The English language probably does not have enough words to describe the way this day went. Honestly? If I could have scripted it myself — aside from some constant nattering between the girls — it would not have gone any better.
We awoke bright and early to sunshine and temps of 35 degrees, to have a meeting with Joaquin about our day. Before this, I realized I would need to sort through some monetary challenges first. Our hotel in Guayaquil was lovely… but we did not need to be spending $99 US per night. The standard North American luxuries were not a big deal for us and we knew we would quickly run out of cash on this leg of the trip if we prioritized “nice” accommodation. Joaquin did some fancy footwork and yada yada yada we moved all of our circus gear to another hotel, this one, just $35 and still downtown. Let me show you how the shower looked:
Incidentally and in case you were wondering, the currency used in Ecuador is the US dollar. And while Joaquin and I sorted out the details of our overall daily budget, the girls and Alvi took the opportunity to head across the street to visit the unique characters we had glimpsed last night.
But I digress. Joaquin had this stellar day all planned for us… he told the girls we were going to head to a museum. I could see the look of panic and fear start to rise in Saffy’s face. It was priceless. NOT A MUSEUM, MOM!!!! Little did any of us realize what he meant was an ecological/animal/vegetation reserve that was unlike anything I could have imagined. My kids were in heaven!!! Sloths, parrots, snakes, monkeys, giant spiders (like the size of a bread plate), lemurs, birds of all species and plants I know I paid a fortune for at our wedding reception — all native to this area of the country. The shrieks of delight were worth the 2 days of travel alone. I myself wanted to crawl in and adopt the sloth who seemed to beckon me with his slow smile. And this entire 3 hours of quality entertainment was free. Today’s budget is looking sa-weet!!!! Oh one more thing… when I can figure out how to post video, we will showcase a clip of an Ecuadorian goat who is my “burping doppleganger”. No joke. I found a creature that burps just like me. Who knew????
Following this enriching adventure, we worked our way back to town to visit Las Peñas, an area I had read about online and couldn’t wait to see! It involves climbing up 444 steps — each of them individually numbered — that pass through a colourful exhibit of tiendas (shops) and homes leading up to an awe-inspiring vista of the city. Originally, it had been the cornerstone of Guayaquil, acting as a kind of “fort” some 450 years ago. Saffy was dreading doing this… as most of you know, she’s a gamer who generally begs for piggy-back rides. Somehow she and Piper found themselves in a major scrap and out of spite she virtually sprinted the entire way up, in the 37 degree heat, bragging about what “slow pokes” we all were.
When I told Saffy she had walked 8 km today — what turned out to be nearly 10 — she was floored! We knew sleep would come quickly, but had to eat. We met up with Joaquin and his beautiful wife Diana for a trip to another pier that, apparently, is THE place to bring your date if you reside in Guayaquil. Everywhere we looked the park benches were occupied with couples kissing… Piper was grossed out; I thought it was so romantic and lovely and tried to steal a smooch from my man but was flatly denied lol.
When we arrived, there was an incredible water installation display, dancing and lighting up to the sounds of Carmina Burana. I died!!!! Completely mesmerized, I was blown away by the sheer spectacle of it and all of us wished we had brought cameras. This went on for some time and eventually we made our way to the Ceviche place were the girls leaped out of their comfort zone and inhaled the deep-fried body of an entire fish (even the head and tail were left on the fish). Our day culminated in a sweet little stray cat hanging around for fish scraps with both girls falling simultaneously in love. I will let Saffy tell this story because ultimately, the cat turned out to have a litter of kittens underneath a bridge and what this girl proposed we do will melt any heart out there.