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Entries about flamingoes

Tropical animals, architecture of old Guayaquil

Guayaquil Historical Park


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Edit from January 2019: I forgot to mention this originally, but the Historical Park is free entry! It's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and is open 09:00 - 16:00 the rest of the week.

Parque Histórico Guayaquil lies on a peninsula that splits the Río Daule and Río Babahoyo before they converge to become the Río Guayas. It needs to be within quite a large area because is split into three zones; the Wildlife Zone, the Urban Architecture Zone and the Traditions Zone.

My colleague/ friend 'H' and I decided to go there together today because neither of us had been before, despite having wanted to for ages. I am starting to run out of weekends before I leave Ecuador...

The Wildlife Zone was first. It is split into the four forest ecosystems of the local Guayas province; Drizzle Forest, Tropical Dry Forest, Mangrove Forest and the Floodplain (Wetlands) Forest. As we wandered round, we saw lots of wildlife, some of them common but others critically endangered in the wild. The Guayaquil macaw is probably the most at risk of extinction; there are only about 90 breeding pairs left in the country. Aside from the parrots, my favourites were the harpy eagle, the horned screamer bird, the two-toed sloth, the tapirs, the collared peccary and the turtles.

In order, each row from left to right; peccary, chestnut-fronted macaw, more chestnut-fronted macaws, scarlet macaws, flamingo, green parrots, horned screamer, more horned screamers and flamingoes, more peccaries, two-toed sloths, Central American agouti, tapirs, mangrove forest, pond, caiman and more caimen;

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From there we followed the path into the Urban Architecture Zone, which brings together several important wooden buildings which were built in Guayaquil in the very late 19th and early 20th centuries, then dismantled and transferred to the Park in the 1980s. These buildings were mostly built directly after the great fire of 1896 which destroyed a lot of the old part of the city. Most of them were residential, belonging to locally important people, but one was the Territorial Bank and one was used by the Social Services as a hospital, complete with chapel.

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With all of these buildings, the upper storey is wider than the lower and is supported by columns. You see this basic set-up in the modern city centre; it makes a lot of sense in this climate. Shelter from the monsoon rain showers between January and April, shade from the scorching tropical sun throughout the rest of the year.

We were allowed to go inside some of the buildings, so we walked round one or two and admired the period furnishings and decoration.

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We liked the views out of the screen doors (which acted as windows on the upper floors), too. The combination of colourful wooden buildings, cobbled streets and original street lighting made it easy to picture the Guayaquil of the early 20th century. One exception to this was the plane we saw flying low over the river, coming in to land at the airport opposite!

We stopped for a snack and a drink at a collection of booths and tables in the square in front of the old Social Services building, then admired some tortoises crossing the path on our way into the Traditions Zone.

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This zone showcases the working life of rural, coastal people in Ecuador at the turn of the 20th century, when there was a boom in bananas, cacao and coffee. One group of people focused on is the Montubio, who to this day do a lot of ranching and hold rodeos, especially in Guayas province. The rodeo I went to last October in Salitre was a Montubio rodeo (you can read about this here). We looked round a colourful wooden landowner's house and a typical campesino (peasant) house made from wood, bamboo and wicker, admired a couple of peacocks and looked at aloe vera, cacti and many other aromatic, medicinal and edible plants within the ethnobotanical garden.

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I most definitely recommend this place if you are ever in Guayaquil and have half a day to spare away from the city centre!

Posted by 3Traveller 07:23 Archived in Ecuador Tagged birds turtles museum parrots botanical_gardens ecuador sloth flamingoes peacocks explorations guayaquil_historical_park peccary horned_screamers tapirs harpy_eagle central_american_agouti caimen traditional_customs Comments (0)

Galápagos Islands: Isabela (Abermarle)

Galápagos Islands

For breakfast we boiled the rest of the special sausages we'd had some of the night before (we didn't have any oil or a grill, so couldn't fry or grill them) and we had half of them - I made sausage sandwiches with the other half for us to have later for lunch.

Then we hung around in the reception area of our hostel while Dave checked his email to find out when we were getting picked up by the G Adventures representative. He didn't have any emails, though, so he and the hostel owner (who was incredibly nice and helpful all round) went down the road to the tour office to speak to them face to face. They came back having found out the required information (we had to meet at the port, it turned out) and so we hung around for a while longer before getting a taxi to the port with all our stuff.

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Before we set off for the port, we did a little bit of shopping in town. On the way in we passed a fish stall next to the waterfront with lots of pelicans and a sealion crowded round it. We stopped to watch for a bit before moving on.

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We both bought a t-shirt for ourselves and I also got myself a carved wooden tortoise ornament and a woven 'Galapagos' friendship bracelet to go with the ones I bought in Peru five years ago. I also did a little bit of secret shopping.

At the port we had to have our bags checked for fruit, vegetables, seeds and other plant material, because quite understandably the Ecuadorians are very keen for there to be no cross-contamination between different islands. Then the tour company representative met us and we also met up with the other couple who we were going to be with on all our activities on Isabela Island for the following three days. This was a recently retired American couple, Bud and Gale, who until recently had been living in the US Virgin Islands for 20 years. They were both really nice and friendly.

The tour representative put us on a water taxi which took us to the speedboat that took us to Isabela Island. The crossing took between two and three hours and the word 'rough' to describe the sea would have to be the understatement of the year... both Dave and I had never experienced anything like it! Even the Cork - Swansea ferry journey I took with the rugby club at uni pales in comparison. Some of the others were sick, but neither Dave or I were. Dave was fine actually because he'd taken a tablet against motion sickness an hour before the journey, which worked a treat, and I didn't feel sick, only a little dizzy due to the horizon going up and down through the window so much. The jolting of the boat pitching so much meant I didn't get any sleep, though I did try.

As soon as we arrived and I felt the fresh air on my face I stopped feeling dizzy and I felt really excited instead... days of adventure and new experiences were ahead! We were met by the tour guide, Ricardo, and got into the open-sided truck which would be taking us from place to place during the next few days.

We were taken to our hotel, Hotel San Vicente, where we dumped our stuff and got changed before going out with Bud, Gale and two German girls on our first excursion... a flamingo lagoon! Ricardo told us lots of interesting information about the flamingoes and the lagoon. We both love flamingoes so it was wonderful to see them.

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The water in the lagoon is brackish, both salt and fresh mixed together, which is why the flamingoes are there.The lagoon was manmade a few decades ago (before the Galápagos became a National Park) when locals quarried for basalt to use as a building material. Once they dug deep enough for water to come through, they had to stop quarrying and they just left the crater as it was. Then the flamingoes moved in. We saw the flamingoes doing their funny 'dance', not a dance at all but a process to stir up the mud to make the tiny crustaceans they feed on to come to the surface. Ricardo also showed us a lava gull that appeared. We were there for a while but then it became dusky and few drops of rain appeared, so we went back to the hotel. We rested until dinner, which was at 7.

Dinner was lovely - yuca, potato and vegetable soup as a starter, a great big slab of fresh fish with white sauce, rice and vegetables for the main and a very thick fruity mixture (like yoghurt with holes in it, but a bit more gooey) for pudding. We had a glass of juice each as well. Ricardo appeared after a while and briefed us about the next day; we had to be ready to leave the hotel at 8.50 the next morning.

We played some cards after dinner - five rounds of 10-card rummy (Dave won overall) - before going back to our room, having showers and downloading photos from our cameras onto my laptop and Dave's USB pen.

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Posted by 3Traveller 16:29 Archived in Ecuador Tagged lakes birds pelicans coast hotel dave ecuador sealions galapagos_islands flamingoes explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

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