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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)

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)

Visitors: Malecón, Las Peñas, Cerro Santa Ana and salsa

Guayaquil

Yesterday I only saw Emma, Kate, Mark and Andrew in the morning when I met them at the language school and took them to the bus terminal. They were going to Playas for the afternoon. It turned out that the night before, after they got back to their hostel after taking part in the first part of my lesson, they went swimming in the hostel's pool; on getting out of the pool Kate put her foot through the filter cover by accident, cutting and bruising her foot quite badly.

Today, while I was teaching in the morning the others looked round the Malecón, complete with botanic garden and the Museum of Anthropology & Contemporary Art. As soon as work finished at 1 o'clock I caught a bus into the city centre to meet them for lunch. I was held up considerably in traffic but we eventually managed to meet up. I wanted to take them to the restaurant E and I went to about a month and a half ago that sells delicious 'Encocado' (fish or shrimps in a creamy coconut sauce with rice), but unfortunately I couldn't find it, so we went somewhere else instead for lunch - the place on the Malecón that Mum and I went to in February. Kate, Emma and I all had sea bass which had been lightly breadcrumbed then grilled, which was amazing. I'm pretty sure it was the best breadcrumbed fish I've ever had!

Suitably refreshed, we headed over to Las Peñas to have a good nose around.

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We popped into a little art gallery and also saw at least two artists at work in their studios.

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We then took the side way up Cerro Santa Ana, the same way I'd taken Mum in February. We met this amazing dog on the way;

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Once at the terrace at the top we went up the lighthouse and had a look inside the chapel.

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After that the others went back to have a lie down and a swim in the pool. Later on we met up with 'E' at a nearby restaurant for dinner. The others were slightly shocked to find a security guard armed with a shotgun outside, but 'E' and I are used to it so we didn't bat any eyelids. Once inside, Emma and Kate had a lovely surprise because they saw Encocado on the menu! I was craving steak so I had that instead; it was delicious.

After we'd had dinner, we set off via taxis to a karaoke bar in Las Peñas that I've been to before. Kate and Emma were desperate to try the famous 'Alexander' cocktail I'd told them about (which in Ecuador is made from brandy, creme de cacao, condensed milk and crushed ice), so they and I had ones.

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I had intended for us to join my colleagues at a nearby bar for a drink or two before we carried on to the Captain Morgan, but as it turned out we didn't have time. We didn't want to be late for Captain Morgan!

The walk down the Malecon to where the boat was moored was very atmospheric in the dark, with the La Rotonda Monument and the Moorish Tower both lit up.

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After buying our tickets and waiting a while, we were allowed up the gangplank. A short while after the ship started to sail, a couple of guys with pirate hats came over and insisted on us posing for photos - he took photos with our cameras for us and if we'd wanted to we could have bought an official photograph from him for $5, but we chose not to.

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A lot of the music they played was salsa and merengue - and luckily for the rest of us, 'E' gave us an impromptu lesson in both! It was really, really good fun.

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We came back in to land at about 2 am. E rang for two taxis for us, one for me and her and one for the others.

Posted by 3Traveller 06:21 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art night museum hostel buses sisters salsa botanical_gardens cocktails ecuador guayaquil explorations cerro_santa_ana las_peñas malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine river_trip river_guayas Comments (0)

Night out in Guayaquil: the floating 'Captain Morgan'

Las Peñas and the River Guayas

Update from January 2019: The boat is still there, though officially known as 'Barco Morgan'. I didn't mention it below, but it did and as far as I know still does more normal daytime river trips during the week and I assume at weekends as well (don't quote me on this though).

At the Malecón in Guayaquil there is a wooden boat docked called the Captain Morgan, which on Friday and Saturday nights becomes a floating bar. It leaves at 11.30 pm and sails up and down the River Guayas for a couple of hours; you pay $15 to get in and then it´s all you can drink for free.

A group of us decided to give it a go. Before we went got on the Captain Morgan we had a few drinks at Las Peñas. We met up in a bar called 'La Taberna', somewhere I had never been to before. It was a very interesting place because the walls were covered with laminated photographs and framed newspaper pages and articles that looked decades old.

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There were also antique telephones and gramophones, old Latin American records in their sleeves, a collection of empty cigarette packets stuck onto part of one wall and two flatscreen TVs showing some very eccentric and low-budget-looking cumbia, reggaeton and merengue videos and some recordings of salsa nightclub performances. Part of a U2 concert was also shown. There was a giant inflatable Pilsener beer bottle outside the entrance.

There were no drinks menus; the owner simply brought over pitchers of beer and some chilled glass mugs. There were some bottles of spirits behind the bar but I decided to leave it and not bother having anything to drink considering the free bar I knew I'd have on the Captain Morgan.

