Monday, March 6, 2023

February 8, 2023 – Guayaquil, Ecuador – Mostly Cloudy – 85F

Port Information. This is our first time in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Guayaquil is the second largest city in Ecuador with a population of about 3 million people.  It is situated on the Guayas River and the ship had to navigate the river to get to the city (like the Mississippi and New Orleans).  The city derived its name from two indigenous people, Guayas and Quil (F).  While tourism, is of course, the main industry, the country also exports some of the world’s best chocolate.  They also have fine coffee in Ecuador and for that reason, there are no Starbucks in Guayaquil or probably in the country. The country uses the US Dollar as its currency having done so to stop runaway inflation. 

There is no city view from the ship - the port is a ways from Centro. Here's a panoramic view of the Guayas River from Azamara Onward.

Another tour today – so 6:30AM Room Service – and a meeting time of 8:15 AM in the Cabaret Lounge. The tour is “Highlights of Guayaquil” and is considered a “mild” excursion on the activity scale.  

The tour departed for the bus right on time, and we grabbed an umbrella just in case there was an unexpected shower. The bus was new and comfortable and the ride from the pier (a commercial port) to the City Center took about 45 minutes.  Our guide was Alan, a young ex-teacher, who imparted a lot of information about the city and the country.  

Our tour also had a police escort – two cops (man and woman [in full makeup]) on a motorcycle and armed.  

When the bus stopped the cops stayed with the crowd and moved along with them.  In addition to our own police, the city had a heavy police presence with cops at practically every corner.

Our tour concentrated on about a four-by-four square block area of the downtown area.  This area contains the Malecon 2000 (River walkway), Barrio Las Penas, Plaza de la Administracion, and Pargue Seminario (or iguana park).  The map below shows the tour area.

The Malecon 2000 was an immaculately maintained park adjacent to the Guayas River.  There were workers weeding the plants and trimming the trees – the landscaping was just perfect.  

The Malecon also has a huge Ferris wheel, La Perla, that carries 36 cars and a total capacity of 216 people – the ride only takes 12 minutes – I don’t think it was running while we were there.

Across the street from Malecon 2000 is the Aerovia Station, where for 70 cents you can ride a cable tram across the Rio Guayas to the town of Duran (population 250,000); the Aerovia reportedly carries 40,000 people a day – that helps with the traffic situation.

There are some very nice homes that come right up to the river edge.  I'm guessing that these are pretty pricey considering the location.

From the Malecon area, you can get a good view of the homes on the distant hill.  They look like the Favelas of Rio but I am sure not sure that they are in that category.

Notice the figure at the right - this is a Lego like man who seems to be welcoming people to the Malecon.

But the big bonus on the Malecon was the City Sign.  I took shots of the sign and then one of our shipmates got us in the picture.

We stopped along the Malecon to view the Hemiciclio de la Rotunda

The structure consisted of a stage like setup adorned with flags (maybe the countries of South America) and idealized statues of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, the Libertadors of South America. The two men are seen shaking hands.  Very impressive monument.  There were simply too many people around (mostly from our tour) to get a clean shot of the statues.

We stopped next at the Barrio Las Penas. Alan told us that this used to be a poor area in the past but now it is a haven for artists and sports restaurants and bars.  It is famous for its numbered stairs - 444 of them - which are lit up at night. We did not climb those stairs.

I also took a picture of one of the locals before we left this location.

Our next stop was the Plaza de la Administracion

which is the site of several amazing statues and an impressive building known as the Municipal Palace of Guayaquil.  The building has high glass and iron ceilings, imported from Milan, and the Arosemena Passage

a breezeway reaching from each end of the building. Inside the passage, there is a statue of a man and a woman protected from visitors by a plexiglass barrier.  They depict Guayas and Quil, an indigenous Huancavilca  aboriginal couple (a pre-Columbian people who lived in Ecuador between 850-1600 BCE) for whom the city is named – maybe more myth than history.  Still the statue is impressive.

