Posted by: tim ellis | January 1, 2009

Ecuador – Wednesday 16th July 2008

We are up before the sun and manage to be the first zodiacs into the mangroves, so get to see the trees thick with egrets explode into life as they wake up and take flight. There are also a handful of pelicans around, swooping over the water, then diving with a huge splash. We sail up to a shallow inlet where we wait and watch as a number of turtles, sharks, and rays make their way back to the open ocean as the tide falls, before following them out into the bay where a large flock of boobies are putting n a wonderful display of synchronised diving as they fish for their breakfast – which reminds us that it is time for ours – so we return to the boat to feed, and to fetch up our bags, (and retrieve our shoes) ready for the trip back to the airport.

The airport is a bit chaotic, with several boats-worth of passengers all arriving together, but Franklin ensures we all get checked in alright, and also arranges us Galapagos Park stamps for our passports – they look much more decorative than the official Ecuador ones!

The flight is mostly smooth and incident free, and as on the way out, about half the plane seems to disembark at Guayaquil – this time, however, I am among them. I am met by Jorge, from Metropolitan Travel who takes me to the Hampton Inn, giving me enough ideas of places to visit for a week!

The hotel room is still being cleaned when I arrive, so I have to wait in the bar, but this is no great hardship as they also give me a voucher for a complimentary drink, and it gives me the chance to get my diary up to date again. Mind you the promised 25 minutes is a bit of an under-estimation… When I eventually get to my room it is on the 11th floor, right next to the lifts, despite being so high up there is no real view due to the other tall buildings.

There is a big statue commemorating the meeting of Simon Bolivar and Jose San Martin at the end of the street, down by the river, and a riverbank walk – Malecon 2000 – which I follow up to some craft units, then back through the shopping arcade below. The other nearby attraction is the Iguana park, and as I’ve not seen enough iguana recently I head there. These are “Tree” Iguana – the green ones that are most familiar from zoos. The best time to see them, I’m told, islate afternoon as they spend the mornings up in the trees warming up. The park is only small and there are a number of iguana in the trees and on the ground, while I am watching when I suddenly notice someone wave. It is Christopher and Christiane from the Cachalote who are also staying in Guayaquil tonight before flying home tomorrow.

Another interesting meal tonight at a grill house just around the corner from the hotel. I order chicken soup and “baby beef”. The beef comes first, and if it’s a baby I dread to think what the parents are like! Needless to say, the soup turns up when I am about half way through the beef. For pudding, I order fresh fruit without cream. The waiter fetches a glass dish and a plate which he puts on the counter and looks at the group of chefs on the other side. They ignore him. Eventually he wanders round to their side of the counter and picks up the dish and disappears round the back, emerging with the bowl full of strawberries, which the chefs then take and, between them fill a piping bag with cream. (I know I ordered ‘natural’ rather than ‘con cream’ . I think it is like the Monty Python ‘Spam’ sketch – it’s only a little bit of cream…)

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