The Journey Begins
Thanks for joining me! I hope you enjoy the trip!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Where to begin, where to begin…
This will chronicle Journey # 30 or so. We will add earlier Journeys as time allows. This Journey starts in Los Angeles and we board our plane to our first stop in Panama City where we change planes and continue on to Guayaquil, Ecuador. A hot, humid, river and oceanside city that has its own appeal. Our red-eye flight drops us on the ground running and we look for our driver to take us to our hotel. It always includes a moment of concern while we hope our tour guide remembers we are arriving. But then we see the driver with our name on his sign and the relief sets in. The hustle and bustle of the airport left behind, we chat amiably with our driver (who doesn’t speak a lick of English) the best we can. Oh thank you, technology, for all those translation apps!
He takes us to our hotel only to find we don’t have reservations. Hmmm, is it time to panic yet? In further investigation, it turns out our reservations are for the Windham Garden Hotel, not the Windham Hotel. Who’d have though there would be two similar sister hotels in the same third world city? Okay, problem solved, but our hotel is on the other side of the city. Luckily, because they are sister hotels, they offer their shuttle to deliver us. After another hour, we are finally settled into our rooms. Relaxation sets in, but only for a few minutes. We are on vacation in an exotic place and there is no time to spare to check out the new city!
Ok, we’re checked in to our hotel! No time to relax, let’s go see this place! Downtown Guayaquil, Ecuador! A quaint town on the west coast of Ecuador that lies mostly on a river that runs through it. The Rio Guayas! A short walk from our hotel, we find the Parque Bolivar, honoring the one and only Simon Bolivar, a famous hero here.
On the west side of Parque Bolívar is the “Catedral Metropolitana de Guayaquil” cathedral originally built in 1547 as a wooden building – however, like much of Guayaquil, it was destroyed by fire. The present structure, completed in 1948 and renovated in 1978, is simple and modern, despite an extremely ornate front entrance.
Inaugurated in 1895 it was originally called the “Seminario Park”, in honor of a donation made by Miguel Suarez Seminario. It is the home of the great Liberator, Simon Bolivar and is also known as the “Park of the Iguanas” because a great number of these prehistoric reptiles make their habitat in these gardens and trees. Yes, I said trees. It can be a little creepy to look up and see these creatures looking down at you. I hope they can’t jump! They are Green Iguanas also known as the Iguanas of Guayaquil.
Ecuadorian places like to put these big bold signs to remind you of where you are! Really fun to check out and visit!
You may even see the “Q”uirky lady that I go everywhere with! My wife and love, Elee!
Enough about the history, our intrepid group of travelers continues touring the area, noting the colorful crosswalks, statues and sights as we find the “Malecon”, a broad Esplanade, Roadway and Seawall on the coast, in this case, on the Rio Guayas.
We encountered Vendors of all kinds, a Food Court, boats along the river and locals and tourists alike walking about enjoying themselves! One of the most striking features we witnessed was the cleanliness of the streets. There was a lack of litter or graffiti of any kind, which was quite wonderful to see and in stark contrast to what we anticipated!
Then, we were told, there was a hill to climb with a view from the top! Well, don’t tell a photographer twice! But my traveling group was of the same mind, so off we went in search of the hill. Again, strikingly clean streets which was not what we expected to see in a 3rd world country! And, you’ll notice, we came across the sign that marked the beginning of the steps up the hill. Hey, what? The beginning? What is the hill we’ve been climbing to get to the bottom?
Very colorful buildings on the way up, laundry hanging out to dry, people milling everywhere! Vendors approached us at every turn, trying to get customers to buy their wares! Restaurants and Bars tried to pull up in, but we were forced to inform them that if we joined them for a local concoction, we might not make it to the top!
So, the climb continued, until we reached what we thought was the top. You might notice the steps were numbered (which I’m sure saved many an argument later, especially after some of those bars refreshed weary travelers! Alas, at the top was a tower that offered even more spectacular views! So, of course, we had to climb another 150 (or so) more steps to make it to the actual top! (Click on the pictures for a larger view!)
But the views were quite worth it! You might notice one of the photos from the top includes a view of a future hotel (tall building) that we would be in tomorrow.
Then, you might ask, what’s the deal with the couple having an intimate moment? Well, anyone who gets to know me, knows that everywhere I go, I always find pairs of lovers to photograph!
The last photo??? What is that??? There is a story there too! This picture has a story to it. We heard about this restaurant in the back streets of Guayaquil and we located it and ate there. Good food! On the menu, they offered red and white wine. Elee ordered a glass of white wine. No problem! Next thing we know, the waiter gets in a car (The restaurant was open air on the street) and leaves. About 30 minutes later he returns with a bottle of Chardonnay (which he clearly went to a store to buy) and then they served us our drinks, LOL. Then, after we were done, we asked the restaurant to call us a taxi. So the waiter walked into the street and called out to his friends to see who wanted to be a taxi for us! So one of his friends became our taxi back to our hotel. Are we crazy or what????
Our appetizer? Deep fried zucchini slices topped with local cheese and some kind of bread topping. Yum!
The local police greeted us as we left the bar!
See you in the morning!