After leaving La Taberna we walked down the Malecón to the Captain Morgan. I saw this bird on the way (apologies for the rubbish quality: I didn't want to scare it away by using flash).

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We'd arrived half an hour early so some of us went looking for food... For some reason the only food I'd had that day so far was a couple of empanadas in the morning and a chocolate brownie in the afternoon, so I was starving.The only open place nearby was McDonald's, so we went there. It was only the second time I'd been to a McDonald's in Ecuador. I had a small fries and a 'Thick & Crispy' burger because it looked like a plain double cheeseburger with a bit of special mayonnaise and what I assumed was crispy bacon inside... Once I bit into it I discovered that it wasn't bacon at all but pieces of pork scratching!

The boat trip was a great experience. It was interesting to see Guayaquil from a different viewpoint and after dark.

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We did a lot of dancing and took advantage of the free bar. Aside from beer they didn't have much else apart from vodka, whiskey, rum and mixers, so I had a rum & Coke and two whiskey & oranges.

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The boat came back to port between 2 - 2.30 am. I got a taxi back with some of the others who live in the same end of town. Unfortunately when I arrived back I realised I didn't have my phone anymore - I think it must have fallen out of my pocket in the back of the taxi or when I used the facilities just before we disembarked.

Posted by 3Traveller 03:37 Archived in Ecuador Tagged parties birds night ecuador guayaquil las_peñas malecon_2000 river_trip river_guayas Comments (0)

Botanical garden, music & a crystal palace

Guayaquil

I made this trip into the city centre because I had realised that although I had been all the way to the end of the Malecon in one direction before, I hadn't yet been to the other. I saw on Google Maps that not only is there a market there but also a 'crystal palace' - I couldn't believe I hadn't ever got round to checking them out before! I remember seeing part of the 'crystal palace' on the waterfront from the ferry on my trip to Isla Santay last September and thinking 'I wonder what that building's for'.

The first thing I did in town, however, after buying a bottle of Coca-Cola Light to get change from a tenner, was have lunch at the same restaurant I had lunch at for the first time last Sunday; 'La Barca Azul'. There are no menus on the tables, like most places open for lunch; only a whiteboard outside and in this case, a row of pictures and captions on the wall inside. Last time I had a lovely goat stew (seco de chivo) with rice where the meat was so tender it fell off the bone, so this time I thought I'd try something else to see if the general standard had been a one-off or not. So I tried seco de gallina instead, despite not knowing what 'gallina' meant (hen, as it turned out); also very good.

After lunch I did something else I'd also done on Sunday; I walked round the botanic gardens in the Malecon. This time I'd brought my camera with me because I regretted not bringing it last time. As I walked up to the bridge across the 'moat' surrounding the entrance to the garden I saw a man in a blue council outfit standing in the water up to his chest, throwing white powder out of a bucket. Bizarre. Maybe some kind of water treatment?

Anyway, once I got into the gardens it was really pleasant to walk round. Colourful flowers, exotic scents and birdsong, the unmistakeable subtropical air.

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I exited at the far end and walked back down the Malecon. As I passed by where I'd entered I saw that the man was still in the water throwing whiteness around, only this time he'd mixed some water in with the powder.

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Soon after that I heard some band music playing in the distance ahead. This turned out to be the Metropolitan Police band, though I've no idea why they were playing. The only public holiday in January here is New Year's Day. It was a brass and wind band. One chap was playing a massive white sousaphone that curled round his back and rested on his shoulder. When rested on the ground it was very nearly as tall as he was.

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They were playing next to the La Rotonda Monument, which represents the meeting of the two famous South American liberators, Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, in Guayaquil 1822.

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After listening for a while I carried on to the end of the Malecon I hadn't been to before. On my way down I noticed that there was an awful lot of riverweed floating in the River Guayas.

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It was extremely hot and sunny by now so I was glad to walk through the little air-conditioned shopping centre on the way.

The crystal palace turned out not to be quite as big and grand as the name suggests, and was also empty - I couldn't work out what it is actually used for - but still looked quite impressive. There was a plaza on each side and these connected through a massive archway through the middle of the building.

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There were a few hole-in-the-wall market stalls around the the sides of the left plaza but most were shuttered down - clearly not a market day. I thought I might as well leave having a look round them properly until it is! The area was so pleasant in the sunshine next to the river that I was still glad I'd come.

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Posted by 3Traveller 12:53 Archived in Ecuador Tagged birds botanical_gardens ecuador guayaquil malecon_2000 ecuadorian_cuisine extreme_weather river_guayas Comments (0)

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