Last weekend, some of the group traveled to Guayaquil on Indepedent Student Travel, meaning we made all of our own arrangements for transportation, lodging, and food, and we traveled without leaders. Eight of us went -- Alexandra, Alexis, Renee, Lily, Emily, John, Ian, and me -- on Friday and we returned to Bua on Sunday.
Guayaquil is on the coast in the south, and historically is a much more liberal and diverse city than Quito, because it was exposed to foreign merchants via sea trade. We noticed a number of signs and graffiti opposing the constitution, because it also tends to be more economically conservative. Much like the United States, Ecuador´s political affiliations seem to be very regional.
We stayed at a really interesting hostel with lots of open-air spaces, hammocks, parrots, and free (delicious) breakfast: french toast. It wasn´t in a central location, however, so we took a public bus to the center on Saturday morning. We walked along the Malecon, the boardwalk that follows the river. We wandered into an older part of town, Las Penas, where we got lunch and discovered freshly churned ice cream. We visited the MAAC, the museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, where the exhibits varied from old pottery remains to progressive political artwork. One of the biggest surprises there was seeing a real Salvador Dali watercolor -- I noticed it, and thought that someone was ripping off his warped clock motif, but when I looked closely, it turned out to be a genuine piece!
Saturday evening we got dinner on the boardwalk where there was live music and far more people than we´d seen all day. We were in Guayaquil just days after the city´s independence celebration, and we´d expected it to be crowded and lively. All day, it seemed deserted, but at night, people did come out to celebrate. The boardwalk was full of people, and we spent the evening just wandering and taking in the sights: tons of vendors selling food, people with wild hats, and fireworks.
It was a great weekend trip, and we made it back to Bua in time to watch Ecuador beat Chile in qualifying rounds for the 2010 World Cup!