Thursday, June 7, 2007

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Fresh from a week and a half in the States, I arrived in Guayaquil on Tuesday afternoon, found a hostel (Dreamkapture), ate some shrimp ceviche--what I missed in Peru-- and took a nap.

Some History

The city was founded on 7/25/1537 as Santiago de Guayaquil by Francisco de Orellana. The name honored local chieftan Guayas and his wife Quail who killed themselves rather than be captured by the Spanish. It soon became an important port, but was held back by pillaging, and outbreaks of typhoid, yellow fever, and smallpox.

On 10/9/1820, Guayaquil was the first city in Ecuador to declare independence, and General Sucre (Bolivar´s right hand man) based his liberation campaign from here. Later, it was the site of an historic meeting between Bolivar and San Martin when their forces converged from north and south, effectively signifying the liberation of the continent.

In 1896 a fire destroyed 70% of city, but the banana boom in 40s helped bring it back.

Malecon 2000

Since my friend Dave was due to arrive on Wednesday night, I took the day to explore the city. I took a taxi to the development along the Rio Guayas known as Malecon 2000. The city put a lot of money into making this a clean, safe, and attractive place and it shows (much of the rest of Guayquil is dirty and crime-plagued).

My first stop was La Plaza Civica, and the first major attraction is La Rotunda. This is a statue commemorating the July 1822 meeting in Guayaquil of the two major ¨Liberadores¨of South America, Simon Bolivar (on the left) and General San Martin (on our right).

Next was a series of monuments to the four elements. This shot gives a nice view of the development with the rotunda in the background and one of the wooden monuments in the foreground:

Next was a Moorish clock tower and Plaza de Olmeda:

Then, some beautiful botanic gardens:

La Pena

Next, I walked through the La Pena neighborhood at the northern end of Malecon. This used to be a slum, but was revitalized by government funding. As you can see the 400-something steps up the neighborhood and to the Cerro de Santa Anna at the top are numbered. I thought that was kind of cool.

The Cerra de Santa Ana is a hill with a church, a lighthouse, a small outdoor museam with pirates and cannons prominently featured, and some great views of the city. Here are some shots I took there:

As I was descending and getting ready to catch a cab back to the hostel to go for a run, get some food, and wait for Dave, I heard a commotion coming from a bar. It was only 6pm, but it sounded like people were really partying. I walked upstairs, opened the door and spilled in to a birthday party for a 20 year old woman named Lizzett. Everyone immediately beckoned me in, pushed me onto the dance floor and offered me beer.

Not one to disappoint my hosts, I drank ¨some¨beer and stayed until the end of the party. Here´s the birthday girl (in white) with her friend Soledad:

The party broke up around 10pm and I grabbed some food and headed back to my hostel to wait for Dave. I waited up until 2am, but he didn´t show. The next morning I checked my email and saw that he´d had some difficulties with his passport (otherwise known as losing it) and wasn´t able to board his flight to Ecuador. Oh, well. He should be here tomorrow...


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