After a lovely long sleep in to recover from the very late night last night (we finally fell into bed at 2.37am) we planned a lazy day today … that’s how I probably should be starting this post! However what actually happened was less sensible but more fun. I’ll start again.
Many of our fellow Galapagos travellers are staying at this hotel, and were meeting for breakfast at 8am. We were keen to join them and set our alarms accordingly. There was a wedding on in the hotel, and we finally fell asleep to the sound of loud Latin music so when the alarm went off it didn’t feel like much time had passed. Oh that’s right – it hadn’t! Breakfast was good & it was great to meet David, Karen, Vicki, Russell, Noel & Jenny and reconnect with Max, Chris & Jess. Still waiting for a few stragglers to arrive in town.
Across the road from the hotel is a park called (I think unofficially, but I’m not quite sure) the Iguana Park, because of the number of Iguanas that live there. As keen wildlife photographers that was too good an opportunity to pass up, so we scooted over there after breakfast. I was surprised to see large numbers of them in the trees, as well as on the grass. We took, you won’t be surprised to hear, a number of photos.
Next to the park is the Guayaquil’s main Cathedral, so we popped in for a visit. The original wooden cathedral had been destroyed by fire, this one dates from 1948, though it is in the Gothic Style. From there we headed to the riverfront, where an extensive development has turned a rather shady district into a lovely riverfront walk called Malecon 2000, with boardwalks, lagoons, playgrounds, cafes, museums, an Imax etc. A delightful stroll, although it was already warming up. The weather wasn’t the greatest for sight-seeing, it was hot and muggy, and very hazy.
One of the highlights of a visit to Guayaquil is the walk (climb) to the lighthouse at Santa Ana, through the historic neighbourhood called Las Peñas. This 400 year old district has been somewhat renovated with the houses painted bright colours. There are many artists and galleries there, as well as a vibrant night-life. The steps are even numbered, and in the heat it was a bit of a slog, but the view from the top was incredible. My favourite part though was walking through the narrow lanes and pretty coloured houses of this old section of town.
Having reached the top (and I got Keith to take my photo next to sep #444 to prove it) we looked for a shady spot for a cool drink. There are lots of tiny bars / cafes which look like the resident has opened up a room of their house to make some money. We chose one with a great view and playing the nicest Latin music, and ordered a drink. The waitress, who looked about 15, didn’t speak any English and we don’t know any Spanish, so communicating was challenging. She didn’t even understand “Coca Cola” which I thought was a universal language these days. So we ended up with a bottle we thought was cider but turned out to be beer. Not quite what I had in mind but cold and wet, and we had a great table on the verandah. We decided to brave it and order some lunch. We knew ‘pollo’ means chicken but had no idea what we were ordering. It turned out to be Arroz con Menestra y Pollo Asada – which Wikipedia says is the most traditional food of Ecuador – delicious grilled chicken with lovely spices, rice and beans. Really tasty. And cheap – $9 for 2 meals and 2 beers.
We came down the hill a different route, and enjoyed more stairs and more charming vistas. But by then the late night was catching up with us and we decided to take up the local habit of a siesta. The air-con in our hotel room was very appealing. After a refreshing sleep we met the rest of the group for dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront. Keith and I decided to forego the all-you-can-eat-crab special and settled on seafood ceviche, also a local speciality. It was a fun evening catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones. There was a great atmosphere on the Malecon, with lots of people, music, children, lights and a general party atmosphere.
Tomorrow the real adventure begins as we fly to the Galápagos Islands first thing in the morning. Breakfast at 6, in the car by 6.40 to head to the airport. No rest for the wicked. We are all really excited and looking forward to the experiences we will enjoy there. Can’t wait!
PS If you’re wondering about my title, “why-a-kill” is the correct way to pronounce Guayaquil 🙂