Thursday, March 25, 2010


Guayaquil: Las Peñas from the Malecon

I have heard so much about Guayaquil, that it is dangerous, to stay away, not to hail a cab on the street, not to walk around on my own. When we arrived at the airport, there was no driver from the hotel as had been planned. I called the hotel in a panic and when I asked about our ride, was told that the taxi driver was not answering his phone and to take a cab from the airport for $5. I told the desk clerk that I was worried because I read so many alerts from the US Embassy warning us not to take cabs in Guayaquil. A woman overheard my conversation and informed me that it was safe to take the airport cabs and that the other cabs were as dangerous for locals as they were for tourists. She brought me outside to show me which cabs were safe and told me that she wanted tourists to have a good experience in Guayaquil and to come back. I was touched by her concern.

I like Guayaquil airport because I can sit at Juan Valdez and use internet. I had to build up my courage before I took a taxi, so espresso does it for me, along with a phonecall to Eric to assure him of our safety and ask him how his visit to Ecomontes Tours was. He had been told to return on Monday to talk to Christian, the manager. I guess that will be on my agenda! When Rebecca and I showed up at the Ministry of Tourism office promptly at 7:55 this morning to discuss our 'denuncia' with 'Sandra', Freddy showed up with his daughter Janeth and his lawyer, to denounce me and press libel charges because I called him a thief. I assured him that he was a thief. I was concerned that his so called lawyer had access to all our information and was reading the 'denuncia' and I will not be surprised if it disappears and that Freddy will cover up everything. He was threatening me again, but there were many people there to be entertained by the heated exchange, that I did not feel frightened. Rebecca was getting more and more distraught watching the interaction and not understanding anything, and after a while it appeared that nothing would happen anyway, so we left for the airport. I think this town is so small and everyone knows everyone and everything, so Freddy discovered that we were going to the Ministry today and came to intimidate us. I am also sure that he will either rip up the 'denuncia' or pay off someone to erase it and will not miss a beat in taking advantage of the next gullible tourist. He will be operating today or tomorrow and there will be no consequences for him. But I will follow up with the Ministry of Tourism in Quito anyway. I expect that I will not get a penny back, but I will make some noise, a few waves.

I was scared last night and again this morning. Rebecca and I were glad to get off the islands and find safety in Guayaquil. I love this city! It has energy and spirit. We like our hotel, which is a 'hostal' located directly on the 'Malecon', with a balcony and a river view. The decor is funky and quaint, and the receptionist speaks English!!! What a difference that makes!

We walked to the cathedral to look at the iguanas in the park, and then walked the length of the Malecon, looking out onto the river Guayas at the boats and the islands across the way. A family came up to us to warn us about thieves and to watch carefully with our cellphones and cameras, again because they want tourists to enjoy their city and come back!

Iguana Up Close

We ate dinner at a table with a view across the river and watched the sun go down and the river go dark. It felt good to be back on Tierra Firma; no matter the reputation of this place, it feels like a city and it exudes great energy. The further away we are from Freddy, the safer we feel!

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