Monday, May 02, 2011

Day 9: Galapagos to Guayaquil

Note: Because I had no internet connection on the boat, I'm posting these about a week after they actually happened. I'll post one Galapagos post each day, followed by Machu Picchu posts, so you can live vicariously through my diaries and photos.


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We started the day with one last island visit: North Seymour, north of Baltra, which is north of Santa Cruz. We got there early and went for a short walk to see the nesting frigates and boobies.

From Galapagos8-North Seymour

Male frigate birds have this red pouch below their beaks that they blow up to attract females. The build a nest (which is kind of a platform of twigs and poop), blow up their pouches, and sit to wait for a female to fly by. When she does, they open up their wings and make noises. If the female likes the looks of him, she'll land, inspect his nest, and maybe decide he's good enough for mating.

From Galapagos8-North Seymour

On the walk back, a baby sea lion went straight to Carlos and sniffed his feet. Apparently not finding what it was looking for, it went to each of us in turn, sniffing. It was very cute.

From Galapagos8-North Seymour

We said goodbye to Carlos and the crew around 8:30, bought souvenirs at the airport gift stalls, and flew on to Guayaquil, where we met our next guide, Fernando. He took us to our hotel to check in, then took us for a whirlwind tour of the city.


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Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador, with over 3 million people. It's also the economic center of the country, being the largest port in the country and on the largest river on the west side of South America. Guayaquil has many prominent residents and private foundations that invest in the city. In the last 15 years or so, several urban renewal projects have improved conditions for the residents, and made the city attractive to foreign emigrants from around the world.

The first place we visited was the city square, a park with a monument in the middle of I don't remember who. Probably Simon Bolivar, liberator of South America. But we were really there to see the iguanas. When the park was established over 100 years ago, it was set in a mangrove forest, where iguanas lived. So there the iguanas remain, about 200 of them, tame enough for petting.

From Guayaquil

Next we walked along the Malecon, a 2 mile long boardwalk along the Guayas River with various attractions, including playgrounds, a pirate ship, a botanical garden, an IMAX theater, museums, monuments, restaurants, and bars. It's really the place to be, and I thought Hartford should do something like that. There is a river walk in Hartford, but there's no reason to go there, and no easy way to get there.

From Guayaquil

At the north end of the Malecon is the oldest part of the city, which was built with Spanish and French influence in the 1600's. For a while it fell into disrepair, but it's since been restored to its former glory and seems to be an up-and-coming haven for artists and the like. We walked along the narrow cobblestone road, by beautiful houses set on the river (Fernando says they go for about $400,000), and to a boutique selling organic chocolate and other tourist-chic items. I bought chocolate and a picture book called "How the Boobie Got His Feet."

From Guayaquil

We had a delicious dinner back at the hotel (I had gotten tired of boat food, and this was a welcome change) and I attempted to catch up on emails and uploading.

Click here for the North Seymour album, and here for the Guayaquil album.

See vacation summary (with links to each day).

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