A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about guayaquil

Further explorations of Guayaquil: Monuments and iguanas


On Saturday I decided to go back into town and try to get into the Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, because it was closed when I went the Sunday before. I finished teaching at 13.00, so my plan was to go straight back to my flat to change, dump my rucksack, get my camera and then catch a bus all the way into town in order to get a nice long look round the museum until it closed at 17.30.

My plan was scuppered, however, when I arrived at the museum only to find it was closed again! This time there were notices on the doors apologising for the inconvenience caused, but no reasons were given for the closure. I think it may have been because to one side there was a small stage and some stalls set up for some Ecuador Post event going on with music blaring from loudspeakers.

I'd walked along the Malecon to get there, like last week, passing one of the major monuments on it: La Rotonda. This commemorates a famous meeting between Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, two of the liberators of Spanish South America from Spain, in 1822.


This time there were many more piles of riverweed floating down the river than there are normally.


The botanical garden was out of bounds for me again, this time because it had temporarily been turned into a prehistoric-themed children's park, complete with plastic dinosaurs and mammoth.

After this I decided that instead of going straight home again, I'd go for a walk along Avenida 9 de Octubre, the main street, until I got to Parque Centenario. I hadn't walked along that way before. On the way to the park I came across a plaza containing Guayaquil's first public monument, a statue of Ecuador's first native president. At one side is Iglesia San Francisco, originally built in the early 18th century but then destroyed in the massive fire of 1896. It was reconstructed in 1902.


Although as a result of this it doesn't look very old inside, along the walls there are lots of beautifully painted shrines.


I wandered round and took some pictures, but then lots of well-dressed people came in and an event started. It sounded like a special children's event, maybe the start of a confirmation service (though it was a Saturday, not a Sunday), though it sounded too informal for that really. There were just a few families there. Members of the public were still allowed to wander around, but I started to feel like I was intruding a bit so I left.

Parque Centenario was lovely and green, and the sun was out most of the time, so I took some more photos.


After I'd had a look round, I decided to say hello to the iguanas again in Parque Bolívar ('Iguana Square') 5-10 minutes' walk away, so that's where I headed next. I took some photos and also two videos of them, before going inside the metropolitan cathedral which is on one side of the square. As soon as I'd finished one video, I looked up and saw some more iguanas in the branches above me, so I took another shorter video of them. The square was packed with locals; icecream and water sellers wandered around.


Like Iglesia San Francisco, the original cathedral was destroyed by fire; the present one was built in 1948. The front entrance is quite ornate, but the inside is pretty simple. There are some stained glass windows high up, though. A big service was just starting so I didn't linger too long, though I did take some photos. The service was being shown on lots of mini flat TV screens - one was attached to every main column in the nave.


The municipal museum is close to Iguana Square, but closes at 14.00 on Saturdays so I couldn't go in. It has some interesting collections, apparently, so I will definitely go there sooner rather than later!

Posted by 3Traveller 03:01 Archived in Ecuador Tagged cathedral iguanas ecuador iglesia_san_francisco guayaquil explorations malecon_2000 parque_centenario guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra avenida_9_de_octubre river_guayas Comments (0)

Guayaquil Explorations

Guayaquil: A day as a tourist rather than a working resident.

On Sunday I decided to explore a bit more of the city and be more of a tourist than I have been so far. I've been meaning to do this for ages but never seemed to have the time until now. My plan was to get off the bus halfway along the Malecon 2000 (a riverside 2km-long gated walkway with monuments, trees, childrens' playgrounds, snack stalls, lookout towers, a little shopping mall and a couple of other things) and walk along it to the top end, where there's the Cultural Centre. This includes the Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, which has an excellent reputation. I love anthropology museums and also wanted to see all the art. After going to the museum, my plan was to carry on past the top end of the Malecon into the colonial district of Las Peñas, explore that and then climb Cerro Santa Ana. Las Peñas is at the foot of the hill.

Before I left the flat I watched Andy Murray win the first two sets of the Wimbledon final, but had to leave after that because the guidebooks said the museum was only open until 3.30, I didn't want to rush walking along the Malecon beforehand, and I knew the bus journey would be quite long to begin with.

I had to change buses here, opposite the regional government building. This is where I had to go to register my visa within 30 days of arrival in Ecuador.


I'd noticed on the map that there's a botanical garden on the Malecon, but when I walked past it I saw it was taped off and inside it someone was doing some gardening. Hopefully when I go back next Friday or Saturday it will be open again.


Unfortunately, once I got to the museum I realised my guidebooks had let me down - the doors were locked, yet Lonely Planet and Rough Guides had assured me that the museum was open on Sundays between 11 am - 3.30 pm. Typical. I could have stayed to watch the rest of the Wimbledon final after all, instead of rushing out of the door after two sets!


