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Tropical animals, architecture of old Guayaquil

Guayaquil Historical Park


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Edit from January 2019: I forgot to mention this originally, but the Historical Park is free entry! It's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and is open 09:00 - 16:00 the rest of the week.

Parque Histórico Guayaquil lies on a peninsula that splits the Río Daule and Río Babahoyo before they converge to become the Río Guayas. It needs to be within quite a large area because is split into three zones; the Wildlife Zone, the Urban Architecture Zone and the Traditions Zone.

My colleague/ friend 'H' and I decided to go there together today because neither of us had been before, despite having wanted to for ages. I am starting to run out of weekends before I leave Ecuador...

The Wildlife Zone was first. It is split into the four forest ecosystems of the local Guayas province; Drizzle Forest, Tropical Dry Forest, Mangrove Forest and the Floodplain (Wetlands) Forest. As we wandered round, we saw lots of wildlife, some of them common but others critically endangered in the wild. The Guayaquil macaw is probably the most at risk of extinction; there are only about 90 breeding pairs left in the country. Aside from the parrots, my favourites were the harpy eagle, the horned screamer bird, the two-toed sloth, the tapirs, the collared peccary and the turtles.

In order, each row from left to right; peccary, chestnut-fronted macaw, more chestnut-fronted macaws, scarlet macaws, flamingo, green parrots, horned screamer, more horned screamers and flamingoes, more peccaries, two-toed sloths, Central American agouti, tapirs, mangrove forest, pond, caiman and more caimen;

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From there we followed the path into the Urban Architecture Zone, which brings together several important wooden buildings which were built in Guayaquil in the very late 19th and early 20th centuries, then dismantled and transferred to the Park in the 1980s. These buildings were mostly built directly after the great fire of 1896 which destroyed a lot of the old part of the city. Most of them were residential, belonging to locally important people, but one was the Territorial Bank and one was used by the Social Services as a hospital, complete with chapel.

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With all of these buildings, the upper storey is wider than the lower and is supported by columns. You see this basic set-up in the modern city centre; it makes a lot of sense in this climate. Shelter from the monsoon rain showers between January and April, shade from the scorching tropical sun throughout the rest of the year.

We were allowed to go inside some of the buildings, so we walked round one or two and admired the period furnishings and decoration.

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We liked the views out of the screen doors (which acted as windows on the upper floors), too. The combination of colourful wooden buildings, cobbled streets and original street lighting made it easy to picture the Guayaquil of the early 20th century. One exception to this was the plane we saw flying low over the river, coming in to land at the airport opposite!

We stopped for a snack and a drink at a collection of booths and tables in the square in front of the old Social Services building, then admired some tortoises crossing the path on our way into the Traditions Zone.

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This zone showcases the working life of rural, coastal people in Ecuador at the turn of the 20th century, when there was a boom in bananas, cacao and coffee. One group of people focused on is the Montubio, who to this day do a lot of ranching and hold rodeos, especially in Guayas province. The rodeo I went to last October in Salitre was a Montubio rodeo (you can read about this here). We looked round a colourful wooden landowner's house and a typical campesino (peasant) house made from wood, bamboo and wicker, admired a couple of peacocks and looked at aloe vera, cacti and many other aromatic, medicinal and edible plants within the ethnobotanical garden.

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I most definitely recommend this place if you are ever in Guayaquil and have half a day to spare away from the city centre!

Posted by 3Traveller 07:23 Archived in Ecuador Tagged birds turtles museum parrots botanical_gardens ecuador sloth flamingoes peacocks explorations guayaquil_historical_park peccary horned_screamers tapirs harpy_eagle central_american_agouti caimen traditional_customs Comments (0)

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