Guayaquil is a the biggest city in Ecuador. A huge transportation hub, and only 40 min from Milagro, we bussed it to Guayaquil every weekend to either stay the weekend or hop a bus to a new destination. It's right on the river, and despite it's size and population, is relatively quite and really very clean. Like any big city, it offers it's share of nice restaurants and the comforts of a metropolis.
It has a huge beautiful church in the central square. Which looks out on...
An iguana park! Seriously, they are absolutely everywhere! In trees, in little ponds. Obviously on benches! Yikes. Iguanas are neat, but hundreds of them....when in Ecuador!
It also has an incredibly fun neighborhood called Las Peñas. A short climb up, oh, 456 stairs brings you through this colorful and historic neighborhood. A perfect time to take a break from the heat and humidity for a little mora ice cream! Guayaquil suffered and earthquake and this neighborhood has posted before and after restoration pictures outside of many homes and businesses.
A view from the top!! Las Peñas is nestled on the hill right behind the church. There is also a GIGANTIC cemetery in Guayaquil. We visited but were not allowed to take pictures. There were extremely elaborate tombs, and lots of local taxi driver ghost stories revolving around the tomb of Victor Emilio Estrada. Apparently his spirit wanders at night and hails a cab to his grave...and trust me, taking a taxi in Sud America can be a slightly dangerous ordeal even without competition from "undead" passengers!
Anyways, back down the hill! We stayed at Hotel Andaluz each time we went to Guayaquil. It was very nice, and they are really quite flexible with prices! If you sort of just stare at the initial quote they will quickly ask you what you are willing to pay. We responded $20, and locked that price down each time we returned!
You meet extremely cute kids everywhere you go, with some mad saleperson skills. How could you not buy agua from that smile????
Last stop, Parque Historico! Complete with an amazing zoo! Birds, monkeys, ocelots, tapirs, tortugas (sort of tortuga-ed out by this point) made up the menagerie!