Wandering in America del Sur

Ecuador-Travelogue  |  Travel time: July 2005 - March 2006  |  by Allison Webb

Voyage of the Daphne

National Park Entrance Fee $100
Flight ticket - Guayaquil - Baltra - Quito - $367
Boat trip for 8 days, 7 nights on a first class boat - $1173
Sunscreen and aloe vera - $9
snorkelling rental - $20
beer on the boat - $2.50

Seeing more wildlife up close and personal than anywhere else in the world - PRICELESS!

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Leaving Argentina we headed over to Chile through the steep pass with curves to make the mind spin until we arrived back in Vina del Mar where we had a wonderful dinner with Igor and Georgina. Back in Vina the purpose was for Kurt to see Valparaiso which we did and to leave all our heavy camping gear behind. After repacking with a lighter load, headed to Santiago for a day before flying out to Ecuador.

The city was hot, hot, hot and it would prove to be good training ground for Ecuador. There kids played in the public fountains despite the signs saying no bathing and men took turns cooling off, using the hoses of the park gardeners. We sought refuge at Pablo Neruda{s house and then took the funicular railway up Cerro San Cristobal to see the views of the city and the mighty Andes and feel the cool breeze blow. After wandering over to Cerro Santa Lucia and having dinner at the bustling Plaza des Armas, we tried to go to sleep because 5am would come early for our flight north!

As we flew into Guayaquil, Ecuador, we only have one purpose in mind - to get to the Galapagos. It was the one real splurge on our trip and we had been looking forward to it for months and as our plane touched down on the tarmac we began to feel the excitement of being so close - finally. But our first hurdle was to survive Guayaquil and get ourselves a great boat to tour the islands.

Now we had heard every horror story in the book about Guayaquil. It practically had our heads filled with visions of men with knives on every corner, but fortunately for us in the airport in Lima, we happened upon an Aussie couple, Kelly and Rob that we had met in southern Chile and we all hooked up to face the city. Together we were formidable we figured!

But all the warnings turned out to be false. While the city was a bit edgy at night, the reports were highly exaggerated. No more care was really necessary than in any other big city and common sense went a long way. Our first day out we were met by a whole lot of smiles and some locals coming up to welcome us to their city. With a lot of Caribbean influence, the people were completely different from down south and it was highly evident in their approach, mannerisms and later we would find out in their music and dance.

With 1.5 million people, Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador, just beating out Quito, the capital, for the honour. As a busy port town, it has had its share of problems and poverty goes deep, but the city has been investing huge amounts of money into changing its image, securing its streets and is beginning to turn things around.

Its most ambitious project known as the Malecon, is a boardwalk along the river 2.5km long. It is a multiuse area with restaurants, art galleries, park for kids, gardens, viewpoints, monuments to historical figures is just an incredible space to lollygag the day away. It put the Vancouver seawall to shame! We spent hours wandering along with the locals as there were no other tourists in sight and watched life go on. Along side there were gorgeous restored colonial buildings and parks galore!

At the one end of the boardwalk a riotous colour of houses spills forth from the hill and a walk of 444 steps to the top where a lighthouse forms a beacon is a challenge and also a pleasure. With before and after pictures on all the restored hours, the residents are all standing out on their decks with broad smiles and waving or calling hello to you as you sweat and huff your way up the steps. Made even worse by a bad cold, right Kelly!

After watching the sunset and getting a little of the breeze blowing through our hair - given the fact that it was over 35C with high, high humidity - we rolled into this little local watering hole for a drink where the men were more than overly thrilled with Kelly and I and sang and danced for us in a typical Caribbean style complete with makeshift drums and mariachis. All while we sat on a little perch overlooking the river quaffing a beer. Life was good!

But we had earned the rest because when we rocked up to town we found out that being Sat, none of the travel agents were open and would not be until Monday. Ugh! And we needed to get to the Galapagos as soon as possible. Fortunately or unfortunately - we were not yet sure - we found an office where one of the workers was fast asleep in a chair. We took the chance of waking him and were soon being given the salesman spiel - now do I have a deal for you! We had heard all kinds of tales of amazing last minute specials, especially at this time of year, but it turned out that low season is beginning to disappear as the Islands are becoming so popular and the weather is always relatively good, people come all year around.

Regardless, we came away with a couple of choices, but nothing to compare it with and were a little hesitant. After some more research on the internet, decided to take the plunge and spend much more than we had originally budgeted for a really good boat, the Daphne, because it is a once in a lifetime experience. Hoped that our gamble would pay off!

Getting money out proved to be quite a problem. With all of us in tow, we roamed the streets in search of a bank machine that would work and then one that would spit out money in order to avoid the high service changes of using our credit cards. After many attempts, no can do! The next backup plan was the VISA cash advance. And on Monday am we threw out card down with our passports and took out $1200 which they could only produce in small bills of 10s, and 20s so we were forced to wander the street back to the travel agency with a wad of cash. Let{s just say that we moved quickly to get back there and pulled the door quickly shut after arriving with cash in hand!

Paid up and all our arrangements done, we celebrated with eager anticipation over a Mexican dinner in the swanky part of the city, packed our bags and got ready for the trip of a lifetime on the mighty Daphne!

The slow border crossing at Los Libertadores between Chile and Argentina - we waited 2 hours! Ugh!

The slow border crossing at Los Libertadores between Chile and Argentina - we waited 2 hours! Ugh!

Curves, curves and more curves and this is the famous road to the main ski hill which in winter is completely scary

Curves, curves and more curves and this is the famous road to the main ski hill which in winter is completely scary

Cooling off in Santiago!

Cooling off in Santiago!

Fountain jumping in Santiago to beat the 35C + heat

Fountain jumping in Santiago to beat the 35C + heat

In the famous Iguana Park in Guayaquil with the locals

In the famous Iguana Park in Guayaquil with the locals

And when in Guayaquil, do as the Guayaquilanos. They made me pat it! No longer wild animals they are fed all day by locals and completely tame!

And when in Guayaquil, do as the Guayaquilanos. They made me pat it! No longer wild animals they are fed all day by locals and completely tame!

The historic monument on the Malecon, Guayaquil

The historic monument on the Malecon, Guayaquil

Kelly, Rob and Kurt on the Malecon looking onto the colourful Las Penas

Kelly, Rob and Kurt on the Malecon looking onto the colourful Las Penas

Sunset over Guayaquil

Sunset over Guayaquil

Laying out a lot of cash for the Galapagos trip - more money than I have ever paid for anything while travelling!

Laying out a lot of cash for the Galapagos trip - more money than I have ever paid for anything while travelling!

Nothing like satisfying a craving! Ah, something different, Mexican food!

Nothing like satisfying a craving! Ah, something different, Mexican food!

Guard in dress uniform in front of a military building, Guayaquil

Guard in dress uniform in front of a military building, Guayaquil

Kids playing on the Malecon

Kids playing on the Malecon

© Allison Webb, 2005
You are here : Overview The Americas Ecuador Ecuador-Travelogue
The trip
 
Description:
My trip through Peru before heading to Chile to work for 6 months and then travels afterward in South America
Details:
Start of journey: Jul 05, 2005
Duration: 8 months
End of journey: Mar 02, 2006
Travelled countries: Peru
Chile
Argentina
Uruguay
Ecuador
The Author
 
Allison Webb is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 15 years.