Ecuador 5

On Friday, the 30th of September, we got an early start for the city of Guayaquil which is approximately 100 miles away.  Ecuador's entire population is about 12,500,000.  4,000,000 people reside in Guayaquil, the largest town in Ecuador.  There is a lot of competition between the largest city and Quito (population of 1,800,000), which is the capital.

Bike is packed and we get a early start, prior to the traffic hitting the streets.
Time for a quick wash on our ride out of town.

We were getting filthy just carrying the panniers to the room each night.

Typical street in the better areas of Guayaquil.
Old buildings tucked between the newer structures.
One of the many main boulevards.
The Malecon, along the river, was built in 2000 and was about 1 1/2 miles long.
It was always overcast in Guayaquil, and again the colors of the building did not stand out.
Guayaquil is a very old city, but fires have burnt the city to the ground many times.  Most of the older building are from the mid to late 1800's.
This old structure was very typical of what Guayaquil looked like in the 1800's.
Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martim met in Guayaquil in 1822 to discuss the independence of South America.
Nice palms...

A famous writer, Paul Theroux, wrote in a book titled "The Old Patagonian Express" that "Visitors to Guayaquil are urged to raise their eyes, for on a clear day it is possible to see the snowy hood of Mount Chimborazo from the humid streets of this stinking city; and if you look down, all you see is rats".  Today the same is still true, but we never saw the snow capped peaks.

We boarded a 1 1/2 hour cruise on the Rio Guayas.
We took a $5.00 cruise up the river.

The poverty was astounding!

And these were not untypical riverfront neighborhoods.
Part of the reason we took the cruise was to try and find a church called "The Church of St. Thomas".  Notice the river in the background. 

The guide books and people we asked did not know of an "Thomas church.

This pictures was from a book by James Fitzpatrick called "Fireside Travels in South America", and printed in 1948.

Based on the picture above, if it still exists, it should be visible from the river, so that was the main purpose of the river cruise.

As we cruised by the older section of town, lo and behold, there it was.

It is now called "San Vicente Church", and is, in fact, the oldest church in Guayaquil.

A close up from the book...

A blow up from our river photo.

We had found the correct church.  Getting close ups of the church should now be easy... Right!...  WRONG...

Notice the neighborhood we would have to visit, to get a picture from the backside of the church.
The front of the church, today....

And this is the best picture we could obtain.....

See below...

As we passed the front of this church, which was in a REALLY bad part of town.  Behind the church was a hill side shanty.  We needed to go up the hill, and shoot the picture angle down from the hill (a Then and Now Thing). As we walked pass the church, 4 old people yelled at us, then pointed in another direction. They were pointing to a path going the other way, and up to a tourist lighthouse. We proceed, and they yelled at us. We said we would go the other way in a few minutes. We walked about 300 yards pass the church and looked up a steep (40 degree staircase), through an area so bad you would not believe it if you saw it in a movie. I went and pulled the camera out, and about 10 people shook their fingers and then flagged us to get out as quickly as possible. THEY LOOKED PANICKED! As we turned around, one of the old guys had followed us, and grabbed our arms and dragged us out of the neighborhood as he made hand signs of guns and knives. He looked like a burn victim (at least 90% of a face was burnt and he no more than 4 teeth, and could barely walk). But he followed us, with concern for our safety. After this 10 minute experience, we were shaking on how close we came to a VERY dangerous encounter. The looks on the faces of the women, between 30 and 40 years old, we will remember for ever. It was pure fear for us, and they have to live in the environment daily!

Guayaquil basically sucks. 13 million people live in Ecuador and 4 million live Guayaquil, which is a pit of hell. We have loved every corner of Ecuador with the exceptions of Esmeralda and Guayaquil

Again, as stated earlier, Ecuador is GREAT, but there are a few spots that are not attractive.

We want to be thorough and post pictures of the good and the bad.

The current score is about 95% GREAT and 5% BAD!

View of the malecon area (newer area), from the boat.
Try and get permission to drive a commercial boat in the U.S.!
The Ecuadorian staff was very friendly.
Old building from the boat.

The knoll where the old church was located.
A nicer neighborhood in Guayaquil.

We stumbled on a firefighters museum, and as my brother is a fire captain, we made a short visit.
The musuem was located in the old "Pump House" which was a major improvement to Guayaquil, helping it fight fires in a city that has had so many bad fires in the past.
It was very moving to visit a museum of fire fighters, and see at least 40 displays of newspapers from all over the world covering the tragic events of 911.....

Visited Parque Bolivar.

It should be renamed "Iguana Park".

Some of the Iguanas were at least 5 feet long.
Iguanas, just passing the time.....
Some builds are classics, others are modern and some are almost "South Beach Art Deco".
A classic....
The changes as you walk the streets is unbelievable.

A brand new art museum in the foreground.

Shanty town on the hill.

This was a door to a "Tony Roma's".

I guess customers need to be reminded to leave their guns outside......

This building, built in 1907, was built and designed by the same Eiffel that designed the big tower in Paris.

This picture is from a 1954 book by Sydney Clark entitled "All the Best in South America".
With the new Malecon of 2000, this is the best we could do....
Many poor live in Guayaquil, with a FEW isolated spot of wealth, which has to be protected by gates and police.
Neighborhoods like this are few and far between.


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