First off, I have to vent. To the men of South America and especially of Peru and Ecuador. I am sick and tired of the attention. I am over the catcalls, whistling, honking, winking, blowing of kisses, comments (Spanish or English). I do not find it flattering. I find it annoying. I find it rude. And just a little perplexing cause half the time I'm sweaty and look like a steaming pile of s***. I understand that white over here is 'exotic'. But I am bored of it all, so please, give it a rest.
Guayaquil is eerily Western like so many places I've been. It worries me. I feel like South America is losing its identity in the quest to catch up the the first world and that is a tragedy.
It is also Ecuador's most dangerous city, which I didn't know until after I arrived. Even at the hostel they had tips for staying safe and out of trouble posted on the wall at reception. But I found it to be really quite fine. Admittedly the hostel is in a well to do area. But when I was in the city, walking around and lost, (more on that below) I never felt unsafe.
On my first day here I arrived after another overnight bus ride. I'll tell you what's not fun...being woken up at 2am to cross the Peru/Ecuador border, waiting in line to do so for just under an hour and the only entertainment being "The Shaggy Dog" in Spanish. And Ecuador, work on your passport stamp please. It is the most boring thing I've ever seen.
I arrived in Guayaquil early and thankfully was able to check straight into my hostel. Mind you this was after a taxi driver said he knew where my hostel was, took me into the city, took my money and drove off. It turns out he was full of s*** and I was not at my hostel. So I got to pay for another taxi ride out of the city and this taxi driver couldn't seem to fathom that as we drove down the street the hostel is on, that we were in fact going the wrong way and he had driven too far. I did try to tell him but he would not listen. Only upon asking for directions (oh the irony) did he realise. I don't really understand how this occurred. I asked to go to number 308 and as we turned down the street, we were at 580 something and the numbers were only increasing into the 600s. Obviously the wrong way buddy. Yet he drove for a good for blocks before realising perhaps something was not right. Anyhow I did eventually arrive at the hostel.
My first day was spent wandering the city centre. Having time on my hands and feeling like being a touch active, I thought to walk into the city. This worked until I reached a road that could only be crossed by vehicle and not as a pedestrian. Hello taxi.
My first stop was the main plaza which I was pleasantly (and touch creeped out too) surprised to find filled with iguanas. I kid you not. They were everywhere. On the grass, in the trees, walking along the paths with us common people. It was cool but after a short while I was too creeped out and had to leave.
Then it was on to the Malecon 2000 a shopping centre, park and more by the river. It's really nice and I enjoyed walking along it stopping to look at different things. I went to a little artesan market and after the colourful glory of Bolivian and Peruvian trinkets, the Ecuadorean ones paled in comparison and seemed awfully expensive by SA standards. I stopped for a while in another plaza to read a little (the book I'm reading is thrilling) and enjoy the view. Then it was time for food. After trying my hardest to eat local foods and support local restaurants, I was craving something decidedly Western. So a burger was in order and it was delicious. While I ate it started to rain and not expecting this, my rain coat was all the way back at the hostel. b*****. I walked through the shopping centre until it ended and then faced the rain. Given the sweaty temperature, the cool rain was quite nice apart from making my clothes damp. I walked right to the end of the Malecon and though the most charming little street of art galleries to a bridge. There I found a place to sit looking at the river and read some more until the rain dissipated. It was quite lovely really.
After the rain stopped I decided to head back to the hostel and again wanted to try walking back. I was a lot more successful this time. Guayaquil has many streets that suddenly stop pedestrian access when leaving the city for the suburbs. So you find yourself doubling back and waking further up until you find a crossing point. I got to said point and obviously made a wrong turn. Walking down the street I couldn't seem to remember a lot of what I was seeing and this should have been an indicator to me, that I was in the wrong place. I've discovered on this trip that in pretty observant and quite good at retracing my steps. When I got to a shopping mall, it became clear to me I was not where I thought I was. Using the map given to me by the hostel, I worked out where I was and worked out where I needed to turn to get to the Main Street near my hostel. Only I f***ed this up too. Obviously I was walking in the opposite direction than I thought. Dani and State, you will be loving this story. Classic Zoz a la Perth. Anyhow, Guayaquil has a real lack of street signs so it took me ages to come across one and work I was was not on the right street and that I did not know how to find my way back. The street I was walking on was devoid of people to ask for directions and also mostly devoid of cars. But at that moment I spotted a free taxi and s*** I was glad. Cue taxi driver taking me back to where I know. After said ordeal, I wanted a treat and so I got some ice cream before walking back to the hostel.
Sometimes SA really s***s me. Like when I haul ass to the bus station and they won't sell me a ticket and tell me to just buy one on the day. Yeah seems like a good idea to check out of my hostel and go to the bus station with all my s*** not even knowing if I can get a ticket or not.
I really would have liked to go to Montañita. However being Carnavale weekend, getting a bus will be near impossible and turning up without accommodation doesn't seem like the best idea. And I did just come from a small beachy town.
Yesterday I felt a bit travel fatigued. You can't be on the go all the time. So I took a day off. After my failed trip to the bus station, I went to an upscale shopping mall near my hostel. I had decided to see a movie. I bought my ticket and went into the cinema only to find myself watching some Johnny Depp movie (the director or something) that I did not want to be watching. Even in my broken Spanish I was able to explain this and get a ticket to the correct movie - Silver Linings Playbook. Yet it still couldn't go right. The movie started but with no subtitles. Fine for me as an English speaker but not ideal for all the Spanish speakers in the cinema, ie everyone that was not me. So after the first ten minutes of the film, it stopped, we waited for five minutes and it restarted with subtitles. I liked the subtitles. Good for me to see more Spanish and interesting to see some of the translations. Jennifer Lawrence is a pretty incredible actress. Excellent movie, highly recommend it.
After the movie I wandered around the shopping mall with no particular purpose. I spotted a really cute jumper that I really wanted to buy (remember I just lost one Mum). But it was $45 and my rule of purchasing is 'would you pay that much back at home?' This particular jumper was not worth paying $45 for, nor was it special and/or different enough to warrant the price, so I walked away. See, sometimes I am sensible!
I got bored of wandering and thought it time to head back to the hostel. I had passed this shopping mall on my ill fated walk back from the city the day before and I was determined to walk back without getting lost. And I did. Nailed it!
I'm not homesick in general but of course there are some things I miss about home. Right at that moment I was missing cooking. So I headed to the supermarket and bought ingredients for pasta that I could cook in the hostel kitchen. It was really nice to do domestic things like buy vegetables, chop them up and make a dinner, albeit a very simple one. After dinner a lovely American girl I met shared her bread and Nutella with me for dessert. YUM!
And now I am on the bus to Quito. It's freaking sweaty (no AC), I've finished my book and I've had enough of sleeping.
Things I miss about home...
1 Knowing exactly how my shower works and getting it to the ideal temperature.
2 My hair dryer - having to dry au natural is a large part of why I'm not washing my hair (only 3 washes in just over 6 weeks).
3 Already mentioned, but cooking. I really miss it. Eating out gets boring quickly when you're doing it 2 out of 3 meals a day.
4 Breakfast that is not bread and jam. Now I could easily just buy breakfast but I don't want to waste valuable funds when there is a perfectly edible breakfast available from the hostel. However I am very much looking forward to nice breads (not so sweet, sourdough, multi grain, rye!) when I get home, and I doubt jam will pass my lips for a long time.