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Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Monday, August 4, 2008

We caught the 7:15 AM directo bus from Bahia to Guayaquil yesterday, arriving about five hours later. It was a comfortable bus with AC and a movie (Shoot Em Up) dubbed in Spanish but the conductor played it with English subtitles (just for us?), and it was especially nice not stopping for anyone waiting alongside the road. The bus terminal here is enormous but a few bus lines still have offices in another older area a few blocks away. We checked the schedules for Peru in both places before taking a taxi to the Hotel El Dorado. Our cab driver wasn´t familiar with that one and stopped first at the Best Western El Doral. Muy rico - too rich for our budget! The Dorado is basic without hot water, but it has cable TV and a noisy fan, and is very clean. The best part is that after mentioning Jeff and Debbie´s names (and the owner´s name too - thanks Debbie!) we got a matrimonial (one double bed) for $13/night. It's very close to the Malecon and a major shopping area which we also liked.

We dropped our bags in the room and went straight to the Malecon. Terry on Secret o´Life didn´t overstate how well worth a visit this is. Although it doesn´t look out onto anything special (a muddy river with lots of hyacinth floating in and out with the tide) the promenade itself is beautiful with many things to offer in the way of amusement. Sunday afternoon was the perfect time for people watching, with local families out to enjoy their urban park. At the eastern end of the Malecon is Las Penas where we climbed 444 steps to the top of a hill for 360 degree views of the city. Las Penas is an old neighborhood which has been turned into a tourist attraction along the lines of Lombard Street in San Francisco (only more commercial). We inadvertantly chose the quieter back way going up, and were surprised at the flow of people we met on the main set of stairs on our way down. We stopped at one of the bars mid-way so John could have a beer and we could watch a steady flow of people huffing and puffing their way up the steps. We walked all the way back to our hotel, found a Chifa (called "Asia") for an uninspiring Mixto (half chow mein, half fried rice), and called it a night.

We had already located the place to go for our yellow fever vaccines so we took care of that chore first thing this morning. We had talked about catching a $30/pp luxury bus to Tumbes at 11:30 this morning but decided it was cheaper to stay another night here and take the $6 bus at 7:30 tomorrow morning. So we spent the rest of the day doing more walking and resting on benches in between all the walking. There´s a great park, Parque Bolivar, with dozens of iguanas of all sizes which are fed and kept there. They´re free to roam the grass and cobblestone paths in the park and are even overhead in the trees. We really enjoyed hanging out there and watching them, and a bright green baby one even ran into my foot as he ran for cover up on a curb.

It was another long day of lots of walking and we were very tired by the time we headed back to our room for showers and a pizza.

Linda and John