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Goodbye to Guayaquil

Guayaquil


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Monday 28th

Today I went back to my now-former-workplace to do a few final things and say goodbye to everyone. These things included: paying a visit to Western Union to transfer most of the money from my Ecuadorian bank account to the UK, making use of the printer to print off my flight e-tickets and my Madrid hostel reservation email, collecting a parcel from Emma from the post office using a slip that had arrived at work while I was away, going up onto the flat roof of the building to take photos of the view on each side, going out for lunch (seco de pollo) at the booths round the corner for the last time, and having an exit interview with the Director of Studies.

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It was relatively late in the afternoon by the time I got back, so I didn't do much else apart from go out for dinner. I had a churrasco (at this place, a thin steak with ratatouille-type vegetables and two fried eggs on top, with chips and rice) and then a cup of morocho for pudding.

Tuesday 29th

In the morning I got a bus into Guayaquil city centre for a last look-around. I visited the Central Market for the first time - as soon as I entered I really wished I'd discovered it much sooner. It was filled with fruit, vegetable and herb stalls, stalls of sausages hanging up, stalls selling sacks of flour, beans, pulses etc., and stalls selling tins and packets of food as well as more general non-edible household goods. It was very much like the Daily Market in Otavalo and the general market in Banos, only without the café-stands selling guinea pig, other typical Ecuadorian dishes and slices taken from whole roasted pigs.

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Then I walked past the hotel where I stayed with Mum in February, so on an impulse I went into its café and had a cup of their wonderful hot chocolate. Then I said goodbye to the iguanas in Iguana Square and carried on straight ahead to the Malecón.

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I climbed up one of the viewing towers next to the River Guayas, which is what I'd done on my first visit to the city centre on my second full day in Ecuador. It was perfectly sunny, without a cloud in the sky.

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My next stop was the Artisan Market, another place I had never been inside before for some reason. On the way there I walked past La Barca Azul, the lunch restaurant where I ate several times and took most of my visitors to, but I didn't feel hungry enough for lunch yet so I didn't go in. At the market I had a quick look round and then took a bus back to Urdesa.

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As soon as I'd dumped my stuff I went straight out again, this time to the Banco Pichincha cash machine to take out the rest of the money I had left in my account. I'd left enough in there to change into Euros once I got to Madrid, so I wouldn't need to use my HSBC card there at all, and hopefully have some left over as well. Before I took the bus back to my street corner, first of all I bought a sandwich and a carton of coffee milk from Oki Doki (a convenience store... I remember finding the name very amusing when I first got here) and then I did a little bit of shopping at Mi Comisariato supermarket. Amongst other things, I bought a bottle of Ecuadorian créme de cacao to take back to the UK.

Two minutes before I had to get off the bus, 'Vivir mi Vida' by Marc Antony came onto the radio. I've heard this played so often on the buses (and elsewhere) ever since I arrived in Ecuador that I've come to consider it my Ecuadorian anthem; it felt very appropriate and right that it was playing on my last bus journey here. It played on my arrival and now it was accompanying me on my way out.

Then I packed everything and at 4pm I somehow managed to get my big and incredibly heavy case down four flights of stairs and out onto the pavement, along with my rucksack, laptop case and a couple of bags of rubbish to put out.

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Then I flagged down a taxi to the airport. The fare was $4, so since all the change I had left came to just above that, I just gave the driver all of it.

Posted by 3Traveller 03:53 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel market airport cathedral buses iguanas ecuador guayaquil english_teaching malecon_2000 guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine river_guayas Comments (0)

Visitors!

Guayaquil

Today was very exciting for me because my sisters and brothers-in-law arrived in Guayaquil! They had arrived in Ecuador on Tuesday the 8th in Quito and had spent the rest of that day and all of the 9th resting in the hostel and exploring the city before catching a local flight to Guayaquil this morning. I met them at the airport and we took a taxi to Urdesa, where their hostel is. (Credit to Kate for the following photos of me.)

