Ecuador Day 2: Walking around Guayaquil

We had breakfast at the hotel. The selection wasn’t big but it was enough for me. I don’t have a huge appetite in the mornings anyway. I tried a little bit of everything. I took some rice, pork stew, lentils, scrambled eggs, pineapple bread pudding and a pastry filled with minced nuts. Everything tasted quite nice. I wished I could take another helping of the pork stew as it was quite tasty. But I’m full already.

After breakfast, we left the hotel and walked to Parque Seminario which was home to many green iguanas. We saw many iguanas around the park, lying on the grass and pavement and trees. Basically anywhere there was a bit of sunshine. They were quite used to humans and were indifferent to our presence. They remained very still, basking in the sun and only moved when we got too close for comfort.

I read online that tourists could buy mango slices from vendors to feed the iguanas but I guess we were too early as I didn’t notice any vendors.

In the middle of the small park was a statue of Simón Bolívar who played a key role in liberating Latin America from Spanish rule. An iguana was dozing at the base of the statue which amused me very much.

After leaving the park, we continued eastwards, passing by Palacio Municipal where there was another statue of Simón Bolívar (I think).

We reached Malecón 2000 which was a 2.5km long boardwalk along the Guayas River. The river was very wide and the water was brownish. There was a lot of facilities along the boardwalk for the locals to enjoy, like playground, exercise corner, park and theater.

Along the boardwalk were colorful horse statues painted by local artists. They reminded me of the lion statues that Singaporean celebrities painted for one of the National Days. KKH had no recollection of it and they reminded her of the colorful bull statues instead.

We continued walking along Malecón 2000 until we reached the northern end. Across the road was Las Peñas, a historical neighborhood with narrow walkways and brightly colored houses. People still lived in some of these 400-year-old houses while others have been converted to art galleries, shops and restaurants.

We had to climb a lot of steps to reach the top and needless to say, I felt quite tired by the end of it. Although there were signs along the way to direct us to the summit, sometimes KKH and I got distracted by some sight and wandered off the designated path. But we were seldom lost for long. The policemen patrolling the area helpfully pointed us back in the correct direction.

At the top was a tower and a church. We climbed up the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower to take a look. It was windy at the top of the tower and we had a good view of the city.

After we left Las Peñas, we had lunch at Poly Restaurant, a local eating house. Many locals and nearby office workers ate there. We were served by a cheerful waiter who handed us the menu. He tried his best to be helpful even though he spoke no English. KKH and I spent a long time deciphering the menu which was in Spanish. Luckily we brought along a Lonely Planet guidebook which listed the names of some food in Spanish.

Finally I ordered a mixed ceviche which was served cold. My mixed ceviche contained prawns and cockles cured in lime juice. The acidity of the lime juice sort of “cooked” the seafood so they did not taste raw at all. It was quite nice and tasted salty and sour. There were a lot of prawns and cockles.

The ceviche came with some mashed plantains. I still felt that plantains were bland and not very nice but I discovered that it helped to take a bite of the plantains when the sourness of the ceviche got to me.

After lunch we continued southwards and came to a convenience store which had large 1 litre bottles of water on their shelves. We bought two bottles. I did not want to carry a heavy bottle of water around with me so we left them at the hotel.

Then we walked to Plaza Del Centenario which was a big square with a tall column in the center. At the top of the column was a female figure. There were a lot of people sitting in the park and it seemed to be a popular gathering place.

We continued on and came to a local market. It was a tall boxy building and four entrances, one on each side. Inside was dim with narrow, twisting passageways crammed with stalls. A lot of local produce was sold there, including chocolate in its raw form. I lost my bearings when we exited the building and we had to ask one of the policemen nearby for directions back to the hotel.

Dinner was at one of the hotel’s restaurants called 1822. It was a French restaurant with a Mexican decor. We were the only customers there that night. We were served bread with butter and chicken liver pate. The chicken liver pate was very nice. The pate went so well with the bread that we totally ignored the butter.

I had the mixed grill which consist of beef, pork ribs and chicken. I think Ecuadorians really knew how to grill meats as the beef and ribs were tasty. The chicken was not bad too but who bothers with chicken when there is steak? For those who wanted to know, yes, I ate all my veggies.

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