We did not come to Guayaquil to see the place. Ecuador’s main port, Guayaquil gets its name from the muddy, dark Guayas River that froths by the shacks and modern buildings of the city. It’s more dangerous than Quito and crowded, even if it is pleasantly warm. Not many tourists make it to Guayaquil; indeed most who come to Ecuador only see the airport in Quito and the Galápagos Islands.
Shay and I only came here to see Kenny, a kid I sponsor through Children International. Nevertheless, our time along the banks of the chocolate milk petri dish proved to be a romantic stay.In the first place, our hotel for what it lacked in a view provided a clean,private refuge from several days of night buses and shared bathrooms. We were able to relax, spread out, and do some much needed laundry in the sink. When venturing about the city we confined ourselves to the safe thoroughfares of the city’s business elite; amongst the swarm of suits and cell phones we walked by shop after shop of 3D TVs, cameras and motorcycles to the Boardwalk. Here I discovered my aforementioned prejudice against the waterway, but the clean “Malecón 2000” area had a nice park and several playgrounds, as well as a monument to the reunion of the South American liberators San Matín from Argentina (who liberated his own country, Chile and Perú) with Simón Bolívar, the famous revolutionary who really had it in for Spain.
We made our way north to a recently-renovated colonial neighborhood called “Las Peñas.”Walking up the hill of “Las Peñas” proved to repeal one of the ironic façades of tourism in developing countries. The neighborhood originally was a fortress with canons to fight off pirates and Spanyards but had since congealed to be like any other hilltop community: rundown. It was only preserved for its bullet-point past and its proximity to the commercial district – the only place tourists will stay. Looking down at houses or through to ones not up against the street, we could see that the great renovations of this historic gem were only superficial. The history barely out of sight were still embarrassingly scuzzy.But the day was warm and we walked hand in hand by freshly-painted pastels on cobblestone streets, joking and drinking orange Fanta. Enjoying our view from the top of the sun setting behind another geographically unfavorable and thus neglected hillside barrio, we tried to take sexy pictures of each other with our hair flying in the breeze. The results may not have justified our infatuation of each other to outsiders, but we sure had a good time teasing and trying until the sun was only present in our failed yet cherished attempts.