Guayaquil, Ecuador

Here I am again in an Ecuadorian airport thinking back to the incredible experiences that got me here. Guayaquil is an incredible city in so many ways and probably holds a higher space in my memories than Quito did. For reference, Guayaquil and Quito are the two largest Ecuadorian cities (I’ve seen conflicting sources saying each is larger so I’ll leave it at that) with two very different styles. Quito is a mountainous town on the equator so the climate is temperate while Guayaquil is a coastal city with a giant boardwalk and a thriving downtown. 

Another noticeable difference between the cities is a feeling of safety in the center of town. I was told by many people in Quito to stay inside after dark and always watch my belongings. On the contrary, I felt happy to walk around Guayaquil’s center of town (alone, albeit as a male). The craziest contrast to my experience is that at the time of my visit, the U.S. state department advised against my visit to Guayaquil and had nothing to say about Quito. Oh well!

After strolling the Malecón 2000 boardwalk, riding on the Aerovia to Duran and back, and reading with iguanas walking around, I had the opportunity to talk to an Ecuadorian yesterday who told me a lot about the politics and culture of her country. Although not nearly as tumultuous as neighboring Peru, Ecuador’s politics are full of stories of corruption, intimidation, and even murder. However, everything I know is from the lens of a single Ecuadorian so I’ll leave it at that.

The food I’ve had has been really incredible, super cheap, and surprisingly filling as I usually don’t even finish my plates. Some great dishes here are ceviche, corviche, bolón (I’m told I ate one at a bad shop), tigrillo (particularly amazing), empanadas, and crab (a special treat for a Marylander to see). I actually had so many shrimp dishes that I’m trying to remember if there was a day in Ecuador that I didn’t have shrimp. Not sure! But anyone who enjoys food destinations would love Ecuador.

Although I haven’t visited Baños and Cuenca (and won’t for this trip), I can say Guayaquil was my favorite city in Ecuador. All I have left before my return to the United States (to include my first National Guard drill weekend and my move to Philadelphia for my first job post-graduation) is to explore the Galapagos Islands! Here we go!

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