A day in Guayaquil.
Guayaquil Travel Blog› entry 2 of 26 › view all entries
January 16th, 2008 – by: gopackjo
I slept in a bit today. I woke up just in time to get my free breakfast at the hotel. I had to kick myself into spanish mode for breakfast. So far, in my short time in Guayaquil I have yet to find an english speaker. I guess that is to be expected, as this is not really a tourist town. Most foreign tourists are just stopping for a night, either here or in Quito, on the way to the Galapagos Islands.
My hotel is near the main university, and it is a pretty good neighborhood. The main problem is the proximity to the airport. Mine was likely the last flight to arrive last night, and I don't think there were any more departures, so I had yet to experience the sound.
After that I headed into downtown Guayaquil to check out the waterfront. The desk clerk said that the walk would take maybe 30 minutes, so I figured I would save the $2.50 or $3 that a taxi would cost. It was a nice walk, and the area I went through was made up of businesses and parks. I was amazed that there were street signs at every corner, a rarity in most countries (and places like Boston).
After a leisurely 45 minutes I arrived at the Malecon 2000, a three kilometer long promenade located on the banks the wide River Guayas.
After walking most of the length of the Malceon I ended up at the Parque Seminario, a lovely little urban park in front of a church. The park is known primarily for one thing, the iguanas. I haven't seen any numbers, but there were certainly over one hundred of the prehistoric looking creatures wandering about. Once on the ground they were scrutinized and photographed by a throng of happy onlookers. The lizards seemed to have become a bit jaded by the whole experience, but could still be roused into excitement by a banana, mango, or confused dog.
There was a television travel show being filmed while I was there, but I didn't recognize the host. They didn't get much success interacting with the critters until the sound man returned witha bunch of bananas. At that this bloke was surrounded by hungry iguana. I was surprised how the iguana never really fought each other for the food, they would just aggresively try to get at it. Even resorting to climbing onto suprised holders of food items.
After mustering some courage I was able to pet some of the larger, older iguana. The younger ones were a bit skittish, but I guess with old age comes the realization that most of these people are not going to do you harm. It was very cool to be so close to these critters, and the black squirrel and turtles. It wasn't the wild, but it's not likely I would have been anywhere near as close if it was.
I checked out a few other hotels, a couple of casinos, and some travel agencies to see what the area offered. The tours to the Galapagos were all pricey, and none of them included airfare or park admission. I went to the TAME airlines office and checked into flight only prices. They were also expensive, considering how cheap it is to fly anywhere else in Ecuador. I later learned that Ecuadorians pay half that price, and Galapagos residents pay 25% of the full foreigner price. Makes a little more sense now. I've run into two level pricing before, and it doesn't really bother me. But this is the first time I've seen it with airfares.
By the way... I love my new camera!! My old camera, a 3.1 megapixel with a 1" screen, had been slowly dying for a few years and is woefully outdated.
During the day I ate at a chain restaurant that served Brazilian style grilled meat. I got my own little grill at my table with beef, pork, chorizo, blood sausage, kidney, and what I think was an intestine with the business end still attached. The first three were fabulous, and I tried the kidney, but I wasn't even going to try the other two. I have a sense of food adventure, but I guess that was my limit with the other tasty options.
At night I walked over to a smaller, closer Malecon or an estuary of the Guayas. Not as busy or large as the 2000, but still nice and seemed very secure.
I think I've decided I'm going to just show up at the airport and try to get to the Galapagos tomorrow. All flights are full for the next few days, but there are cancellations and some tour agencies cancel their reserved spots when they don't sell. We'll see if I can do this on the cheap, or somewhere cheaper then the exorbitant prices I've been seeing. If not I'll lay on the beach over there instead of on the coast here. Wish me luck.
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