My anticipation of a sunny blue sky day was very short lived as I awoke to a grey sky and torrential rain on Wednesday. I procrastinated the sight seeing and sat on the patio, under cover, having breakfast and catching up with the world. When I deemed that it had stopped raining sufficiently for me to venture out, it was about midday.
I meandered along the Malecon, which had been part of an urban revitalisation project and is now a very pleasant place to walk. The theme appears to be sails, as there are various sail like towers along the promenade for people to climb and admire the view. They seem to be extremely popular with courting couples, Ecuadorians obviously not having any qualms about demonstrating their affections in public.
At the end, I had a quick look at the Artisanal Market, which proffered the same products as every other one, and then decided to take the double decker sightseeing bus for the one and a half hour tour. Whilst there was an English commentary, it was hard to hear and distinguish the words, so I am non the wiser about the city. There were very few passengers and we got our exercise by climbing up and down the stairs during and after the rain showers.
By the time we returned to the Malecon, the rain was torrential once again and we were getting quite wet just sitting in the downstairs deck of the bus as the water poured through the (closed) windows!
I waited for some time before getting off, in the hope that the rain would ease. It didn’t! I eventually ran towards some shops that offered some shelter under the veranda and made my way up the street until the veranda finished. And there I waited for about 3/4 hour, along with hordes of others, watching the rain pour down. The drainage system obviously couldn’t cope and the water was rising in the street. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t going to ease and I was just going to have to take the plunge and start wading (literally) my way back to the hostel.
In a very short space of time, I was extremely wet and, by this time, also hungry, so I stopped at a pizza place and ate a couple of slices, sitting in the shop, with water pouring down my face. I also squelched my way into the Cathedral for a quick look and then into the park outside, to see the land iguanas that live there. There are very few places in the world where iguanas live in the middle of the city! Once back in my room, I warmed up in the shower and then had a beer on the terrace. At least I had seen a little of Guayaquil.
Thursday wasn’t exactly brimming with sunshine but it wasn’t actually raining as I caught a taxi to the bus terminal. I was heading for Ballenita, a small village on the coast, but wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there. I needn’t have worried. There was a very luxury bus to Santa Elena, which has a large bus terminal, from where the local buses run every 5 minutes to Ballenita. The journey to Santa Elena was quite boring, through flat, very dry countryside. I had a young Ecuadorian man next to me, who attempted conversation but, unfortunately, my Spanish failed me and I wasn’t really in the mood for in depth conversation. Bus journeys are for quiet reflection, as far as I am concerned! We also had a loud, fairly silly, Spanish dubbed American cop film showing, which he thought was hilarious.
Once in Ballenita, I had a hot walk to the accommodation I had booked for, by now, the sun was shining. Within 200 metres of the bus stop, I was asked for money by 2 people, which did not endear me to the place immediately. I had wanted to stay in a non touristy place and this was certainly one although they must have encountered a few as they knew to ask for dollars.
The studio room, however, is wonderful, with a full kitchen and bathroom and distant view of the sea. The most important appliance in the whole place though is the fridge. This means the ability to make tea and coffee at any time and to have cold wine, water and beer. What luxury!
After settling in, I walked back down to the bus stop, via the Malecon, which had seen better days, and caught the bus to La Libertad to do some shopping.
This has a long Malecon and quite a few local people were under umbrellas on the beach. I would have to say though that neither the Ballenita nor Libertad beach appealed to me. I am far too spoiled by New Zealand beaches.
I stocked up on a few essential supplies and then caught the bus back to Ballenita and ‘home’ where I was able to sit on my small balcony and admire the sunset over the distant Salinas, through the many electrical cables that adorn the streets, with a glass of wine in hand. Excellent!