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Published: July 19th 2008
Decided to finally see Guayaquil as last year as we ever saw was the airport and bus terminal. Despite the countless warnings of Guayaquil being very dangerous there has been a massive movement in the last few years to improve both the safety and the image of Guayaquil. The areas that would be of any interest to tourists at least have been smartened up a lot and on Las Peñas there seems to be a constant police presence (more to yell at people who walk up the wrong side of the barrier than anything else!)
First stop was a park, ostensibly to see the Cathedral but in reality to see the land iguanas that call Guayaquil home. I think it has to be the only city in the world with land iguanas randomly living in the parks! Have to be very careful where you walk, firstly not to step on the iguanas and secondly to make sure your not standing under any trees. The iguanas also scale the trees in search of shade but have the rather unfortunate habit of going to the toilet on unsuspecting tourists standing below.
Next a 2km walk along the Malecon (waterfront) up towards
Las Peñas stopping at the ornamental parks and various monuments scattered along the waterfront. One being the clock tower that some local managed to persuade a couple of tourists that he owned and 'sold' it to them for several thousand dollars! Almost as good as the one who managed to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal! Another being the giant momument to the meeting between Simon Bolivar and San Martin. The most impressive thing about it being is if you whisper into one end of the curved monument, you can be heard clearly at the other. This of course needed to be tested despite some of the locals looking rather askance.
Finally got to Las Peñas only to face the climb to the top (with a stop for Pilsener half way up, naturally!) Las Peñas is the area of Guayaquil that houses practically all the bars in the city situated along a flight of 444 stone steps that lead up to a viewpoint over the city and a small chapel at the top. Apparently all of this is only a few years old and the houses are all painted to resemble a traditional village but even with the
fake village designed for tourists it's still very pretty. The only thing I'm not quite sure on is how you would manage to walk back down the steps at the end of the night! Certainly got our exercise for the day and managed to make it to the top of Las Peñas just in time for sunset. Gorgeous views over the city at sunset - despite its rather grim reputation as dirty, polluted, crime-ridden and overcrowded my opinion is that Guayaquil is actually very pretty when viewed from a distance (or when you just keep to the touristy areas.)
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