Greetings from Ecudor! Spent 4 days in Guayaquil roaming the city, desperately trying to learn and speak Spanish as much as possible. Matt and Rhys were doing very well communicating, and are improving every day. They are both determined to be fluent in the time we are here, as am I, but have a much longer way to go. It's all too easy to let them do the talking, while I stand behind smilling, and nodding and pointing...
Guayaquil is not the most beautiful city I've seen, but it has it's points of interest. Lots of small family run food stalls, selling local and other cuisines, all for less than $2 USD per person. There are obviously other more expensive restaurants, but we found the smaller ones to be quite plentiful and pretty tasty! We spent most of one day looking for a travel agent to find out about trip to the Galapgos islands, and found one eventually. We plan to take a trip there at some point maybe in January, if we can find a cheap enough way of doing it.
After that we went to find the infamous Iguana Park we had heard about that was in the middle of the city. It was as the name suggests, a park smack bang in the middle of the city, full of Iguanas freely wandering around amongst the happy tourists. At first you didn't see any, but then you spot one and then they all seem to appear everywhere you look, sun bathing in the sun on benches, in the grass, in trees, on the pavement... everywhere! They were completely unphased by people stroking and poking them, and occasionally accidentaly stepping on their tails! They weren't caged in and surrounded all around by fast flowing traffic, but none seemed to want to leave their cosy city haven.
Right next to the park was a beautiful modernish Cathedral, beautiful architechture and stunning stained glass windows. Contrastingly, inside the beautiful building was a garish navity scene adorned with thousand of blinding colourful flashing christmas lights... quite offensive to the eye.
On Sunday, we took the 8 hour bus journey to Banos, a beautiful town set in the mountains, about 40 km from the Amazon jungle. Our friend Michael advised us not to take the night bus, but to experience the journey by day to see the changing scenery for all it's glory. And it was worth it. The bus journey was incredible.... the photos don't do it justice at all, but you may an idea of what it was like.
Arriving in Banos was like a breath of fresh air... literally. Surrounding by mountains, and next door to a live snow capped volcano named Tungurahua. Since we've arrived, we've been waiting for a clear night to go and see the summit.