Yesterday we landed in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with just under 24 hours to spend here overnight. The first thing we did was check into Hotel Oro Verde - a SUPERB hotel by all accounts and one I would highly recommend. Impeccable service , 5 star treatment, and facilities that though a little dated, were still greatly luxurious and amazingly unkept.
We landed late afternoon. After a lovely welcome drink (or 3!) in the hotel bar, we decided to take a rush hour walk amongst the locals - 15 blocks of the bustling city later and after strolling through several public squares and fountains, we found ourselves at the Malecon.
The Malecon is a riverfront area, like a several kilometer long boardwalk filled with tree lined park benches, playgrounds, cafes, and more. Locals were out in full force, and it was simply wonderful to stroll along, watching young and old couples shoot the breeze holding hands and kidding, hear the happy shriek of kids playing bumper cars and on swings, and enjoy the balmy breeze.
Then, we continued into Barrio Las Penas - the famous 400plus step uphill to a lighthouse, in the old part of town. Picture gorgeously colorful colonial style houses, intricate grilled windows, cobble stone lane ways, flanked with art galleries, bars and bachata music wafting down the hill.
After 3 hours of walking around, we headed back to our hotel where we enjoyed a wonderful fondue dinner - I have no idea why we went for a traditional Swiss meal in South America, but it was what we felt like!
This morning I couldn't quite get one of the paintings we had seen the night before in Las Penas out of my head, so I looked the artist up online. It turns out, he was one of Ecuador's foremost artists, and had quite the 25 year career. His name is Hermel Quezada, and so after breakfast we paid him another visit.
After a delightful hour in his tiny lane way gallery, we negotiated on a price for one of my favorite pieces in his shop - a large canvas filled with whimsical creatures from the Andean forest that he'd painted almost 25 years ago early in his career. Rather adorably, Hermel explained to me that his paintings were all his children, and to please take good care of it!
S and I have always liked collecting art on our journeys, and this was a rather special one - one of the nicest paintings I've ever seen, with a beautiful sentiment and by a great artist. Also, it's now officially the first piece of art we have acquired as a married couple, making it our wedding present to each other.
We are now at the Guayaquil airport, about to embark on another little mini adventure - 18 hours in Quito. Who knows what may happen there?
Ps, I have no photos of our 24 hour adventure in Guayaquil sadly, as we did a lot of our walking at night after dark, and we didn't want to carry anything of value with us. Plus, it was quite nice to just enjoy each other's company and soak in the culture.