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It felt so surreal, but lovely, for me to have them with me!

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After they had dumped their stuff and we'd cooled off in front of the fans for a bit, we caught a bus into town. This was a novel experience for them because the Selectivo buses in Guayaquil are very different to any bus in the UK. Mostly very ramshackle both on the outside and inside; streetsellers hop on and off with all kinds of goods; the fare is only 25 cents; the doors are nearly always kept open while the bus is moving; the aisle is usually very narrow; and the bus will stop anywhere (apart from on bridges/overpasses) for people to get on or off. The destinations are usually written on stickers stuck on the front windscreen.

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Our first destination was 'La Barca Azul', a restaurant I've been to a few times that sells a lot of 'Platos Tipicos' (traditional dishes) and is very untouristy. Emma, Kate and I had seco de chivo (goat stew), Mark had Ecuadorian ceviche and Andrew had seafood rice.

Then we walked down part of the Malecón, the rejuvenated waterfront by the River Guayas. Some of us climbed up one of the lookout towers next to the river and we also passed by the Moorish Tower.

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Then we turned right and carried on to Iguana Square, a park within the square in front of the cathedral. Even though I have seen iguanas many times now, they still look quite a novelty to me. They look so prehistoric that their presence in the city centre seems incongruous. We enjoyed wandering round spotting iguanas on the grass, on the paths and in the branches of one of the trees.

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After iguana- and turtle-watching for a while we carried on into the cathedral. Due to Lent, nearly all of the statues and paintings were covered with purple drapes. One of the only ones that wasn't was a big statue of Jesus carrying the cross and wearing the crown of thorns. Most of the cathedral was quite dark, with the exception of a spectacular, tiny chapel with beautiful stained glass and natural light, which we looked into but didn't actually enter because lots of people were inside it praying.

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After this we needed to get another bus, this time to my workplace. On our way to the right place to get it from we spotted a couple of parrots sitting on a ledge at the top of the front of the Town Hall!

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The bus took us back along the Malecón and past Cerro Santa Ana.

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There were only a couple of hours until my evening class. I really enjoyed showing them round the place, introducing them to my colleagues (both teaching and admin) and then introducing them to some of my students and including them in the first part of my lesson! We were working on past simple & past continuous within the context of childhood memories.

They took a taxi at 7.30 (that I had asked reception to order for them) back to their hostel. The plan is for them to come back to the language school tomorrow morning at 11.30 am, just as I get back from my Spanish lesson. Then we'll go straight on to the bus terminal together so I can help them get their tickets to Playas, where they're going for the day. I wish I could come too, because I've never been to Playas, but I have a conversation class between 7-9am, my Spanish lesson between 9.30-11am and an upper-intermediate class between 4-8pm.

Posted by 3Traveller 04:55 Archived in Ecuador Tagged airport cathedral buses sisters iguanas ceviche ecuador guayaquil explorations english_teaching malecon_2000 guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Mum's last day in Guayaquil

Guayaquil

This morning we took advantage of the Grand Hotel's delicious buffet breakfast again. First of all we had some hot stuff and then we went back for cold. I had scrambled eggs, a chicken and vegetable mixture and a couple of mini corviches (mashed yuca mixed with cheese and fried - a bit like a cheesy potato cake but slightly more gooey inside; I've had the big version before with onion mixed in too and they are delicious), followed by lots of fresh pineapple chunks, some papaya, some poached cinnamon pears, a custard bun and a little glazed bun with raisins that looked and tasted like a sausage-shaped hot cross bun. There were other rolls and things too but I was too full to have more! To go with the food we both had coffee and some fruit juice and I also had a small glass of peach drinking yoghurt.

After breakfast I really wanted to get a picture of Mum with an iguana, so we went for a walk round the corner to Iguana Square. I got several photos and we discovered a lot of turtles as well, some bigger ones and some very small and cute ones.

