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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.


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.


Our lunchtime flight to Quito was uneventful.


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.


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)

Guayaquil explorations with Mum


In the morning I was working but Mum went out and explored the cathedral, Iguana Square and some shops nearby.

When I got back we had some lunch at the hotel and then we walked to the Malecón and went along that, passing through the botanic garden on the way...


...until we got to the big Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art. We only had time for a look round one of the exhibitions; it was really interesting because it had lots of examples of zoomorphic pottery, incredibly well preserved considering that many of them are thousands of years old. All different types of animals were represented. I had seen examples of these before in Cuenca, Santa Elena and at the Municipal Museum in Guayaquil, but Mum hadn't seen anything like them before, so they were all new to her.


After this we carried on another 100 meters or so to Las Peñas, where we looked at the colonial buildings there...


...before climbing up the side of Cerro Santa Ana until we got to the top.


Mum was desperate for an ice cream by then so I bought us an ice lolly each from an ice cream seller with a coolbox who was sitting at the bottom of the last flight of steps; $1.25 for two. I had a chocolate one and Mum had a guanabana one - lovely. We took some photos from the terrace first.


The little lighthouse was open so we climbed up to the top for an even better view - a policeman said we would have to pay $1 to take pictures, but we think he was just trying to scam us because he could see we were foreigners. We saw a local take a picture with her phone and the guy never stopped her. I managed to take a quick picture on the sly, however, without being caught.


On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a cafe for a drink - Mum ordered some tea but she did not like it at all - apparently the same thing happened in Barcelona a few years back! Then we stopped at a supermarket so that she could buy some fruit, stopped at a pharmacy a bit later to get some suncream, and finally got back to the hotel feeling knackered but satisfied.

We had dinner at a restaurant on the ground floor of a different hotel nearby. I had seco de chivo and Mum had shrimp ceviche.

When we got back to the hotel we wandered round taking some night time photos of the courtyard, including the pool, the giant iguana statue and the back of the cathedral that made up one of the courtyard walls.


Posted by 3Traveller 06:18 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel museum cathedral botanical_gardens mum ceviche ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine pre_columbian_artifacts Comments (0)

Mum is here!


I could hardly wait until the evening, when Mum was due to arrive! Somehow I got through the day until finally it was time for me to go to the airport to go to the hotel with her. However, this stage did not go quite as planned due to the monsoon rain that descended just when I needed it least.

It was in full swing when I left the language school. I'd intended to get a bus to the airport, but as soon as I caught sight of the torrential rainfall I asked reception if they could call me a taxi instead; however apparently no taxis were available at all, so I had to fall back on the buses. I've seldom seen rain so hard anywhere! I waited at the side of the road for the bus and although I had a small umbrella with me and my Bolivian coat on, my rucksack and I still got soaked. Due to the rain, everyone was in their cars instead, which resulted in the roads being gridlocked...

I ended up at Grand Hotel Guayaquil in the city centre (where Mum and I were booked for the next two nights), via four bus journeys, the bus terminal and a frantic wade through flooded streets, without having made it to the airport at all. I'd been foiled by a combination of the weather and the correct buses not running. Luckily I had already arranged the free hotel shuttle to pick up Mum from the airport, so although I wasn't able to use the shuttle with her like I'd planned to, at least she still got to the hotel OK.

It was wonderful to see her once I arrived, as I'm sure you can all imagine! She gave me a lovely little cloth with a turtle shape raised in the middle, which she'd knitted on the long plane journey; I've since put it out on show on my desk at the flat.


We had some dinner at one of the hotel's main café/restaurant but I've forgotten what we ate. It felt a great novelty to me to be staying in a hotel in Guayaquil, and a really nice hotel at that.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged hotel buses mum ecuador guayaquil extreme_weather Comments (0)

Birthday celebrations



The only class I had today was this morning, between 7-9 am; a B2 conversation class. I felt touched because one of my students gave me a special birthday cupcake. It was really big and the sponge and icing were both bright red. As soon as she'd given me it and I'd thanked her, all four of them broke out with 'Happy Birthday To You' - then the moment they finished that they carried on into the Spanish version, 'Cumpleaños Feliz'. I don't know what they do in Spain, but in Ecuador when native speakers sing 'Happy Birthday' in English, they stretch out 'ir' in 'birthday' to 'irrrrrrr'.

