Ecuador Day 1: Landed in Guayaquil

We landed at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil after 6am. The airport was named after the first mayor of Guayaquil who was also a former president of Ecuador.

There was a bit of difficulty getting through the Immigration. The officer looked at my passport and didn’t know how to process it. I guess not many Singaporeans visited this part of the world. It took a while before the officer decided to stamp my passport.

I was a little disappointed to find out that it was a computer printout and not a stamp. While I was waiting with KKH to collect our luggage, the officer came with another colleague. He asked for my passport again and the colleague checked through it. After seeing that everything was in order, they bade me goodbye. I asked KKH if she had any problems at the Immigration and she said the officer who attended to her asked a senior and more experienced colleague who then let her through. I grumbled that next time KKH can go through the Immigration first and answer all the questions.

We took a taxi to our hotel, Grand Hotel Guayaquil. The taxi driver spoke no English and we spoke no Spanish so we had a bit of difficulty communicating with each other. We passed him the address of the hotel and he tried to recommend a cheaper one. We declined because we had already paid for the hotel as part of the package from Adventure Life.

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The staff at the hotel spoke very good English, which was a relief. We were able to check in immediately. Good, I needed a bath. I felt dirty after spending 25 hours on the plane. We took turns to bathe and then decided that since it was still early, we would rest in the room first and walk around the city later. The room was big and we had a queen-sized bed each. So shiok! KKH fell asleep first. Since she looked tired, I didn’t have the heart to wake her up and decided to just let her sleep. I finished my book at 3pm. Since I did not have a good sleep on the plane and was feeling a bit tired myself, I closed my eyes and slept too.

We woke up at 5:30pm and left the hotel. Our first task was to buy some water. The hotel staff advised us not to drink from the tap, even if we boiled the tap water. So we had to buy bottled water. A 500ml bottle cost around USD 0.30 which was cheaper than the €1.50 we had to pay in for the same amount in Amsterdam. The owner of the shop where we bought the bottled water from saw KKH’s wallet when she paid for the drinks and advised us not to keep our money in our wallets. Apparently in Ecuador, having a wallet meant that you have a lot of money. I thought it was nice of her to warn us.

We walked around aimlessly for a while. There were few traffic lights for pedestrian crossing so we just followed the locals and crossed the road as and when. Even when there were pedestrian crossings, nobody seemed to follow it very strictly. It wasn’t hard to walk around Guayaquil because the city was laid out very neatly in a grid. It was harder than we expected to find convenience stores to buy bottled water. There were shops but most of them sold clothing, accessories and shoes. When we came across places that sold bottled water, there were only small 500ml bottles available, no big 1L bottles. I guess the locals just drink from the tap. It’s us foreigners, with our delicate stomachs, who needed to drink bottled water.

Another thing that I read about Ecuador is that their sewage system is not powerful so we should not flush toilet paper down the toilet bowls as it could clog up the pipes. We had to throw the used toilet paper into the covered bin in the restrooms which were emptied at least once a day. It felt strange at first because I was so used to throwing the toilet paper down the toilet bowl. But when in Rome, do as Romans do.

We had dinner at La Canoa which was located at Hotel Continental. The staff at our hotel said it served local cuisine so we decided to give it a try. Thankfully they had an English version of the menu. We were given bread, butter and a small pot of something spicy and sour which seemed to be a local hot sauce.

For dinner, I had a traditional dish which consisted of rice with lentils, grilled beef and plantains. The lentils were soft, mushy and salty. They were too salty to eat on their own but the rice balanced out the lentils’ saltiness. Despite the huge serving of lentils, I managed to finish them because they go so well with the rice.

I liked the grilled beef which was just simply sprinkled with salt. It was tender and flavorful and cooked just right. I didn’t like the deep fried plantains as I found them hard, starchy and bland.

We also had a large glass of fruit juice each. Altogether dinner cost around USD 23. After dinner, we walked back to our hotel. It was already dark, most of the shops were closed or closing and there were not many people on the streets. It seemed that the locals do not stay out late after dark so we also hurried back to the hotel.

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