02:15.0S 79:50.8W Guayaquil two days lookabout

Thu 14 Apr 2016 23:19
12th April

Yesterday we left hot & humid Bahia in a Reina del Camino, Queen of the Road, coach passing donkeys grazing the roadside towards Guayaquil. Cattle grazed in fields, each with their single white egret companion.  Plump horses and more private car ownership suggested a more affluent population than near the coast.

Stalls alongside the road on our 5 hour journey, complete with stainless steel gas ovens, where individual portions of local food were cooked to sell to passers by. A man with basket full of mashed yucca buns filled with cheese and fried came aboard and we each tried one. They were hot, tasty and filling.

In our room in the Hampton Inn Hotel downtown Guayaquil we found all our clothes were damp from the humid atmosphere on the coast. We didn't notice then because we also were damp. We soon had the room looking like a Chinese laundry as the dried off!

After dark we walked along the Malecon 2000 (waterfront) which reminded me a little of the Bund in Shanghai. Police and security guards everywhere made it a safe place for families with children of all ages. We took a good look at a fine square rigger before wandering home to the sounds of "agua agua" from the numerous water sellers. No one drinks the tap water here.

Today we got to grips with the list of things to do and visit supplied by a charming tourist adviser we found in a museum of modern art. Life size models of contemporary people and their activities stood and sat in front of superb colour and black and white photos of folk Al fresco.

Our first port of call was the park full of Iguanas. They are such trusting and placid creatures, even when a father let his child hold up its tail the Lizard could have whipped it away, but it didn't move.

We made short work of the lovely light cathedral before walking to the old part, Santa Ana hill and climbing the 444 steps to the lighthouse and chapel on the top. Fine views of course, muddy rivers full of strips of water hyacinth flowing up with the rise and down with the ebb tide, egrets balancing procariously on top.

In a bar on the way down men were busy demolishing a wall and a very old man carried plastic barrels of rubble through the bar and threw it out of the window. The Pilsner beer was useful in washing the dust off our teeth!

Guyaquil is in a state of transition towards more tourism and they need more quality restaurants. On our first evening we ordered pizza in a Pizza Hut, which was nice but there was very little choice on the menu. We'd have preferred some salad instead of the free pizza we were inexplicably given. As we ate a little girl came and watched us through the grill while her wheel chair bound father sold lottery tickets outside to make a tiny income.

As we walked the few doors back to the hotel, we saw her again and Rob leaned forward, offering her the pizza in its box. With big brown trusting eyes and an innocence as yet unspoiled by her street life, she slowly took the pizza from Rob's hands.