Published: May 26th 2012January 23rd 2012
It's hot. Beads of sweat drip down my face. Lost; I can't find my way around town. My 50 pound backpack is weighing heavy in the mid-day sun. I'm walking. Current mission; find a place to sleep. Smoggy air, trash-ridden sidewalks, traffic is bumper to bumper. First impression; I'm not getting good vibes from Guayaquil.
Three hours later I am here. I rest my bones and wait for the morning light...the monsters await. Leather skin, sharp claws, beady eyes. They stare you down; fearless creatures. I glance to my left and see one attack a child; the boy is crying now. I can't help but laugh. Call me an ass. Call me evil. But trust me; iguana's are harmless.
Downtown Guayaquil is home to an array of churches and museums. This fact is of no interest to me now. I read about a park full of iguana's and must see what it is all about. I stroll into the park. Iguanas...everywhere. Iguanas on the ground, iguanas in the trees, iguanas under park benches, iguanas on top of iguanas...cover your eyes kids. There must be over 100 within 50 square yards. People feed iguanas and pigeons alike; others pet them. Others still snap photos. I wait 15 minutes for a pigeon to land on an iguana. Success. The things we do with our time! What strikes me is their calm demeanor. I walk up to one and stroke its scaly skin. Distinct colors, stoic presence, beautiful eyes. Don't stand under the trees. I gots them there iguana pee on me; urine trouble! I guess number 1 is better than number 2? Despite the shower I stay in the park for a while snapping pictures...enjoy.The next morning we head for Las Penas & Cerro Santa Anna; two neighborhoods on the north end of the town's boardwalk. Every house is painted a different vibrant color. 450 steps head straight up. Along the way are restaurants and bars. At the top is a lighthouse and spectacular views of the city. Maybe there is some beauty to this city.
We eat lunch at Victor Hugo's home; a taxi driver Kelly met earlier. Walk up 4 flights of stairs to his apartment. Here we are. One room for three people; himself, his wife and child. One room and one bathroom. One fan oscillates but cannot conquer the heavy heat. Sweat is dripping; I am amazed that they live in this heat. One stove in the corner; Victor Hugo's wife cooks a feast of fish soup and ceviche. Delicious.
Pleasant conversation. Victor Hugo holds two jobs. He tells us that he is in the middle class; neither rich nor poor, and can relate to most people. We finish our meal; his wife washes dishes in the bathroom sink. Victor uses a small cabinet for a chair. Their living conditions tell me that this meal and their generosity is no small act. They put serious effort into making us feel welcome and happy. Victor Hugo is a true friend. We shake hands, exchange emails, and leave.There is certainly beauty in this city.