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Guayaquil: Urban regeneration and green lizards

Guayaquil


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Having visited the 'main' Malecón (waterfront; Malecón 2000) on many occasions in the last year and a bit, I thought it about time I went to Malecón del Salado, the other, less well-known one which is on the other side of the city centre.

To get there I walked down the main street of Urdesa, crossed two different branches of the same river (the second time over a zigzag bridge) and then followed a path next to the river, down Parque Lineal del Estero Salado.

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The zigzag bridge, the park, and both Malecóns in their current form are all some results of the massive urban regeneration which has taken place in Guayaquil over the last ten to fifteen years. There were sculptures, monuments, benches, neatly planted trees and bushes.

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I especially liked the benches laid out in a semicircle with a kind of trellis above it which was covered in greenery and yellow flowers. I also especially enjoyed the sight of the green lizards which stood around on the grass and in the flowerbeds.

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I had to cross the river again to get to the Malecón del Salado.

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I walked up and down, followed a path which took me over another branch of the river and then realised I had entered the grounds of the University of Guayaquil without realising it. The place looked surprisingly crowded for a Sunday! After looking round for a bit I left the way I'd come and walked back down the Malecón, followed another path past an interesting fish sculpture and then retraced my steps to the Plaza de Mariscos, a food court with a focus on seafood.

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Maybe because it was mid-afternoon by now, I was almost the only customer there. I had some tasty seafood rice which came with a large crab claw sticking out of the top, plus the usual avocado, plantain and raw tomato. How I wish I liked avocadoes and bananas! They are two of the main exports of Ecuador, are extremely cheap here and are supposed to be particularly delicious.

After finishing my meal I walked out of the Malecón and along Avenida 9 de Octubre, the main street of Guayaquil. If I had continued to the end, it would have taken me to the main Malecón, but I was tiring by now and stopped at Parque Centenario before turning back.

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Posted by 3Traveller 06:28 Archived in Ecuador Tagged bridges art lizards ecuador guayaquil explorations parque_centenario ecuadorian_cuisine avenida_9_de_octubre malecón_del_salado Comments (0)

Ecuador's World Cup passion

Guayaquil


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Friday 20th June

A delayed flight back to Guayaquil in the morning.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Back from the Galápagos. Cuenca tomorrow!

Puerto Ayora, Baltra Island and Guayaquil


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A very early start for us this morning. A taxi arrived at 5.45 to take us, Bud and Gale to the port, where after having our bags rather cursorily checked, a water taxi dropped us off at the speedboat. The journey this time was better because the boat was much less crowded so there was more space and fresh air. On arrival at Puerto Ayora we were met by the G Adventures representative (I've forgotten his name now... sorry!), who asked Dave and me to meet him nearby at 9 and then took Bud & Gale to their next hotel. We said goodbye to them because we wouldn't see them again. It had been a pleasure sharing many of our Galápagos experiences with them.

Dave and I had some breakfast at a nearby restaurant; scrambled eggs, two rolls with cheese, coffee/ hot chocolate, juice and fruit salad with yoghurt.

At 9 we were put into a taxi to the ferry, on the other side of Santa Cruz.

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Once on the ferry it took ages to leave; then on the other side there was another wait for the LAN bus to turn up. Even after it arrived and everyone got on, we had to sit there for ages waiting for it to depart to the airport. I started to get really worried that we would miss our flight. Other passengers, with a flight even closer than ours, complained, only to be told that we were waiting for another ferryload of passengers. Once the latter had arrived and got on and the bus finally left, we had only 30 minutes until our flight was supposed to depart! The bus journey took up further five minutes. On arrival we rushed to the check-in desk, only to be met by a 'CLOSED' sign... luckily for us there were three or four others who needed the same flight, who had their tour guide with them - she got the check-in girl to print boarding passes for them. After they'd gone through the girl printed precious boarding cards for us too - thank goodness! We rushed through the passport and baggage checks as quickly as we could (the terminal was tiny, which helped) and arrived at the boarding gate 15 minutes before the given departure time. Luckily for us, nobody had been allowed on the plane yet. We had made it!

