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Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Days 91-92: On the Wrong Side of the World

May 9-10, 2006

It was late at night when our plane landed in Ecuador and we took our first steps on the "wrong" side of the world :) (Guayaquil is slightly below the equator line). Although a big port town, Guayaquil did not look very active on Monday night, and neither did we. A room in a decent hotel fulfilled all our needs for the night, and the official opening day of the other America was postponed until the next morning.

The first major project on the other side was to look for the peculiarities of South America. In general, Guayaquil did not appear much different from a typical big city of Central America: similarly abundant budget hostels and Internet cafes on every corner; lots of old-fashioned eateries, where every meal necessarily comes with a ton of rice (rice only, though! - have not noticed the legendary rice'n'beans combo anywhere); and, finally, similar hectic streets full of old Russian Ladas and homicidal bus drivers. Only our favorite "chicken buses" (old school buses imported from the States, typically repainted in bright colors and assigned such indisputable names as "Rey de la Carretera" (King of the Road), "Rey de Reyes" (The King of Kings) and alike; frequently seen everywhere in Central America) had all remained above the Darien Gap.
There is lots of music of all kinds in Ecuador. Seems like every Ecuadorian either knows how to dance to impress (the honest-to-goodness truth: all the Latin men are natural-born dancers!), or plays some musical instrument, or at least has got a loud stereo player and is determined to share his hottest salsa hit collection with the entire neighborhood. The contemporary folk music, a.k.a. salsa, is, of course, on top, but other genres and popular bands can also be heard playing or being played.

There is not much to see or do in Guayaquil, but it is possible to spend a relatively pleasant day or two, in case you have to stay there for some reason. Our reason was the car, which was arriving at the port of Guayaquil two days later than us, and the low-priced tickets to the Galapagos (not sure if $300 tickets for a 1.5 hour flight to the islands can be called low-priced, but the flights originating in Guayaquil are cheaper than those from anywhere else, including the capital Quito).

Notorious for being the most dangerous city of Ecuador, Guayaquil is evidently trying hard to become safer, prettier and more interesting. The city has transformed the once very dangerous waterfront street into the fancy "Malecon 2000": an attractive 2.5km long boulevard along the Rio Guayas, filled with all sorts of pieces of architecture, shops, restaurants and inexpensive snack bars. There is also a visitor center offering free Internet access, and lots of "Policia de Turismo" all over the place. If by any chance you do not feel safe enough on Malecon 2000, continue to the artsy Las Penas district situated at the northern end of the Malecon - we counted about 2 policemen per tourist over there! Most of the wooden colonial houses of Las Penas have been turned into pretty art galleries, while the top of the hill, Cerro Santa Ana, opens fantastic views of the entire city. A dodgy area in the past, today Cerro Santa Ana looks absolutely safe.

Tip #1: The main office of Banco de Guayaquil, located in the downtown of Guayaquil, seems to be the only bank in town that has got a vague idea about what a certified check (a money order) is, and sort of knows how to issue one; however, that also depends on which bank employee you happen to talk to!
Just to be on the safe side, upon arrival in Guayaquil we contacted APL de Ecuador to make sure we had all the necessary papers in order and would be able to pick up the cars on Thursday. Naturally, it turned out we had to pay more money!! A $72-container-release-or-something fee could only be paid by check or wire transfer because APL does not accept cash or credit card payments. Since we have no bank account in Ecuador and could not transfer the funds, we went in search for a certified check.
Getting one turned into a whole day project. Most of the banks either had no idea what we were talking about, or suggested that we opened a bank account in Ecuador (out of the question! - judging from the speed of other bank operations, opening an account would probably take a year!).
Finally, one of the clerks at Banco de Guayaquil found a way to sell a money order to us. In order to get one, we had to present a printed petition, stating that we were really willing to buy a $72-value certified check :) Hand written requests are not accepted! (The helpful lady at the information desk will print it for you, just look helpless and ask nicely).

Click on the pictures to enlarge

Malecon 2000 along the Rio Guayas

Henry Morgan, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Rio Guayas krantine Malecon 2000

Looks like we've just missed Che who stopped by to have his portrait painted... and also the horse...

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Kaip gaila! - Praziopsojome, kaip isiamzinti atejo Che... ir arkliukas...

Cerro Santa Ana

Cerro Santa Ana, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Cerro Santa Ana

The charming backstreets of Las Penas

Cerro Santa Ana, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Siauros zavios Las Penas gatvytes

A little bit too neat? We thought so, too :)

Cerro Santa Ana, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Gal net truputi per saldu? Mes irgi taip pagalvojome :)

The stairway to the top of Guayaquil

Cerro Santa Ana, Guayaquil, Ecuador

Laiptai i Gvajakilio virsune

The city from above - to the left...

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Toks vaizdelis is virsaus i kaire...

