Last week was the Ecuadorian Holiday All Soul’s day, where people celebrate the memories of their relatives that have passed away. There are festivals and parades to go along with the holiday, but two things that stood out were a special drink and desert associated with the time of the year. I started seeing several signs around for Colada Morada, a purple beverage usually served hot. It is a mix of fruits including naranjilla, babaco, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries along with other herbs. It’s got a nice smooth feel to it, and goes well with the Guaguas de Pan. Through some local dialect, Guagua de pan translates into ‘child of bread,’ and it is a piece of bread made to look like a small child. They are often filled with chocolate, jam or other sweets. Traditionally, people leave a glass of Colada Morada and a Guagua de Pan on their relatives’ graves so they have something to enjoy on this day.
I’m definitely a big fan of the holiday, especially because I got two days off work. So I decided to make a trip to Guayaquil () and then head out to the beaches. I took an early flight to Guayaquil, and landed there Thursday morning. I arrived at the hostal I booked beforehand for a nap….and things didn’t go well. They said the cost would be more, and the wifi didn’t work. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with Lindsay on the stateside, and she did some hostel research to find a better place. She is the self-proclaimed “best at finding good hostels.” After a large breakfast, I went to the second hostel…rewarded myself by paying a little extra for the room with AC and had a little nap before setting off to explore Guayaquil.
Since last time I was there, I didn’t get much time to see the inner parts of the city, I started there with a stop at Iguana Park. It is in the heart of the city, and is one of the only places you’ll see large land Iguanas casually hanging around. Some are laying out around a pool, and if you look up you can spot several among the trees. While I don’t think people should pick them up, they seemed used to having people around and were friendly. Likely because lots of people bring fruits and vegetables to feed them, so they are looking for their next meal.
After that, I took another walk down the Malecon, and made my way up the hill leading to the neighborhood Las Peñas. It has an extremely Spanish feel to it, with narrow walk ways and small restaurants up the long walk to the top. The steps are numbered, going all the way to 444. It’s worth the trek, because at the top you get a view of the whole city of Guayaquil from the lighthouse at the top of the hill. After making it down, I started to plan my dinner. Since this part of the country is coastal, I knew I had to try the seafood. I went to a restaurant called The Red Crab, and it did not disappoint. The shrimp and crab ceviche there may have been the best ceviche I’ve tried while I have been here. When returning to my room, I had no problem getting some sleep. I needed it too because I was heading to Salinas the next day.
Guayaquil View from the top of Las Penas
When at the coast, you have to go to the beach. There are several options, but the city I selected was Salinas. After a couple hours on the buses, which I am very proud to have navigated myself without issue, I made it to Salinas. The city has that beach vibe to it, and had a wide range of people there. Parts of the beaches have huge condos that look like something straight out of Miami, with a yacht club to match. There’s also small food stands and family areas where you can get a good and cheap meal. My hostel was on the beach, and had a bar with a beach view and $2 beers. I knew Lindsay made the right choice. I spent most of my first day relaxing, walking on the beach, drinking out of coconuts, eating ice cream and other stuff of that type.
On that Saturday, I had more time to explore and see more parts of the city. I took a long walk to La Chocolatera. This is the most western piece of land in the country, and the area is marked with a lighthouse. There are waves crashing throughout the rocks and in the near distance you can see large rock where sea lions usually hang out. Nearby is La Loberia, which is a viewpoint with a small museum (and snack shop with ice cream). I took a quick taxi back to the city, and headed to the part of town known for their seafood. I found a local place that had a whole platter of seafood for a very reasonable price, and I got to try everything. Local crab, shrimp, clams, octopus and probably few other things as well.
When traveling solo, I can’t recommended putting in the time to find a good hostel enough. It can made a trip so much better. It can help you relax and more importantly finding a good hostel helps you meet other travelers, and some of their stories are amazing. I met a few travelers from around South America, and could understand most of their travels. The most interesting people I met were a couple from New York, who drove there. Yes, they started in New York City and drove all the way to Ecuador. They weren’t stopping there either, their plan is to make it to Argentina. Then fly back, which I don’t blame them for doing. At this point, it’s been over two months in Ecuador and the time really seems to fly by whenever I look back. The country continues to surprise me. While I keep crossing things off my to do list, I find even more getting added to it. Until next week, #VidaLaVic.