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Then we walked through the cathedral and out of the side. I was really glad I could get pictures of the iguanas and the cathedral while Mum was here because when she walked around both on the morning after her arrival, I wasn't there so she didn't have a camera to get any pictures.

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At about 09.50 I got the bus into work for a teachers' admin meeting, only to find out on arrival that it had been postponed until next week. I checked my email and then got the bus back again.

When I arrived back, we finished packing, checked out and went into the café/restaurant for a coffee. Though actually, although we went in for a coffee we ended up having a 'Chocolate Tradicional' instead! Ecuador is know for its cacao production. It had a little bit of cinnamon in it and was the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my entire life.

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After our amazing chocolate experience we strolled down to the Malecón and along it until we reached the turnoff for the side street where the lunch restaurant 'La Barca Azul' is. We took our time walking there because we weren't under any time pressure. We passed an indoor market which isn't usually there, and stopped at the riverside;

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The sun came out on the way so it got extremely hot. Once at the restaurant I ordered us both Seco de Chivo (traditional goat stew) and a bottle of peach juice.

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After we'd finished our stew we caught a bus to the language school. Mum met some of my teaching colleagues and admin staff and I showed her round the whole building. It felt really surreal to have her there, though in a good way of course.

Then we caught another bus to my flat. The journey took much longer than usual for some reason. I loaded all the photos from her trip so far onto my laptop and we looked through them together. She also had a sit down on the sofa in the living area, in front of the air conditioning, with a bottle of water I'd put in the freezer section for a bit to make colder.

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We didn't have all that long there before we had to get the bus back to my workplace. We did however stop at the fruit shop round the corner first, where I bought a pound of grapes and some light green plums for Mum. Back at the language school Mum washed and ate the fruit, before changing and watching some of the BBC World Service that is usually on the flatscreen TV in reception. Then the taxi arrived to take us to the airport.

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At the airport Mum printed off her boarding pass from one of the self-service machines and we looked round the shops for a while. I decided that when I leave Ecuador this summer, I will buy a 'Republica del Cacao' t-shirt from Guayaquil Airport as a leaving present to myself. Mum bought a Panama-like hat for herself and cloth that can be used as a scarf or put on a table. Then we sat in a café and Mum had some black tea with milk - it tasted better than the tea she had the other day - and I had a big glass of coconut and blackberry juice.

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After Mum had gone through to passport control, out of sight, I got a taxi back to the flat. It was roughly 6.30pm by then.

Posted by 3Traveller 09:29 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel airport cathedral iguanas mum ecuador guayaquil malecon_2000 guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Quito and Grand Hotel Guayaquil

Quito and Guayaquil


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Very sunny again at breakfast; this time the sun lasted all morning. After breakfast we went into the lovely little garden and I took some photos of it with the volcano in the background.

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Then we went back to the shop we we'd gone to the day before, because I'd realised that the security tag had been left in my new shirt and I didn't want to risk ripping the shirt by trying to pull the tag off.

After they'd taken it off for me, Mum and I walked down the road to the Museo Etnográfico de Artesanía de Ecuador, stopping on the way at a lovely little triangular park for a look-around.

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This museum had fascinating displays about the various indigenous tribes in Ecuador and their traditional dress, utensils, musical instruments and art. Between us, our favourite exhibits were some colourful feather crowns, carved wooden guagua de pan moulds (the sweet bread figures sold and eaten in Ecuador on 1st/2nd November - I had some in Cuenca), guitar-shaped instruments where the back of each was made from a large armadillo shell, a 'tuned' wooden log used to send messages (through different sounds) between different communities in the rainforest, and a patterned clay crab with large pincers and a very toothy, rather frightened-looking smile.

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Mum bought some chocolate and two balls of alpaca wool in the shop and then we moved on to the café outside. Mum had a cappucino, I had an iced coffee that turned out to be very big and had lots of whipped cream on top, and we shared a slice of maracuyá (passionfruit) cheesecake. Although it hadn't been described as such, we could tell it was a baked cheesecake. It was lovely. Then I realised it was ten to eleven and we were supposed to check out before eleven, so since she had finished her drink, Mum dashed straight back to the guesthouse to check out and get our valuables from the safe while I finished my drink and portion of the cheesecake slice and walked back via a different route.

