt a bit self-conscious walking up and down the sides.

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When I came back outside I took some photos of the covered walkway in front of the cathedral and buildings next door, because there were some stalls selling candles and icons and other religious things.

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I also saw some stalls with a pile of what looked like brightly coloured ice cream on a slab of marble, so I tried an ice cream cone of that. I thought it must either be ice cream (which was why they were in the shade) or fluffy marshmallow mixture, so although I'm not desperately keen on fluffy marshmallow, I thought I'd take a risk. Of course it did turn out to be marshmallow, and was so incredibly sickly sweet that I only just managed to finish it, despite being starving hungry. My fault for not asking before buying, though!

I simply had to have some actual ice cream after that, to take the taste of marshmallow away as well as to cool myself down, so I got one from an ice cream shop. Then I walked through a handicrafts and clothes market in the square next to the church of San Francisco, and the flower market next door.

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I didn't buy any handicrafts or clothes, reasoning that I will buy stuff like that the next time I come here, but I did buy two massive, sweet and juicy chunks of pineapple on sticks for $1 each.

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I had a quick look around the religious museum that is inside the now-deconsecrated 'Old' cathedral, but there wasn't that much there. There were some interesting black and white photographs of Cuenca and other parts of Ecuador in the 19th and early 20th centuries, though.

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I went on an open-topped bus tour of the city in the afternoon - the first tourist bus tour I have ever been on. The commentary was very fast which wasn't ideal, but it was nice to get a higher viewpoint of the city. A lot of the buildings date from the revolutionary period and have distinctive balconies in the French Baroque style.

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The tour also included a stop 4km away at a great lookout point over the city:

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After taking photos at this lookout point I wandered around a corner or two and discovered a shrine/grotto hidden away, set into the side of the hill:

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On the journey back to the city centre we drove through a street in the new part of town which had several shops with whole pigs rotating on spits outside them.

It had just started to spit with rain on the way back to the city centre, and as I walked back to my hostel the rain suddenly became torrential.

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After a lie down for a couple of hours, however, I went back out for dinner and although the sun had gone down the sky was pretty clear. I went to a pizza place for dinner, not having had any pizza at all since I arrived in Ecuador in May. I ordered some yucca fries as well. When the pizza arrived it was so large I couldn't finish it, so they put the last slice into a doggy bag for me. I decided to take it back to Guayaquil with me the next day and use the language school's microwave to heat it up for lunch (I don't have a microwave in my flat).

Posted by 3Traveller 11:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged market museum hostel andes ecuador cuenca explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine extreme_weather colonial_church Comments (0)

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