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Published: October 26th 2013
Our stay in Guayaquil certainly had less than a perfect start. We had booked our accomodation via AirBnB as usual, and everything seemed smooth up to the point when our host came to open the door seeming confused at our arrival. Lacking a common language (despite our preceding Spanish studies), we weren't at first sure what the issue was, but pretty soon it turned out that our booking on AirBnB was for one week later. The night before I had sent the hosts a message saying we will arrive at 1pm, and they answered they would be waiting for us then, and I even got a booking reminder message from AirBnB that night, so I certainly didn't suspect we were about to arrive one week too early. Quite embarrasing. But, no problem, their room happened to be free, and the couple, Patricia and Homero, turned out to be the best AirBnB hosts ever. They became pretty much the highlight of our stay in Guayaquil, being extemely friendly and eager to communicate with us despite at times quite severe language barrier. Then again, it's surprising how we managed to discuss topics such as Ecuadorian economy with such a limited vocabulary, often accompanied
by gestures and words of English (and sometimes other languages) thrown in. It helped too that a British girl fluent in Spanish was living with them long-term, and she helped to translate at times.
Patricia and Homero's apartment was, like most houses in the area, behind a high wired fence and a locked metal door. The windows were also barred. It would have been unsafe to step outside the fence after dark, especially for us as clearly foreigners. I can't imagine it would be very nice to live in a city where you have to sit at home behind wired fence every evening after dark for safety reasons. Of course you can always take taxis, but then again, it might not be safe either. The area seemed tiring also in bright daylight, actually the whole city outside the immediate center, or what we saw of it, seemed to consist just of busy streets with too many cars and heavy air, without any green spots, or nowhere where you could go and hang out. We sat a few times in a street café right next to our apartment in the afternoon, but that too was quite far from relaxing due
to the traffic and semi-creepy atmosphere.
We went to Guayaquil because it was basically a mandatory stop on our way from the coast to the mountains, and since our guidebook made the city sound interesting enough and much polished over the recent years, we figured we might as well take a look at it for few days. And certainly the city had its nice spots too. I suppose the top highlight for us was the small park inhabiting dozens of urban iguanas, who just roam the park freely. Also the Las Peñas hill with its cute colorful houses, cafes and restaurants was nice to walk around. The main hangout of the city center is Malecon, meaning the riverside walking area, which contains all kinds of attractions from museums to botanical garden. The area is closed by fence, and it has lots of guards around, so it felt safe to walk around, and actually same was true for the whole city center and Las Peñas. We spent two days just walking around these places, visited one museum, which told the history of the city in fourteen "dioramas", but mostly focused on enjoying the sun and heat we had finally found.
And of course made sure we were back behind the wired fence by 5pm. Then we sat inside the rest of the evenings reading, surfing the net and enjoying our hosts' hospitality in the forms of company, dinner and yummy Ecuadorian fruits, especially fresh mangos and pineapple.
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