In the Plaza itself, there were a series of six statues – all women - depicting certain attributes of the Ecuadorian people.  “Generosidad”

depicted a woman with plates in her hands.  “Fortaleza” 

displaying power and strength; “Valor”; and “Freedom”.  There were a lot of locals sitting on the statues, so it was no easy task getting clean shots of the installations.  I was unable to get the two remaining statues, “Leadership” and “Courage” because the tour moved on.  There was another statue in a fountain (so it may not be part of the set) that I have not been able to identify.  Here it is.

Another nearby monument called “La Fragua de la Volcano” (“The Forge of Vulcan” based on a painting by Diego Velasquez 1630) which depicts a meeting of supporters of South American Democracy.  

I wasn’t quite sure of the connection between the God Apollo, the God Vulcan and the South American campaign for independence but the gathering of individuals in the painting and in the statue is similar.

Right outside the Municipal Palace is a large equestrian statue of Antonio Jose de Sucre, a Venezuelan revolutionary and close friend of Simon Bolivar. 

Sucre was the President of Peru and subsequently of Bolivia.

Our final stop was at the Parque Seminario, the site of both an enormous statue of Simon Bolivar and tons of iguanas.  

The lizards are literally everywhere (as is their poop) – they wander the park (and are maintained by park personnel) during the day and live in the trees at night.  

Because of the warm temperatures, they don’t need any warmup time. 

There were also turtles in a pond in the park (to keep the Iguanas company, I guess).

Also, present in the park today were two policemen (not our cops) along with a hand puppet, who took pictures with our group.  Maybe, this was a kind of community outreach thing.  Anyway, we did get a nice picture with the policemen.

As we exited the park, I couldn't help but notice how close the cars parked next to each other.  Here's the front and back view of the same car.  I can't imagine how the black car can get out of that space.

As we made our way to the bus and the trip home, I noticed a vendor selling masks on the street.  

During this outing, we had seen lots of locals wearing masks.  Alan told us that the Pandemic has had a lasting effect on the population of Guayaquil due to the large loss of life.  (in fact, there are numerous reminders around the city - like this one praising healthcare workers).

He related a sad story of several people trying to aid a handicapped person with COVID and how all those people succumbed to the virus.  People are still apprehensive and therefore the masks.  I checked the COVID stats in Ecuador and case numbers are slowly rising after a long lull.  Safety first.

We got back from our very nice tour of Guayaquil in time for lunch.  Lunch today was another made to order pasta prepared by my “personal Chef” Sarah.  She told me they had run out of tomato sauce and that cut up cherry tomatoes would make up the sauce.  Actually, this might have been better than the standard pasta – I like chunks of tomatoes in my pasta.

We have been spending a lot of time up in the Living Room (good views and the temperature control is good) so that’s where we went after lunch. 

Tonight is “White Nights”.  While the weather was almost perfect on our excursion by the time we got back to the ship, the clouds had rolled in, and the forecast was for rain and heavy at times.  Martin came on the PA and announced that the “White Nights” would be held in the Cabaret Lounge but that the extensive buffet would still be out in the Patio area of Deck 9.  The buffet is historically for carnivores, so we opted to go to the Discoveries Restaurant for dinner.  We ordered the Crispy Mushrooms off the Regular Menu.  I ordered the Gazpacho and Salmon (always available) for my dinner.  Ellen had a bunch of appetizers.  While my food came quickly and the mushrooms were good, Ellen’s mushroom took a while and when they arrived, they were a totally different dish than mine.  Apparently, our room number has a “vegan” tag, and the chef was concerned about the egg in the mushroom coating, so he conjured up an egg free version.  Ellen asked for the regular shrooms and they did come.  The gazpacho was thin and disappointing.  The fish was OK (they did not come with crushed potatoes, so I ordered some) and we had dessert from the Patio – crepes, the signature White Nights dish.

We got our usual seats in the Cabaret Lounge and while the cast gave it their all and the song lists were the same, the “White Nights” show is very different inside.  

We stayed for about an hour and then it was back to the room.

No comments:

Post a Comment