Grant McWilliams

Guayaquill/Quito day 1

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Since we only had the morning in Guayaquil I wanted to get outside and walk to the waterfront so we skipped breakfast in the restaurant and headed for the street. Guayaquil looks a lot like Mexico City but without the beautiful buildings. Mostly modern (less than 50 year buildings) and not that clean either. We made it to the Malecon 2000 waterfront promenade that the locals are so proud of and it was nice but it reminded me a bit too much of Nice France for me to like it a lot. We ate lunch there which was a bunch of meats grilled with fries. It wasn't too bad and the price for 4 people with two waters was under $7.

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On the way back to the hotel we ran across an outdoor market which we just had to wade through because the experience of a Latin American market is one not to be missed. Mo got her first taste of the way these things work. She also got her first taste of heat in December as it was over 90 degrees. Back at the hotel I ask attempt to ask for a taxi and write down 1:00 on my scratch pad and she says si and motions to the front door. What arrives in 10 minutes was actually a regular car driven by a man that was probably the cousin of the receptionist! Anyway he got us back to the airport for another $5. I didn't know what to expect of the local Ecuadorian Airline TAME because I'd heard stories that made it sound like a bus company, first come first serve type of organization. We got there two hours before the plane was scheduled to leave which was what the guide books recommended of us. The lady at the counter spoke English and said she could just put us on the next flight which would be leaving at 2. But since I only had a reservation and had not paid for tickets I'd have to go to the next counter and purchase tickets. As luck would have it we got in the slow line and didn't get our tickets in time for hte 2 o'clock flight. We did however, happen upon a deal and got our tickets for $45 each instead of the $60 that the website listed.

While waiting for the plane we picked up some water, got on the internet and picked up some Chilean Empanadas. We were very excited to see the empanadas and they weren't bad but didn't measure up to Julia's in Adams-Morgan district of D.C. Security was a breeze. Apparently there is a shortage of ignorant fear in Ecuador that is so common in the States. Maybe we should pass it around a bit so we could get to the point of being able to carry more than 3 ozs of toothpaste with us on the plane. Heaven forbid we be able to brush our teach while on vacation. It's for our safety you know. Anyway the Ecuadorian security process isn't like this at all. The entire time we were in the airport there wasn't any lines and that includes the security check. We put our stuff in the bins and walk through the scanner and off we go to our gate which at this point was still unknown to us. Our boarding pass lists our gate as Puerto 0 and I ask a uniformed man and he just laughs and babbles in Spanish as if he thought I were born in Madrid. Since there was no Gate 0 I fell back to plan B. If you can't understand the language do what the locals do. I wandered through the crowd looking at other peoples tickets and found one that was the same as mine. The man spoke some English and said that they would announce the gate. Little did he know I was no longer interested in their announcements because I found someone to follow and follow we did. When they moved, we moved. As we were walking down the aisle to board the plane we heard the plane and gate announced in English. Now we know for next time.

The plane at best was 1/3 the way full which was great as we had nobody sitting next to us. It was an Airbus A320 which had more legroom than any plane I'd ever taken. It even still had that new airplane smell. Either it had just been made or the captain had picked up a “That new airplane smell” deodorizer from 7-11 on the way to work and had it hanging from the rear view mirror.

 

The in flight snacks were great too, little homemade sandwich things made from flat bread. No commercially packaged pretzels for TAME. We reached cruising altitude for about 10 minutes then started to descend again showing how small this country is. The Quito airport is even smaller than the one in Guayaquil and the signs even less clear. We followed the crowd again which appears to be a good practice to get into. At the exit there was a taxi booth which made me happy because I wouldn't have to deal with the corrupt taxi problem. We paid our $5 and loaded are gear in the taxi.

 

Once again I didn't have reservations but I figured if we go to where the hostel was that I had contacted (Hostel Posada del Maple) and they didn't have room we'd just wander around that area and find another since they have a tendency to group together. The Spanish only speaking receptionist said we didn't have a reservation nor did they have a room but gave me a card to another one she recommended. On the way out the door a lady that had just gotten off work volunteered to walk us to the other one which was probably a good thing because we would have given up after walking by the third hostel on the way. The hostel we ended up staying at was not in any guidebooks but turned out to be quite nice anyway. The beef heart tasted the same as a livestock auction smells. If you haven't experienced this just imagine what it smells like to be really really close to a cow. If you want this experience you'll need one cow, preferably not one with a bad attitude toward your interest in their body order. Get really close to the cow. Although they don't necessarily need to be pointing in any certain direction it's best if they're pointing away from you. Say they're facing south and so are you but you're behind them. Now place your nostrils as close as you can but be sure to watch out for the swishing tail. It would be advisable for this experiment for you to do this in a fly free environment as their tails can whack you pretty hard if you're standing between them and the fly they're after Now that you're in position take a big whiff and hold it in for a second. Now just imagine that you have something in your mouth that tastes just the same as the scent you've just inhaled. Now you know what beef heart tastes like. Enjoy. Tripe was better but I can't get the idea out of my mind that the teenager working his first job at the butcher might not be as vigilant at removing the stuff from the intestines as I would if I were preparing it for myself. I'll just leave it at that. The liver wasn't bad, the pork chop was excellent, the shrimp ok, the calamari good and the sirloin was pretty good. So now we've had Argentinean food. Not bad but I've come to conclusions that the vegetarians living in Argentina are probably quite slim if they exist at all. After dinner we

just took a very slow stroll around the neighborhood and ogled at the odd restaurants and cafes. There are falafel bars, Indian food and all the other ethnic places that you might see in Budapest or New York. I like it. Internet cafes are plentiful too and it feels like a touristy area although I've only seen 6 white people since being here. Maybe the tourists are all from South/Central America. The paint was bright and cheerful and reminded me of being inside a creme sickle. If you've never actually been inside a cream sickle you'll just have to use your imagination. Breakfast is include

d and possibly laundry but we'll find out tomorrow. The room had a bunk bed so Jade immediately grabbed that. It's amazing what makes kids happy as the bunked has turned Jades opinio

n of Quito and he now likes this city. I wish I could decide if I liked or disliked something based on such small attributes. I could see myself on this elevated plane of psychological existence saying “I loved my plane flight because the tires were big”. Maybe it's just because he's an INFP so his likes and dislikes are more subjective. We found out soon enough that the area we were in was a good one by the number of eating establishments in the area. People who like to eat are my kind of people. We wandered out and found Lebanese food, Chinese food, Japanese food, Texas barbecue, Argentinean, Mexican and just about every other kind. We decided on having Argentinean steaks for dinner and bought a grill platter as well as a sirloin and some calamari and shrimp. On the grill platter was beef heart, tripe, liver, chicken, pork chop and sausage. So basically all the parts of an animal that you wouldn't normally eat or pay for

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