A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about football

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


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

Ecuador's World Cup passion


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Friday 20th June

A delayed flight back to Guayaquil in the morning.


Once we got back to the flat we rested for a little bit and then I took Dave into my place of work to show him around. We said hello to everyone who was there, looked round most of the classrooms not in use at the time and then watched the first half of Ecuador's second group round World Cup match against Honduras in the lobby area with some of my colleagues and a couple of students.

At half time we walked back to the flat. Nearly every shop we passed either had the match showing on a TV on a wall inside, or on TVs set up on the street outside the front of their shops. Ecuador ended up winning 2-1, giving them a chance still to qualify for the next round despite having lost their first match.


Tonight was Dave's last night in Ecuador so we went out for dinner at an Ecuadorian steak and grill restaurant down the road. On the way there we passed through noisy, excited, happy, colourful crowds of Ecuadorians waving flags and celebrating their win.


Once we got to the restaurant Dave wanted a photo of the rifle-holding security guard before we walked in, but the guy told him kindly that it wasn't allowed. I had a massive juicy steak and Dave had some strips of beef or lamb in a reduced red wine sauce that he said was really good.


Saturday 21st June

Dave's flight was in the late afternoon so we went to a supermarket in the morning so he could do a little bit of last-minute shopping. We had some uninspiring pizza for lunch from a place round the corner; not somewhere I'd been to before and not one I think I'll bother returning to. Then Dave packed and we took a taxi together to the airport.

Posted by 3Traveller 17:36 Archived in Ecuador Tagged football airport dave ecuador guayaquil Comments (0)

Cotopaxi Volcano

Cotopaxi National Park and Quito

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A trek up part of Cotopaxi Volcano today. It was organised by our hostel and although absolutely exhausting, it was well worth it.

A minibus took us and three others to a parking area already up part of the mountain. We'd stopped at the entrance to the National Park; at the café I bought a cup of coca tea because I was starting to feel unwell due to altitude sickness. It helped a bit, thank goodness.


The first part of the trek was OK, if tiring. It had a steep incline but wasn't all that long. The ground was a very fine gravel, so our feet sank into it. When we reached the top of this first part we turned and saw wonderful views over the rest of the National Park. The glacier above us was beautiful and awe-inspiring.


Dave stayed at this part, but I decided to carry on to the base lodge that was in the process of being built. I'd had to stop for the loo, because I was absolutely desperate, so the others in the group had already gone ahead of us. That second part of the trek was very difficult - in terms of sheer muscular exhaustion it was on par with the last hour of our trek up Ben Nevis in 2011. This was the view of the second part;


It didn't look all that far at the start, but that was misleading! I was struggling quite badly with altitude sickness by now - no nausea, luckily, just feeling quite lightheaded and off balance. My chest was hurting where I injured my rib in February last year and the back of my head hurt where it joins onto my neck. One of the guides was with me and she let me sit down and rest on rocks whenever I needed to, which helped. There were several moments where I considered turning back, but a voice in my head pushed me on. At one point a load of donkeys passed by me coming from the opposite direction.


And despite being physically one of the hardest things I've ever done, it was absolutely worth it. As soon as I reached the lodge I had my photo taken next to the signpost that said I was at 4864 metres altitude, then tottered over to a seat amongst the masonry at the front of the half-built lodge where two workers were busy working. It felt amazing to be so high up.


I had a enormously satisfying rest for five to ten minutes, along with a drink, before descending. The descent took about five minutes, making a mockery of how long it had taken me to get up there... a fast walk turned into a jog and then I was pushed by the slope into a run. Dave was watching from the bottom of this section, so he took a few photos of me coming down.

Then, after another little rest, we descended the first section together, at a walk. It was just us two along with the guide that had been with me on the second section. The others had carried on higher than the base lodge, to the edge of the glacier itself - this was an optional extra activity as part of the excursion - but Dave and I gave this a miss. By now I was starting to feel dizzy and sleepy and a headache was developing.

The three of us sat in the minibus waiting for the others to return. I started off in the front passenger seat but then I felt so bad I needed to lie down, so I moved to lying across the back seats and Dave took my seat at the front. The guide gave me an inflatable neck/head rest which helped make me more comfortable.


Thankfully, once the others had arrived back and we descended to the plains of the National Park, I started feeling much better. We stopped at a beautiful lake for a bit and then to a small café where we were given free cheese rolls and we could buy other things if we wanted to.


I wasn't hungry at all so I didn't have my roll, but I did get myself a hot chocolate and some Coke. Dave bought some coca boiled sweets, which we ate on the rest of our return journey.


We stopped again at the entrance/exit to the National Park. There was a TV playing the England vs. Italy World Cup group match - Italy were winning 1-0. It was just after half time. Just as we drew up to the hostel later on, the match finished. England had lost and were out of the World Cup.

As soon as we got back from Cotopaxi National Park I went to bed. I was feeling lightheaded and dizzy again and started throwing up. I had about four or five bouts of it. At around 6.30pm my engagement ring was delivered! - I couldn't get out of bed so Dave collected it from reception. It was just as beautiful as I expected.


I didn't have any dinner but Dave went out and had a similar mixed grill to the one he had at the Argentinian grillhouse a couple of days earlier.

Posted by 3Traveller 16:55 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains lakes football volcanoes hostel dave quito andes ecuador explorations ecuadorian_cuisine cotopaxi_national_park Comments (0)

Ecuadorian football match: Emelec vs. Liga de Quito


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.


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.


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)

Las Peñas and Cerro Santa Ana, Guayaquil


Last Sunday I made a third attempt to visit the Museum of Anthropology & Contemporary Art here in Guayaquil, but I was thwarted yet again by the powers that be. This time there was a notice on the door saying that it's closed for refurbishment but will open again soon. Very frustrating... at this rate I doubt I'll actually get inside the place until well after Christmas! Hopefully I will be proved wrong though.


After reading the notice I decided to do what I did the last time this happened - walk along nearby Las Peñas district first...


...and then climb the hill above it (Cerro Santa Ana). It was extremely hot; at least 35 degrees, if not more. The sky was cloudless so I knew the view would be great from the hilltop. This time I climbed up a series of zigzagging steps at the side of the hill, rather than the front way which seemed more touristy.


Then I climbed up more sets of steps and pathways, and passed by a little 5-a-side wire-fenced concrete football pitch right on the side of the hill next to the river; a match was going on and there were several supporters sprawled on the steps leading up to and above the pitch, cheering and chatting.


Once I reached the top I took photos of the old fort foundations, the chapel and lighthouse...


...as well as the fabulous views over the city.


On the main route down:


Posted by 3Traveller 03:14 Archived in Ecuador Tagged football museum ecuador guayaquil fortifications cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 Comments (0)

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