December 23-24: from steamy Guayaquil to blissful(ly cool) Riobamba

IMG_7875

On December 23 I explored downtown Guayaquil. The city’s impressive neo-Gothic Cathedral of Saint Peter was completed in 1937.

 

IMG_7876

Its interior reminded me–a bit, at least–of St. Johannis church in my hometown.

 

IMG_7877

It seemed to have been renovated recently.

 

IMG_7880

Right across from the cathedral is Parque Seminario, better known as Parque de las Iguanas — probably the only public park in any major Latin American city where iguanas outnumber visitors by a factor of five.

 

IMG_7881

It was astounding how well the reptiles appeared to get along with the pigeons (or vice versa?).

 

IMG_7885

I continued on foot on the Malecon 2000, an urban renewal project that some may find appealing while others shudder at its pseudo-modern, globalized adornments. The historic neighborhood of Santa Ana is visible in the background.

 

IMG_7889

And yet, Guayaquil struck me as pleasantly alive — of course, as in almost every Latin American city, urban poverty and wealth coexist side by side.

 

IMG_7890

Following two hours of walking around in humid heat I fled into Lo Nuestro restaurant, known for its ceviche (raw fish). The delicious food made up for truly abysmal service — a pitiable junior waiter seemed completely out of his element; first I had to remind him twice to bring some bread, then he delivered the main dish when I had barely begun eating the starter, and in the end I had to wait for almost half an hour until the check arrived. Needless to mention, I guess, that the bill was hefty. I left half-pleased, half-amused.

 

IMG_7892

For December 24 I had made a rental car reservation to escape to more temperate climates, but when I got to the airport to pick up the car I was told that AVIS (or rather its Ecuadorian franchisee) expected a US$5,000 security deposit refundable upon returning the vehicle in good order. At first I thought the employee was joking, but when she coyly explained that I could alternatively take out local insurance (over US$300) offered by the very same franchisee instead of using the insurance coverage that comes with my credit card — and thus avoid the deposit — I got it: this was merely another creative tourist rip-off. I canceled my reservation on the spot and, following ten minutes of mental decompression, struck a deal with William, a cab driver willing to take me to Riobamba for a fixed rate. After picking up my stuff–and Harry, of course–as well as his wife Carmen (so that he wouldn’t fall asleep on his way back, as he explained), we headed toward the Central Ecuadorian highlands.

 

IMG_7893

This was the first time in my life that–without being on board of an airplane–I went from sea level to almost 3,900m altitude in under three hours.

 

IMG_7896

We broke through several layers of clouds and eventually reached the plateau south of Riobamba.

 

Ecuador 24Dec15

As the map shows, the distance–as the crow flies–between Guayaquil and Riobamba is a mere 150km, yet the contrast could not be starker: daytime temperatures in the steamy port city of Guayaquil barely drop below 30C whereas Riobamba enjoys a wonderful mild-to-cool climate.

 

IMG_7899

I felt (and still feel) so happy when I was shown my hotel room — I guess the picture above probably explains why. Note Harry’s “convertible” crate; he’d barfed right into it just before we left Guayaquil and therefore had to hang out in the crate’s upper shell while I was cleaning the lower half. Fortunately he seems to feel better already.

 

IMG_7905

I treated myself to a tasty Christmas dinner…

 

IMG_7900

… while a local band was playing Andean music.

 

IMG_7915

Afterwards I enjoyed a delicious Hoyo de Monterey Epicure Especial (deservedly rated 2014’s top-4 cigar)…

 

Quintana navidad 2015

… while chatting with my family in Buenos Aires.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “December 23-24: from steamy Guayaquil to blissful(ly cool) Riobamba

  1. I left you both at Oaxaca and didn’t show up since. Many adventures happended but I think that it is worthwhile to cross over all these frontiers with different
    experiences. For you it is fun but it is also quite some work to get along with strange, funny, bull-shitting characters. You ought to be all over very patient
    in order to survive. But you are managing it. What a contast to Alaska, which we recently travaled with a TV documentation. They showed us the big
    glaciers melting. You certainly got to know by Monika that we here are enjoying average 10 degrees day and night. Fabulous. Wishing you Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016. Gerda and Harm

    Liked by 1 person

    • Danke Euch sehr! Ich bin froh, dass die Grenzuebertritte jetzt erstmal “geparkt” werden koennen; wollen wir ‘mal sehen, wann ich mein Auto zurueckbekomme… Auch von hier aus alles Gute fuer die Feiertage! D.

      Like

  2. Wishing you a Merry Christmas! from Langley BC. We had a nice sunny day here and we all ate too much food. We have sixteen of us here and its fun family time with music and games and visiting. We are glad to see that you have made it to Ecuador and we will continue to pray for your safety and success in getting to Argentina. What an adventure you are having! Blessings, Faith and Dave Dahl

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Faith and Dave! It’s fabulous that you keep following us — every time I see that the blog was accessed from somewhere in Canada, I think of you :). All the very best ~ D.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s