For our first day in Ecuador, we explored a small part of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city.
We are staying at Hostal Perla Real Inn, less than 2 km from the airport. I selected it because our flight didn’t land until close to midnight, so we wanted something lined up to go straight to rather than trying to find a place in the middle of the night. The hotel is nice enough; it is clean and well-equipped with air conditioning, in-room fridge, good wi-fi, bathroom with hot water and bathtub, a good free breakfast, and a swimming pool. You’ll need to be a sound sleeper, though; the traffic noise is loud enough that even I could hear it pretty well without my hearing aids on. Overall we liked the place enough to get a second night, mostly out of convenience, even though we could probably find cheaper places downtown.
I’ve been to Guayaquil once before, on the way back from the Galápagos Islands, but that was 6 years ago now. I remember we had spent most of the time at a place called the Malecón, and that it was pleasant enough and worth showing to Keith. We hopped on a city bus and paid our $0.25 fare and when I saw something I thought I recognized, we got off. We walked and walked…the place seemed familiar but I wasn’t recognizing it, and there was not enough water. I remember there being a huge bay–or perhaps the river was much wider, and that there were tour boats and lots of shops–but this just wasn’t it. We followed the river downstream, where I reasoned it would open up to the larger bay, and then the boardwalk just ended at a bridge. We considered exploring beyond, but a local cautioned us to turn back. “¡Peligroso!” he warned! (Dangerous!) He told us to stay on the Malecón. So we turned around and walked back the other way on the Malecón. Eventually I reasoned that I must be coming down with Alzheimer’s or something because the Malecón just was not how I remembered it. But it was still very nice, and we walked and walked.
The path branches off up another narrower river and goes past the Universidad de Guayaquil. As we started down that branch of the river, we came across a man reaching into a mango tree with a long pole. We approached. “¿Qué está haciendo?” I asked him (What are you doing?). He turned around to look at us and flashed a broad smile. “¡Cogiendo mangos!” (Picking mangos.) He poked at a mango with his pole and it came falling down. He picked it up and offered it to us with a huge smile. We thanked him and happily ate the fresh, tree-ripened mango as we continued down the path past many iguanas and pairs of college students in love, and a fun sculpture of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.
At an internet cafe, while we looked up information on buses, we discovered why the Malecón didn’t look right: there are 2 in Guayaquil! We were on the Malecón Salado, and the previous place I had been was the Malecón 2000. Oh well. We discovered a new place and had fun interacting with a local, eating his mango, and watching iguanas.