Guayaquil: Not So Scary!

Colegio Americano and all of Ecuador for that matter had a 5 day vacation this week. I spent one day in Guayaquil and a couple nights in Montañita. Surprisingly, I found myself wishing I had remained in Guayaquil for the whole holiday because I really took a liking to the city, probably because it looked like South Florida and reminded me of home.
From the moment we arrived, everything reminded me of Florida. The streets were lined with palm trees, the architecture looked the same, the air even smelled the same. A friend from my school used to live in Guayaquil and still has a lot of friends there, so we stayed in his old house. The house looked like every Florida home I grew up in, and the sound of the palm trees rustling in the wind made me really homesick. The first morning he took us to a breakfast cafe that looked just like Cafe du Monde in New Orleans!! We tried lots of different local foods, but the best was tigrillo, a bowl full of everything you could ever want for breakfast slopped on top of each other.

Tigrillo and fresh orange juice

To start off the day, we met a friend in downtown Guayaquil, which I actually thought was a lot prettier than downtown Quito. It has big, modern, grand government buildings. The central plaza had a cathedral, which is usual, but what was strange were the dozens of iguanas lounging about. And big ones! Some were bigger than the iguanas I used to see in the canals near my house growing up.

 Big iguanas just running around wild in the Central Plaza
There is a part of Guayaquil along the water called Malecon, it’s a relatively new pier that you can walk along with shopping malls, gardens, exhibits, boats, food courts, etc. Although it was a hot day, we walked up and down for a few hours checking out museums, botanical gardens, an art installation suspiciously supportive of the President, and the surrounding neighborhoods. One of the nearby areas was called Las Peñas and it reminded me of some of the Eastern European Old Towns, winding cobblestone roads overlooking the sea. Apparently it’s a fun place to hang out at night but we were there during a vacation when everyone leaves the city for small beach towns.

Malecon- Doesn't it look straight out of Miami?

 Las Peñas neighborhood
The first museum we went to had historical artifacts downstairs and creepy religious artwork upstairs. I say creepy because it was pretty much all paintings of bleeding religious figures, and my friend found a sword propped up behind one of the artworks. The second museum was actually really cool. It was a history of the city of Guayaquil told through miniature dioramas. While I do love looking at historical objects, I don’t normally learn as much as I would like to in foreign museums due to the language barrier. This second museum, however, told the story of Guayaquil without needing any language whatsoever.

Museum of religious paintings... my favorite... 

 Freedom for Ecuadorians!!
To end our trip to Guayaquil, the host of the house we were staying at had hired two chefs to cook up 90 fresh crabs for 12 people! Crabs are my favorite food on the planet, so I was a like a kid on Christmas Eve all day long. I got to meet teachers from Colegio Americano de Guayaquil; they were an awesome bunch. It’s fun to find little pockets of expatriates among these incredibly foreign places. Guayaquil felt strangely at home the whole time I was there though, and maybe I had my guard down a bit too much because I felt comfortable, but I didn’t see the horror stories I have always heard about the city. In fact, I would love to return sometime.

 Live crabs! Give me a nutcracker and some butter and I'm good to go!

 Great company at dinner in Guayaquil


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