October 20, 2006
I was warned that Guayaquil wasn't very nice, so I wasn't disappointed. It's a big, loud, dirty, impoverished city. The traffic noise really started to get to me when I was trying to sleep, but luckily I had earplugs. The main attractions in town that I read about were the museums and the churches. I wasn't in the mood to go to any museums after spending so much time at the Smithsonian, and every town in Latin America has at least one big church. Once you've seen one, you've seen them all. The only thing that made today interesting was a visit with a friend of a friend.
I walked to Las Leñas, a nice part of town with lots of restaurants, bars, and clubs to meet with Fred, a friend of Robyn, who I met in Peru a few months ago. Like Robyn, Fred is from a small town near Ottawa, Canada. He spent a year in Guayaquil as a foreign exchange student and now works at the Canadian/Ecuadorian consulate there. We talked a lot about Politics, and, not surprisingly, the last several presidents of Ecuador have been thrown out of office for corruption. This seems to be a pattern everywhere I go in South America. The final round of the presidential election is coming up soon, and it's between a billionaire conservative who wants to run the country like a business and a socialist who wants to nationalize everything possible. That sounds a lot like Chile's election last year, and it resembles what I've seen in several countries in South America. It's not clear who's going to win, so it will be interesting to be in the country come election time.
Fred has been all over Ecuador, so it was good to hear his stories. I've got plans to visit a lot of interesting places around the country, and Fred was the first foreigner I was able to get advice from. It made my otherwise uneventful to the biggest city in the country worthwhile.