We did some work on fluency and some on small talk, and seeing as it was my birthday, we finished with a few snacks I'd brought in. The idea was to create a bit of a party atmosphere and provide an opportunity for small talk practice in a freer, authentic and more relaxed situation. It seemed to go down well.

Some birthday post arrived for me at the language school after my conversation class had finished. I stayed online at work for a couple of hours then took my post back to the flat, had some tuna mayo & iceberg lettuce rolls for lunch and then went back online and spoke to my nearest & dearest on Google Video chat. I had a lovely chat with Dave, and Emma, Kate and I opened our presents to each other on video. I saw our birthday cake being lit and heard 'Happy Birthday' sung to us. Mum had sent me an indoor sparkler so I lit that while on video as well. It was lovely to see everyone!

Friday night isn't the best time for us teachers to go out here because on any given week the majority of us have to be at work by 8 am on Saturday morning for class, so I saved my Guayaquil birthday celebration for the next day.


In the evening we went to Sushi Isao, the same sushi place we went to last October, because I remembered it being very good. Apparently it's the only sushi place in Guayaquil that is actually owned by a Japanese and has Japanese chefs - there are quite a few sushi places here but they aren't as genuine.


There were about 10 of us there. One or two ordered individual things but most of us shared two 'boats', which have 54 pieces of sushi in each one. Last time they did actually come in a boat-shaped dish but this time they were only on normal platters. The others refused to let me pay for my share of the bill!


Before that we had a drink or two at a bar nearby called 'El Manantial'. We sat at a long table outside the front and the waiters brought us drinks. I think I've mentioned this before, but in Guayaquil people don't seem to go up to the bar to order drinks at all; ordering through waiters seems to be the done thing. I had an 'Alexander' cocktail which in Ecuador is made with brandy, Creme de Cacao, condensed milk and crushed ice, but elsewhere is usually made with gin instead of brandy and cream instead of condensed milk. They love their condensed milk here.

After the sushi we went to a sports bar. Most of the others shared something I've also seen in Brazil - a great tall container filled with beer that has a tap for you to self-dispense beer from. I had two caipirinha cocktails because they had a 2-for-1 offer. I thought something fruity would be a nice contrast to the sushi and the Alexander cocktail I'd had before.

Some people went home after that but five of us carried on back to El Manantial where we had a last drink. I had another - you guessed it - Alexander cocktail. When the place closed at 2 am I went back by taxi.

Posted by 3Traveller 03:54 Archived in Ecuador Tagged night sisters dave cocktails mum ecuador guayaquil english_teaching sushi_isao birthday_celebration Comments (0)

Back to Ecuador soon

Hemel Hempstead and St Albans

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Yesterday I said goodbye to Dave, who had to drive back to Manchester. It was really hard for both of us. At least when I get back to Ecuador I can start enquiring about time off - Dave is going to fly out and visit me for three weeks, hopefully in June. We're hoping to go to the Galápagos Islands and a few other places we haven't been to before...

Something else to look forward to, but in a much shorter term, is Mum coming to Ecuador next month! She's decided to visit me during UK half term. I can't wait!

Emma, Mark, Dave and I went to Kate and Andrew's for dinner last Saturday. Venison stew and rice pudding were on the menu so who was I to refuse such an invitation? :-D

Company was great, as ever, and the food was delicious. Venison stew with dumplings served with peas and mashed potato with sautéed onion mixed in, with rice pudding afterwards and some clementines later on. We'd had some deliciously sweet, crisp, juicy red grapes beforehand. We played a board game about Britain after dinner, but I've forgotten its name.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:53 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged united_kingdom sisters dave mum st_albans hemel_hempstead british_cuisine Comments (0)

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