Sunday 23rd August 2015
I went walking around Guayaquil to discover the city and also search for tours going to the Galapagos.
Here is the police station at the corner of the hostal.
Guayaquil looks very American, wide streets, square skyscrapers.
Wide pavements like in America.
Same type of lights in the streets.
On one of the wall was the list of many Ecuadorian painters, that was pretty cool.
Inside, during the mass.
Arrived at one of the agency, Galasam, recommended by my travel friend Nicola, but it was Sunday and closed.
All travel agencies were actually closed. Damn it!
So, no way to ask for information that day. Just went walking around the streets of Guayaquil, exploring this city. Many travellers think it is uninteresting and unsafe. I personally found it quite pretty!! And interesting for a few days exploring. There are a couple of things to do in Guayaquil, it is on the sea side and I did feel safe actually walking its streets!
A funny machine on the street
Parque del Centenario
Avenue del 9 Octobre
Policemen on the lookout, like in most cities of South America.
Back to the sea side walk, called the Malecon. There I ran into Anne and Patrick I had met in the bus the day before. Anne was taking her plane in the evening to Colombia to go volonteer there and as Patrick was interested to go to the Galapagos, we said we would catch up later in the evening for dinner and talk about the Galapagos trip.
Statues of famous Equatorian men
Children playing inside bubbles on the water
Local Mc Donalds where I had a quick lunch, first Mc Donalds in ages!!
View from the Mc Donalds
Museum Nahim Isaias in which I met local artists and saw 2 other exhibitions.
The local artists gallery, Marcos Ribadaneira and Mauro Sbarbaro.
The parque de los Iguanas nearby
On the Malecon.
Took a boat ride which went on the river for an hour. At the beginning, saw the pretty colourful buildings of the old city and the highest tower of Ecuador, on the other end a bridge which crossed to Satay Island on which lots of varieties of birds can be observed. It is also the side where the harbour is located, with a huge cement factory and the reparation of boats going on.
After that I met Patrick later at the Malecon again. We went for a drink nearby and talked about the Galapagos. I had prospected a bit on internet in the morning and we looked at the different options and decided to go talk to agencies the next day. After a drink we searched for a place for dinner but there was not that many restaurants opened especially on a Sunday, we found a kind of meat grill place where we had some heavy pork ribs and not sure what else, it was okish. Then he returned to his hostel and me to mine, and we decided to meet the next day when agencies would open!
In the evening, something crazy happened at the Tomo Hostal where I was staying. Around 11pm, I could hear a French guy arguing in English with the girl at the reception from my room. I hesitated to interfere, but it was lasting long so I went out of the room and he was arguing because they wanted to charge him a late arrival fee that had not been mentioned to him until now and was written nowhere explicitely. The bed in the dorm was 17 USD and the girl wanted to make him pay 20 USD extra for late arrival fee. I totally supported his cause. If something is not written explicitely, and if you don`t communicate to people before they arrive then you can`t charge them like this, especially a price even more expensive than the room! So I started arguing with her too in my spanishitalian. An American guy from my dorm room came out and was also shocked about what she said and argued also. Thinking about it now, I quite laugh about the situation, but on the moment we were all shocked and upset. He had just arrived and thought like most travellers that Guayaquil was super dangerous. I went with him in the main street near the Malecon helped him find a taxi who knew a hostal nearby. By principle, he refused to pay this extra money and I 100% supported his decision and would have done the same. Anyway, crazy night. I told the girl I wanted to talk with the manager, she said she would be there the next morning. Fine!
Monday 24th August 2015
In the morning, I argued again with another girl of the hostal about what had happened the night before, the manager was on holiday but she was the “second” and had exactly the same attitude as the receptionist the night before. She showed me that on booking.com website it says check-in hour is from 3pm to 10pm but not after. Fine but it is not written anywhere that you have to pay 20 USD late fee when you check-in late. She argued the guy had not told them. It was true in his emails he had not told them but had told them on the phone which could have been the moment where they could have told him. So we argued and I asked the email of the manager who was on holiday and I wrote to her the same again and later in the evening I received an email where again she defended the position of making this guy pay when he had not been informed beforehand. What an amazing customer service in Ecuador, whoohoo!! After arguing with the “second” girl in the morning, I decided that as a matter of principle, I was NOT gonna stay another night there. I whatshapped with Patrick whose hostal had recommended another hostal and packed my stuff and moved there where I met him.
Then we went to Galasam agency and asked about 8-day cruise tours. He started drawing various possibilities on a map.
Then I had a lunch nearby here in a local eatery. Patrick was not too hungry so he decided to eat some empanadas later.
Then we went back to the hostal and looked on internet for the plane tickets with various dates. There are three airlines going to Galapagos, Avianca, Tame and another one I already forgot! We found the best deals with Tame with different dates and went directly to the agency which was conveniently located right in front of Galasam. There we debated, should we go 10 days, 13 days, 15 days? Should we leave the 25th, the 26th or the 27th August which had a cheaper departure flight. It was a hard choice to make!! We put on hold some tickets leaving on the 27th August and coming back on the 8th September. Then we went to Galasam again and said that we had decided to go more days and therefore were very flexible with a cruise date departure which could be starting the next day and any day the next 7 days as the rest of days we would be doing day dive trips. We also said we had a preference for a cruise going to the West part, around Isabela. My friend Iris had been in the Galapagos and told me that the West part was to see big stuff and East part to see more birds, so I trusted her! The guy told us that a cruise on the San Jose boat was departing…the next day!! So we decided to book that. We gave him the deposit and then went in front again and put on hold tickets to leave on the 25th August and come back from San Cristobal Island. There were less flights leaving from San Cristobal and the departure date was either the 5th September or the 8th September. What a tough choice…Alright then…Let`s leave on the 8th September!!
After that, we went to every single bank possible to withdraw as much US Dollars as possible (Ecuador doesn`t have its own money anymore since 2000, so everything there is paid in US Dollars). We spent a good 2 hours doing that. Then went back to Tame and paid for the flights by card as there was no fee, then went back to Galasam and paid the cruise all in cash for Patrick and almost all in cash and a bit in card for me. And then after this exhausting day going back and forth getting organised, we headed to the Malecon again, to have a deserved sangria at our favourite only bar of Guayaquil!
We had dinner there and looked at the Galapagos maps and got dreaming about what was ahead of us, 15 days of paradise on the most beautiful islands of this Earth we live on. Exciting!!!!!!
The next day we were off to Galapagos!!! YIHAAAAAAAAA!!!!