I didn't dwell on my misfortune for long, however, because I was really keen to see Las Peñas and Santa Ana. The sun came out every now and then and was really hot, about 30 degrees I reckon, which I've heard is the same in some parts of the UK at present! Las Peñas is tiny, just one street in fact, but is filled with artists' studios and shops.


It was very picturesque and colourful, like I imagined. (Most of Guayaquil was destroyed by fire and earthquakes on two or three occasions over the centuries, so has few colonial buildings left. Las Peñas is the exception. Santa Ana also has lots of colonial style buildings but these were recreated as part of a regeneration project.) There were lots of local tourists about.


After I'd wandered along the street and back again, I climbed up the hill next to it, Cerro Santa Ana. There are over 400 steps to the top, and on each side there are houses and little shops and restaurants and side streets.

4d903860-100c-11e9-a032-fb7b7b902a8d.JPG 4d905f70-100c-11e9-8b3c-c9fd0dca4ba4.JPGIMG_7599.JPG

At the top there is a plaza with cannons, a little chapel and a lighthouse, and directly below that there are the foundations of the fortress of San Carlos, built in 1629 to defend the city from pirate attacks. Next to it is a recreation of a pirate ship, half of which is a bar. I got incredibly hot and sweaty on my way to the top. I was glad I'd brought water!


The lighthouse was closed for maintenance purposes so I couldn't climb up it, but there was still a brilliant view from the terrace - I could see over nearly all of Guayaquil and beyond. I took several photos and also a video. I also had a look inside the little chapel and ate my second tuna mayonnaise and iceberg lettuce roll sitting on a bench outside (I'd had the first one at the Malecon before I got to the museum).


After coming back down again and walking back along the Malecon for a bit I briefly considered going to say hello to the iguanas again in the centre of town, but I decided I was too tired for that and caught the bus back instead.

Despite the museum being closed, which meant my day out was shorter than I'd planned, I still had a great time. Las Peñas is very picturesque and the view from the top of Cerro Santa Ana is well worth seeing. I'm definitely going to go back to the museum as soon as possible, and several people have said I must go to Las Peñas after dark because the bars are really good fun, unique in atmosphere due to the amount of artists who live in the district. The bar in the pirate ship reconstruction near to the top of Cerro Santa Ana has also been recommended to me. I think a teachers' outing to the pirate ship and Las Peñas will not be too long in coming!

Posted by 3Traveller 01:45 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art buses ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 Comments (0)

Guayaquil update


Apologies if this post seems disjointed or not very interesting; it's not about any one particular topic, but things I've thought about at different times since I arrived in Guayaquil.

Maybe it's because I’m surrounded by an atmosphere of language learning (I'm learning Spanish at the same time as teaching English), but I often find phrases of languages I learned at school popping into my head, or I get flashbacks to moments in the lessons themselves. For example, in the free taxi we get home if we finish teaching after dark I often have to stop myself saying 'gehe gerade aus, bitte' to the driver after we’ve been round the roundabout and I want him to go straight on for a bit before turning at my corner. Last week I was sitting on a bus when all of a sudden the phrase 'Was hast du lechte Wochenende gemacht?' came into my head – 'what did you do last weekend?’. I keep wanting to say 'aber' instead of 'pero', 'sehr' instead of 'muy', 'je suis' instead of 'yo soy' or 'yo estoy'.

Speaking of school, it feels strange to think that it's exactly ten years since I finished my A2 Levels. To think I had no idea then that in ten years' time I'd be doing what I am doing, and on the other side of the world at that... It also feels strange to picture myself in Year 7, choosing to start learning German in Year 8 instead of Spanish, unaware that in the future I would end up starting to learn Spanish anyway, albeit Ecuadorian Spanish rather than the Spanish from Spain.

Although I don’t get much time to read non work-related books, I have got through a couple. I'm trying not to zip through my collection too quickly though because there are not many places in Guayaquil that sell books in English, and I couldn't bring that many with me in the first place due to my luggage weight allowance. I've read/ reread a couple of Joseph Mitchell books – 'McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon', wonderful in itself, and 'My Ears Are Bent'- and Charles Darwin’s 'Journal of the Voyage of The Beagle', which is absolutely fascinating (apart from occasionally when he goes off into detailed descriptions of geological formations - I skip those). Now I’m onto 'Andes' by Michael Jacobs. I wholeheartedly recommend all four, although in the latter I've only got as far as the bit where the author crosses into Colombia from Venezuela (he travels the length of the Andes from Venuezela to Argentina, following in the footsteps of Simon Bolivár). Once I finish this then I think it'll be the turn of one of my favourite books of all time, Laurie Lee’s 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'.