... and to the right

Guayaquil, Ecuador

O toks i desine

Downtown Guayaquil

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Gvajakilio centras

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

91- 92-oji dienos: Anapus

2006 m. geguzes 9-10

I Gvajakili (Guayaquil - Ekvadoro uostas, i kuri issiuntem Nissana) vakar atskridom jau sutemus, todel siryt vos galim sulaukti ausros; o isausus puolam laukan ziureti, kaip smarkiai Pietu Amerika skiriasi nuo Centrines. Musu nedideliam nustebimui, is pirmo zvilgsnio Gvajakilis visai panasus i Panama: panasiai daug interneto kaviniu, biudzetiniu viesbuciu ir tarybinio stiliaus uzkandiniu; gatvemis zuja panasiai daug Ladu (ispudingiausi - geltoni sesto modelio Ziguli-taksi); o zmones net gi kalba tokia pacia kalba! :))

Taciau yra ir is karto pastebimu skirtumu. Pavyzdziui, cia nebera simpatiskuju "vaziuojanciu vistidziu" ("chicken bus" - is JAV importuoti mokykliniai autobusai, labai populiarus visoje Centrineje Amerikoje, kur tradiciskai tampa perdazomi ryskiom spalvom ir ivardinami reiksmingais vardais, kaip kad "Rey de la Carretera" (Keliu Karalius), "Rey de Reyes" (Karaliu Karalius), "Dios Me Guia" (Dievas man rodo kelia) ir panasiai; "vistidemis" pavadinti del ispudingo keleiviu asortimento - tokiame autobuse gali tekti prisesti salia kolegos turisto arba salia i turgu issiruosusio ukininko ozkos, arba, mielos moteriskes paprasytam, ant keliu palaikyti krepsi su visciukais).
Ekvadore zymiai daugiau muzikos, ypac "tautines" salsos. Ispudis toks, kad cia visi arba groja, arba soka, arba bent jau kuo garsiau leidzia populiariausius hitus. Gatvese sunkiai issitenka piratiniu CD pardavejai (standartine disko kaina - $1) - neoficialaus "uzleisk muzika taip, kad nustelbtum uz 2 metru grojanti konkurenta" konkurso dalyviai. Prie tokio muzikinio popuri nepratusiems praeiviams, deja, po pasivaiksciojimo po miesta dar ilgai spengia galvoj.
Vakarais eiti sokti gvajakilieciams taip pat butina, kaip vakarieniauti. Net taksi vairuotojas, pavezantis is uosto I viesbuti, nepraleidzia galimybes uzklausti, ar jau apsisprendem, I kuria salsoteka sivakar eisim - gal noretumem eiti su juo kartu?!?! :))

Ketvirtadieni turetu atplaukti masina, todel abidvi dienas tam intensyviai ruosiames: susirandam APL'o ofisa, uosta, muitine, banka, galinti isduoti sertifikuota ceki (vel ta pati problema, kokia jau turejom Panamoj - su APL'u grynais atsiskaityti neimanoma, pavedima padaryti galima tik is saskaitos Ekvadore, o apie sertifikuota ceki dauguma banku nera net girdeje! Siaip ne taip radom viena banka, kuris sugalvojo buda, kaip parduoti mums sertifikuota ceki). Kitaip tariant, dvi dienos ir vel uzsipildo jau per gerai pazistamais masinos siuntimo reikalais, tik si karta nebe Panamoj, o Ekvadore. Naktimis sapnuojam Nissano "skrydi" per Atlanta ir laiminga rytoju, kuriame daugiau nebereikes eiti i muitine, rasyti pareiskimu ir rinkti antspaudu...

Pats Gvajakilis pasirode per didelis, truputi per purvinas, nelabai grazus ir nelabai idomus uostamiestis. Girdejom, kad taip pat ir pats pavojingiausias miestas visame Ekvadore (apie vagiu gausuma ispejo ir is oro uosto i centra pavezes taksistas, ir viesbucio darbuotojai, ir visi kiti gvajakilieciai, su kuriais suspejome susipazinti), bet sito negalim nei patvirtinti, nei paneigti - vaiksciojom po Gvajakili ir diena, ir nakti - ir be nuotykiu. Populiaresniuose rajonuose - pilna turizmo policijos (Itartinai daug - maziausiai po 2 policininkus kiekvienam turistui! Taciau jie nieko nedaro, tik ramiai sedi kampuciuose ir maloniai sypsosi praeiviams.)
Pavojingas ar ne, sis miestas nelabai vertas demesio, bet, is neturejimo ka veikti (pavyzdziui, laukiant atplaukiancios masinos), galima pasivaikscioti modernia Malecón 2000 krantine palei Rio Guayas upe, apziureti Las Penas - istorinio meniniku rajono - galerijas, uzlipti i Cerro Santa Ana - kalna, nuo kurio puikiai matosi visas miestas, arba pagainioti po Bolivaro parka (Parque Bolivar) lakstancias ispudingo dydzio iguanas.

Vis tik pagrindine Gvajakilio atrakcija yra pigius lektuvo bilietus i Galapagu salas parduodancios kelioniu agenturos (jeigu $300 bilieta pusantros valandos skrydziui galima pavadinti pigiu!!, taciau tai yra geriau, negu dar siek tiek brangesni skrydziai is sostines Quito, arba zymiai brangesni is bet kur kitur). Taigi, kantriai sedim Gvajakilyje, labai laukiam masinos ir truputi svajojam apie Galapagus.

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