Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 396-399 – Ecuador – Guayaquil

We had breakfast once again served to us but this time early as we had bus to catch that would take us out of Peru and into Ecuador. Peru had been good to us and is a far more diverse and interesting country than I knew it to be before arriving. I suppose the same could be said of a lot of places we’ve been to but I do think that there’s a lot going on in this part of the world and a lot of nice people around to show it to you.

We enjoyed our early breakfast and caught our early tuk-tuk only to find the bus office in town closed on our arrival. We sat back and waited – Fi went looking for a cambio (currency exchange) and I made friends with a hard-up skinny pooch whom we later fed. The office opened and we moved inside and got checked in. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. To be fair we’d half expected this as we knew we were catching the bus on the same route we’d hopped off here at and that was a lot later than the time we’d been told we’d depart Mancura. I busted out my guitar and regaled the check in staff with a few poor renditions of obscure songs that most people don’t know. Eventually our bus arrived and we were on in no time. The ride was easy and uneventful. We reached Guayaquil in good time and after sorting ourselves out with some USD (Ecuador uses dollars exclusively) hopped in a taxi and got dropped at our 7th floor apart-hotel in downtown Guayaquil. It was lovely – modern and thus my kind of place. It was too late to do much that night so we set off out for a wander and grabbed a salad for tea before heading back to the gaff for the night.

We were in Guayaquil for one reason and one reason only; track down and secure a cheap jaunt to the Galapagos Islands. We set out with that in mind with gusto after breakfast and made a bee-line for tour agencies we’d already mapped out. First one – closed. Second – closed. Third – guess what? Sunday’s were a bad choice for the task at hand. We gave up for the day and decided instead to explore Guayaquil. They have a 2 km redeveloped coastline called the Malecon 2000 of which they are very proud. While we can’t say we explored it we did take a quick wander – it’s just shops, gardens and monuments; all very nice, clean and safe but more for the locals. Later that day we wandered to Parc Boliviana – or Iguana Park as it is also known. This was a small fenced park the size of a city block containing a large population of land iguanas. Let it be known that I love Iguanas. I wasn’t aware of this before meeting so many of them here in the park but I can now say with certainty that they are uber cool. I mean, there’s no denying it – these chaps are dinosaurs. They rock and I spent ages photographing a variety of different sized beasts up in trees and out for a walk amongst the patrons without a care in the world and certainly no fear of humans. Eventually Fi managed to drag me away and after a brief look around a grand church we were off back to our digs. That night we dined in, whipping up a cracking barbeque chicken salad before calling it a night.

We needed to move rooms the next morning which turned out to be on a separate floor so we got that out of the way and set out to visit the range of tour companies in Guayaquil. To cut a long, long story short we got nothing after a long day’s hard work negotiating and looking at options. I was disappointed in the range of options available in Guayaquil; I was under the impression that this was a hub for booking Galapagos tours but by the end of the day it seemed more like a single major company basically ran the show with their 6 or so boats being the only ones touted regardless of the tour company we visited. The prices we were offered were far too high and more importantly the itineraries were disappointingly uninspired with most tours offering a similar boring route round a few central islands. We were tired and gutted by the end of the day. Fi attempted to acquire a cheap flight out to the islands online and late in the evening thought she’d cracked it only to receive an email thanking her for the transaction and that they’d now see if the flight was available at that price. Foreign tricky websites!

After going round the houses with the tricky website we eventually got the order cancelled thanks to help from Andrea the hostel owner. We unfortunately had to move out but Andrea had pointed us to a nearby spot at the same price so it wasn’t too big a deal. We ventured out to the airline offices after shifting hostels and after a lot of umming and ahhing booked a slightly more expensive flight for the next day just so that we could maximise our time on the islands rather than waiting around wasting time in Guayaquil or Quito. Thankful that we’d finally got a route out there secured we relaxed a bit and returned to see the Iguanas again before having an easy tea and getting ourselves to bed.