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We got the guesthouse to order us a taxi to the airport at 12. This time the driver was very good, so the journey felt smoother.

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Once we got to the airport and had gone though to our boarding gate we got some food from a café; Mum had a fruit salad and I had a large cheese and ham roll. The flight was completely uneventful apart from that I managed to get a good photo of Quito spread out below with the mountains behind it.

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On arrival to Guayaquil we were met at the airport and taken to the hotel. I had another swim in the pool and soon after that we had to change rooms due to an unfortunate bathroom flooding incident!

For dinner we went to a restaurant on site, '1822 Grill Room', after first drinking our free, fruity and delicious cocktails at the Turtle Bar (we got a free cocktail voucher each at check-in).

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The food and drink we had at 1822 was excellent - it started with a shared hors d'ouevre of pepperoni slices, smoked cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles. Mum had a Screwdriver cocktail and I had a delicious 'Pichincha Punch' made from dark & light rum, Cointreau, Vermouth, Dubonnet, Créme de Cacao, pineapple juice, lemon and orange juice. Then for the main course I had amazing mixed skewers of incredibly tender, juicy and tasty chunks of steak and chicken with mushrooms, onion and pepper; Mum had 'Corvina Boyacá', sea bass in a special sauce, with tiny baby potatoes and some steamed vegetables. My skewers came with salad. For pudding I had quite a stiff chocolate mousse in a glass, but Mum just had a coffee.

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On the way back to our room we carried on up another couple of levels to the top of the hotel. I took some more photos of the pool, courtyard and cathedral after dark.

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Before we arrived back at our room I heard the strains of the tune the rubbish collection truck plays on its rounds, so we stopped to listen to it until it went out of earshot. Once I'm back in the UK this summer, if I ever hear this tune again it will instantly transport me back to Guayaquil. It's really catchy.

Posted by 3Traveller 08:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel airport museum cathedral hostel mum quito andes ecuador guayaquil explorations guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Off to Quito with Mum!

Guayaquil and Quito


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We didn't do much this morning because of all the walking around Guayaquil we did yesterday. Instead of going out, we took full advantage of the breakfast buffet and the hotel pool.

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The breakfast was great and the pool was amazing - the courtyard it is in has the back of the cathedral as one wall, which is covered in hanging vegetation. There are two stained glass windows as well. The back of the cathedral overhung the pool a little so the view was very interesting when we floated on our backs.

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Our lunchtime flight to Quito was uneventful.

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On the long taxi journey from the new airport into town we both felt quite lightheaded and Mum also felt a bit sick, but once we arrived we felt a bit better. It was because the taxi journey included a lot of twists and turns up a mountain, plus the driver went too fast and had the heating on, not because of the altitude so much. Mum had a cup of coca tea with sugar and we rested for a couple of hours before we went out for dinner. The fresh air did us both good.

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I was going to delete this photo, but Mum said "It reflects how I was feeling when the photo was taken!"

We went to an Italian restaurant round the corner. For our main course Mum had a rocket, mushroom and parmesan salad and I had a mushroom pizza; for pudding Mum had some coffee icecream that came frozen in a china coffee cup and had some whole almonds in it, whilst I had panna cotta.

The meal was lovely (thought the salad wasn't as substantial as Mum hoped), but we did have a slightly dodgy moment on the way to the restaurant. A boy ran past us and Mum said that he had looked very suspicious - she turned round and saw him running up to us; when he saw her he changed direction slightly so that he went past us instead. We think he might have tried snatching Mum's bag if she hadn't turned round at just the right moment.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:50 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains hotel airport cathedral hostel mum quito andes ecuador guayaquil guayaquil_metropolitan_cathedra Comments (0)

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