Some teachers here have been following the whole Edward Snowden incident with interest, keeping up to date with his location and wondering if he will end up in Ecuador or not. I have to say that although I do wonder if he´ll make it to Ecuador or not, I have more interest in the situation of Nelson Mandela. I keep abreast of the big news stories here - I keep tabs on the BBC Sport and BBC News websites, I have a CNN news channel at the flat, and upstairs in the main part of the language school there's a flatscreen TV permanently showing the BBC World News Service. I sometimes hear the trademark beeps of the latter in the background when I'm in the room I teach in the most.

Anyway, I'd better be off now - this time tomorrow I'll be in the middle of my Saturday five-hour class, so I need to work out what I'm teaching in it!

Posted by 3Traveller 01:32 Archived in Ecuador Tagged spanish ecuador guayaquil english_teaching Comments (0)



So, about the teaching so far. I've had and am still having a positive time teaching - I've had a lot of rewarding moments, and I absolutely love the feeling you get when you hear students using English in exactly the way you wanted them to by the end of the lesson. I love it when I see students really engaged in an activity, and I love the 'lightbulb moment'. It's also interesting what the students tell me about themselves and Ecuador in general.

There are a couple of things I found a bit strange at first, having monolingual/monocultural classes rather than classes made up of students from different countries being one. Not having as much time to plan for lessons as I did on the CELTA course is another, as is having fewer classroom resources, and having to prepare classes for unit and final tests. I also now fully appreciate how much of a pain it is when students don’t hand in written assignments on time (she says, shifting guiltily in her seat...)!

I'm tired today. Ever since I first arrived in Guayaquil I have woken up between the times of 4.30 and 6 am every morning almost without fail, and I very rarely manage to drift off again. Some nights I wake up at 2-2.30 am as well, just for a touch of variety. This is kind of OK on teaching days, but on days off, when I would love a lie-in, I cannot help but feel robbed of precious sleep! I think the humidity has something to do with it, and the fact that I have no glass in my bedroom windows; even with earplugs in I can still hear noise of someone’s air conditioning unit above my window, the TV and the voices of the family below us underneath my window, and barking dogs. Quite often I hear an alarm clock go off below my window at 5.15am and then again five and then ten minutes later.

I taught my first Saturday class last weekend. On Saturdays the only classes on are for groups of Ecuadorian teachers who teach English at public schools in Guayaquil and a wide surrounding area. My group is pre-intermediate level. It’s the largest group yet I’ve had to teach, but they all seem keen. During the week no classes are longer than three hours, but the Saturday classes are five hours long; this seems like a huge amount of time to fill but it actually passed quickly for me. Time flies. There was a break as well, so it wasn’t five hours solid. One of the two main parts of the lesson was about how to describe where places are in relation to others, so I brought in my inflatable globe and also drew a quick map of South America on the whiteboard to use as teaching aids. I wished I had more than one globe to be honest!

Posted by 3Traveller 01:25 Archived in Ecuador Tagged ecuador guayaquil english_teaching Comments (0)

Update from Guayaquil


Well, I have been in Guayaquil for a month and have only now been able to update this blog! I've been really busy, as I expected, not only with teaching but the lesson planning and writing assignment & test marking that goes with it.

I'm sharing an apartment with one of the other new teachers; it's very nice for the price we're paying for it, but it doesn't have an oven, grill, toaster or kettle! There's no washing machine either so I've done my laundry so far by hand in the stone sink in the semi-outdoors part of the flat. In my bedroom window there's no glass pane; there's just some iron bars on the outside, then a heavy plastic/glass blind that's fixed to the wall, and then on the inside there's metal mosquito netting. A lot of the windows in Guayaquil generally don't have glass panes; even a fair amount of the smaller shops (outside of the malls) mostly consist of a barred counter with most of the stock behind it. Restaurants don't have walls between the eating area and the street; instead they just have a shutter that they pull down at closing time.


As a perk of the job we teachers get free Spanish lessons. I'm a complete beginner, but I'm enjoying it so far, although in my first lesson it quickly became apparent that I cannot roll my 'r's! I simply cannot physically do it. Ah well, I suppose I shall have to resign myself to sounding like I have a speech impediment whenever I speak Spanish for at least the immediate future, until/ if I finally get the hang of it...

I've been doing a lot of testing the last couple of weeks because three of the courses I took over when I arrived (Pre-Intermediate 2, FCE Prep 1 and Business English Pre-Intermediate 3) have come to an end. It feels so strange to be the one invigilating written tests and administering speaking tests, when I remember so clearly being the one taking exams!

For the rest of this post I'm going to copy and paste from emails I've sent home, simply because I haven't got time right now to write original material, as it were. They're about my general impressions of Guayaquil. Apologies if it seems a bit disjointed as a result.