I managed to get some half-decent photos of Baltra Island as we took off and of the River Guayas, rice fields and of Guayaquil itself as we descended. We were given some lovely little Ecuadorian snacks mid-flight.

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Once we'd got back to my flat we rested until the evening, with only a trip out to find an internet café because the internet wasn't working properly at the flat for some reason. We had intended to tell our families about our engagement but by the time we got to one that had phone cabins, I thought it would be too late at night in the UK, so I just checked my email instead.

In the evening we had dinner with three of my former students at an Italian café near to the language school! They were from a class I'd been teaching until last week and this was their idea, something they wanted to do as a thank you to me. When they found out that Dave was with me they insisted that he come too. So we went and had a nice chat and some delicious pizza and dessert with them. At the end, they refused to let either me or Dave pay for our food! Very kind and generous of them.

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Posted by 3Traveller 04:26 Archived in Ecuador Tagged coast airport dave ecuador galapagos_islands guayaquil english_teaching unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Galápagos Islands: Santa Cruz (Indefatigable)

Guayaquil and the Galápagos Islands


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Edit from January 2019: Finch Bay appears to be called Playa de los Alemanes (German Beach) on Google Maps - maybe Finch Bay is the unofficial name.

Breakfast and then off to Guayaquil Airport. We had to get our bags checked and tagged at the Galápagos Biosecurity Control Inspection & Quarantine desk first and then move to another desk next door to pay $10 each for our Tourist Control Cards.

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We arrived at Baltra Island to hot breeze. The runway and terminal were both tiny, set in the midst of obviously volcanic rock, red earth and dry vegetation on every side.

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From the airport we we were driven in a LAN bus to the port, where we got on a ferry to the main island, Santa Cruz. Luggage went on the flat top of the boat whilst all the people went inside. We saw our first blue-footed boobies!

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On arrival we waited for a bus, only to be told by the taxi drivers that the buses have gone for the day. I didn't believe them, thinking they were only saying that to make us get an $18 taxi ride instead, so we hung around for a bit longer. Then a new ferryload of people arrived and I asked a tour guide if either of the two buses in the bar park were public ones - they had the same name as the local buses mentioned in our guidebook - but he said no. It turned out they had been commissioned for his tour group and we were not allowed on. So we thought "sod it" and just got a taxi to Puerto Ayora after all - we couldn't afford the time to hang around any longer.

At about two-ish we arrived at our hostel, the Galápagos Best Homestay. Dave's name was written on a welcome whiteboard on the outer wall! The owner was really friendly and our room had a kitchenette and free drinking water from a big container (like on the mainland, the tap water isn't safe to drink).

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Almost straight after checking in to our hostel we went out on our first excursion... a trip by water taxi to a small, curved, enclosed beach called Finch Bay. We walked through the town centre to get to the dock.

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We saw mangroves and a massive heron on the final short walk to the beach.

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Finch Bay has wonderful white sand.

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Then we hiked for 25 minutes to Las Grietas, a fissure in some rocks maybe about 10 metres wide - wide enough for people to swim in.

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It's filled with a mixture of seawater and natural fresh water that comes through the ground. It was wonderfully, deliciously cool, not to mention pretty clear - when snorkelling, I could see the ground about 40 feet below! I saw some small, well-camouflaged fish that stayed on underwater rocks, and a small shoal of much larger fish.

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We stopped at Finch Bay on the way back and I had another swim - Dave had got changed already so didn't get back into his wet stuff. The beach was sandy and instead of having rocky headlands on each side, it was flanked with mangroves. The sea was clearly very salty because I could float on my back without having to breath in at all.

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We stopped at a small supermarket on our way back and bought some dinner - a type of Ecuadorian sausage I've had before that is a lot like a frankfurter but shorter and much fatter, an onion, some mayonnaise and some rolls. We cooked half of the sausages for dinner and saved the others for breakfast tomorrow morning.

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Posted by 3Traveller 15:46 Archived in Ecuador Tagged birds coast beach airport hostel ferry dave ecuador galapagos_islands guayaquil explorations blue_footed_boobies unesco_world_heritage_site freshwater_swimming 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)

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