Whew, the travel warnings for most of Ecuador create expectations of getting robbed while walking the streets. Don’t take out your cellphone for photo while near a crowd. Don’t carry anything you are not prepared to lose to a thief, etc., a theme of petty crime from knife wielding thieves emerges. We hope that common travel sense prevails.
Our upscale hotel has a room with a view of the main cathedral next to Parque Bolivar, better known as Iguana Park.
Off we go, for a walk on the Malecon along the Rio Guayas. Hyacinths float on top of the current while shops and an amusement park pop up along tastefully constructed walkways.
Stifling heat competes with humidity for our sweat and exhaustion. Entering a shopping mall brings instant relief with air conditioning. We figure that our bodies are simply adjusting to the climate. Peculiar that in a country where males average five feet four inches tall, and females five feet, that most mannequins are massive, towering well over six feet!
About three o’clock in the morning the bed shakes us out of it, to the floor. Earthquake! I’m looking for my pants and Mare yells, “We’ve got to get out now!” Down the stairwell we go from the 7th floor, along with a line of others, one guy wearing only a towel. We stand on the sidewalk below the high rises for an hour or so until it’s safe to go back in. Later we learn that we’d have been better off staying inside rather than taking stairs to the street where falling debris could bury us. Wouldn’t hotel staff know this? I guess that timing and luck is everything in such a situation. This 8.0 earthquake originated in northern Peru about 300 miles away.
The next day a local resident, Vicki, who is a friend of a friend, picks us up at the hotel and takes us to her house for lunch, which is the main meal of the day in Ecuadorian culture. During last night’s earthquake she didn’t even get out bed they are so common. “This was a very strong one that lasted about two minutes,” she says. “Usually I’d go into the bathroom. If I get buried in debris, at least I’ll have water.”
She and her maid serve us a delicious, typical meal of seco de pollo (chicken stew) with avocado salad and ripe sautéed plantain and rice.
She’s concerned about our safety. “I was so worried that you got robbed when you didn’t respond to my calls last night.” Thankfully, we were simply sleeping from jet lag.
“There are no rules driving these roads,” Vicki says. “Ecuadorians are the nicest folks in the world until they get behind the wheel of car where they make up new rules.”
Vicki arranged a driver to take us to the laid-back beach town of Canoa. We are grateful to this charming woman for her hospitality and genuine concern for our welfare.
Yes, even in this huge city, we realize that Ecuadorians are indeed very nice, friendly folks. It shocks us that there is neither begging, nor aggressive vendors. We don’t feel threatened at all but still remain vigilant.
Perhaps the earthquake initiated the aftershocks occurring inside of Mare’s intestines. More likely it had something to do with the breakfast buffet. I join her the following day when we both come down with the aching cramps of traveler’s diarrhea.
We’re stuck in the hotel room close to the bathroom for an entire day. To make matters worse, the only English-speaking channel on television is repetitive CNN. Some folks advised us that five days in Guayaquil might be too long, but not if you spend one day in bed. At least we’re in the comfort of a nice hotel room with air conditioning.
Cannot leave town without walking the 465-step Santa Ana hill, which brings you through Las Penas and Cerro Santa Ana.
The area used to be a dangerous shanty town, now converted into a tourist walk, lined with shops, bars, and restaurants. Sweating like pigs but walking like angels, we reach the top, quite sodden. The reward for climbing pays off with sweeping views of the city.
Finally feeling better, we finish our visit in Guayaquil at the market devouring fresh traditional shrimp ceviche and seco de chiva (goat stew).
Well, here we go the next morning, flying up the Ruta del Mar, around twisty hills and blind corners for seven hours with Mario Andretti behind the wheel. It doesn’t bother us because the aliens have returned to our stomachs and we think they are doing laundry, by hand. Please drive faster “Mario” as a fart we dare not trust.
Canoa welcomes us in a room with a view of the longest beach in Ecuador. If only the aliens will leave our stomachs!
Thank you, Abundant Universe.