The area I'm living in is very untouristy - not many people speak English - and is quite far out from the language school and even further from the city centre. Luckily though there are loads of very cheap buses, so I haven't had any problems getting from place to place so far apart from once in my first week when I'd forgotten exactly where to get off the bus to get to my new apartment. I got off too soon and had to wander around quite a lot after dark (which isn't something you're advised to do here) before giving up and getting a bus back to the language school, where they ordered a taxi for me. On the bus back to the language school, I was knackered and really hot and sweaty, but the bus driver waved me through without asking for the fare. When I got back off he pressed something small and white into my hand as I passed by, and as I stood on the pavement after he'd driven off, I saw it was a folded up note! I unfolded it and saw it had a picture of a heart with an arrow through it, and a phone number and some Spanish writing!

I literally did have to jump off the bus, because buses here don't often actually stop unless there are several people wanting to get on or off; usually they just slow down to let people jump on or off and then speed away as fast as they can. It only costs 25 cents to get anywhere within the city, and they let people get on or off anywhere they want, not just at designated stops. The buses are very ramshackle, but they have sliding windows so a nice breeze comes through. The driving in general here is terrible, however - it certainly always makes for an interesting if rather hair-raising journey whenever I get a bus or taxi!

Traders often jump on the bus, talk loudly and then move up and down the bus with their goods before jumping back off again. They climb around the electronic barrier that logs people as having got on and paid the fare, and the drivers all turn a blind eye to it, sometimes even holding their goods for them as they climb round! The hawkers sell things like grapes, nuts, water, bags of coconut water and ice, CDs (with CDs they take on a CD player and play music before handing copies round, going back to play more music, then going round to collect the money or the CDs if people give them back to him), flags of the local football team, sweets and many other things, though not more than a couple at any one time.

I haven't explored the city centre much so far, but one place I have been to is a square that has some resident iguanas! It was quite surreal to me at first, though they were a bit smaller than I expected. There were ones on the grass in the park in the middle of the square, and there was one on the marble base of the statue in the middle.

IMG_6976.JPG IMG_6952.JPG ab1f2190-0fa7-11e9-bcf8-910a9d31cd6b.JPG IMG_6966.JPG
IMG_6960.JPG IMG_6970.JPG IMG_6973.JPG

I also walked up and down the Malecon, a riverside walkway with statues, palm trees, playing areas for children, viewing towers, lots of snack stalls and even a mini shopping centre.

IMG_6917.JPG a6db5d60-0fa7-11e9-b9f6-ad82379bfedc.JPG IMG_6936.JPG IMG_6914.JPG IMG_6921.JPG ab6ccc60-0fa7-11e9-a537-2751f72b0863.JPG IMG_6925.JPG

The other day I had a typical Ecuadorian dish for lunch - 'Bollo de Pescado' with rice and salad; this consists of some fish wrapped in mashed up verde (a type of plant) that also has some cheese in it, with a herby peanut sauce on top. Although the rice was a bit too al dente for my liking, the actual Bollo de Pescado was delicious, and the whole plate of food was only $1.75! Apparently the fish was bonito.

Last week I went to a supermarket I hadn't been to before and had a good look round. The cream comes in bags rather than pots or bottles (!), the herbs come tied in big bunches, they have several fruits and vegetables which I haven't tried yet (mamey, taxo, granadilla, pitahaya, geino orito, zapota), and they have ready-to-fry packets of empanadas.


They have a big coffee section, but not of chocolate (they export a lot but don't really sell that much in shops apart from imported brands). The spice section is quite big too, and the shoe cleaning product section. In the fruit and veg section, the onions come loose already peeled and with the ends cut off, next to the normal bananas they have bunches of mini bananas, and they have sections containing types of loose beans for customers to shovel into bags. I was severely tempted by the yuca roots, because I know you can make lovely chips with them, but decided to leave them for another day. I also saw rolled up palm leaves, and what looked like giant spiky cactus leaves.

I've spent far too long on this post so I will write more about my teaching in my next update. I'll also be able to write about my visit to Montañita, a surfers' town on the west coast. I and the other teachers have been invited to a British Consulate party tomorrow to celebrate the Queen's birthday, so we're going to that and then going on up the coast to Montañita for the rest of the weekend. All I've seen of Ecuador so far is Guayaquil, so I'm looking forward to seeing some countryside and beaches!

Some more photos below of my room in Hostel Nucapacha, where I spent my first night in Ecuador, a statue in front of the Town Hall, and a parcel my sisters sent me.


Posted by 3Traveller 14:08 Archived in Ecuador Tagged spanish hostel buses sisters iguanas ecuador guayaquil explorations english_teaching malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine river_guayas Comments (0)

(Entries 46 - 50 of 50) Previous « Page .. 5 6 7 8 9 [10]