Day 2: Mini Tour of the City
Day 2 started off with an hour long yoga session with a dozen people on the roof terrace, a special congratulations to Shellie for doing her first inversion (specifically a head stand)! After breakfast at the restaurant on the main floor of the hostel or food from the grocery store, we loaded Julio’s van to commence our mini tour of the city. Our first destination was the Parque Seminario (Iguana Park); a park in the middle of the city where hundreds of Iguanas roam freely. Upon entering the park, Cynthia warned us about the dangers of standing under the trees: apparently Iguanas up in the trees do not give any warning before they defecate. Our condolences go out to Jamie, one of my roommates, who found out the hard way, thankfully her foot was an easy and quick fix. Some students were even brave enough to pet the Iguanas before we preceded to our second destination, the cathedral across the street.
The majority of Ecuador’s population is Roman Catholic, so it was a privilege to tour the inside the Catedral Catolica, Guayaquil’s Cathedral. The numerous archways inside and outside the cathedral were captivating, and along the top of the walls near the roof were mesmerizing stain glass windows of various Saints. Another amazing characteristic about the cathedral were the people; there were at least a dozen people praying in the pews, and at various areas of worship lining the inside of the cathedral.
We continued to our third destination, the Malecón 2000, a boardwalk that overlooks the Reo Guayas. After passing through the historical neighbourhood filled with colorful houses and stores, and climbing four-hundred and forty-four stairs we reached our fourth (but not final) destination Las Peñas: a plateau built at the top of the hill (small mountain) that encompasses a lighthouse and the oldest church in Guayaquil. Following the exploration of the plateau, we descended the four-hundred and forty-four stairs, crammed into the van, and drove to another set of stairs that lead to our fifth destination: the CerroSanta Ana.
The Cerro Santa Ana is another lengthy staircase that includes stone plaques illustrating the ‘Walk of Jesus’ leading up to another plateau where a gigantic statue of Jesus is situated. We descended the stairs back to the van, heading to our final destination: UEES.
UEES is the Universidad Espiratu Santo, the University of Guayaquil, http://www.uees.edu.ec/. This destination proved to be one of the most memorable due to its juxtaposition to the rest of the city. The university provides many facilities accessible to its students: an indoor gym with up to date equipment; an outdoor pool; a couple ping pong tables; a tennis court; a soccer field; an outdoor volleyball , basketball, and badminton court. The gated communities with security guards and the pressed white uniforms provided a distinct incongruity between downtown Guayaquil and the community surrounding the private university.
Today we received our first real glimpse at the stratification in Guayaquil, the radical difference between both communities standards of living. Tomorrow, we are visiting Damian’s House and were told that the voyage would only add more depth and understanding to the status system.
End of Day 2.