"" Writer's Wanderings: World Cruise - Guayaquil, Ecuador

Monday, February 02, 2015

World Cruise - Guayaquil, Ecuador

There is no way an English speaking person can pronounce the name of this city and make it sound as beautiful as it does rolling off the tongue of an Ecuadorian. The night before our arrival, we did our turns around the Promenade Deck and watched the lights on the shore and the green and red buoys pass by as we made our way down a river and canal to the port area of Guayaquil. We arrived at 3AM in order for many who had booked all-day excursions or the overnight that was offered to be on their way. Some were traveling to Galapagos and I wondered how in the world they could possibly see enough in one day. Others were going to an overnight adventure at a lodge and rejoining the ship in Callao (Lima).
Our excursion was under way by 9AM and we were introduced to the city by a very personable tour guide who spoke excellent English and was quite knowledgeable. He was very proud of the way his city has come back from some very hard times and is beginning to look truly beautiful now that there is good city management. Some of what he said and what we saw reminded me of home and the comeback that Cleveland has made.

We passed a beautiful area by the river that had a boardwalk with lots of gardens, shops and restaurants. I was almost wishing we had opted for a shuttle ride to town and a walk in that area but our guide assured us that the natural park we were going to was as beautiful and even more interesting.

It took almost an hour in traffic to get to the park and rained a bit along the way. We were packing parkas and umbrellas but I hoped it would stop so I didn’t have to worry about the camera. It did make taking pictures out the bus window a bit tricky.

Mangos were in season and dotted most of the trees we saw along the way. While all the homes still had bars at the windows and fences with sharp pointy tops, some of them were quite lovely to look at. A couple of hills we passed had poorer housing but it was very colorful with hues of pink, blue, green and yellow.

We arrived at the park behind a group of school children eager to see the animals. The park was a bit like a zoo with otters, parrots, deer, an ocelot, tapirs, sloths and some warthogs. It was a more natural setting to show what the area looked like before settlement. I found it interesting that the exhibits had signs explaining what we were looking at in printed form as well as braille in several different languages.

Along the way our guide pointed out the palm plant that is used in the making of Panama hats. The leaves are not used but rather the stems are cut and shredded to make the material that is then woven into the hats that are so popular.

Palm used for Panama hats.

The cultural part of the park showed homes restored from the 1800s and a beautiful old church that was reconstructed. It took us about two hours to explore the whole park and then we were on our way. Oh, and none of the exploring was in the rain or a hot steamy sun. We couldn’t have asked for more.

The drive back through town was much of the same as we retraced our route. Our guide pointed out the drop place for the shuttle from the ship but when I timed our return from there, a half hour, I decided it wasn’t worth hurrying back again since it wouldn’t allow enough time to explore before the last shuttle returned to the ship. Perhaps we’ll visit Guayaquil again sometime.

Sail away was not scheduled to take place until 9PM to allow time for the return of the Galapagos people. The evening had no main show but the lounges were open with the band, piano, and the quartet playing. There was a movie showing in the theater but we didn’t recognize it and opted to get a DVD from the library and watch one ourselves. We spent the evening watching Fool’s Gold in our room and breaking for a short intermission to watch the sail away when we heard Louis Armstrong singing.

It was a relaxing evening and we were ready to hit the open sea again the next day.

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