“That’s What Friends Are For”

There is a coffee made locally that is the best in the world - just ask any of my friends who have been here and had it! It is called Cafe Bolivar, but we call it "Jipijapa bus station coffee" because that is where we buy it. So I was thrilled when we were waiting for our bus to Guayaquil that the main man himself showed up to sell his wares - it was like meeting a celebrity!

There is a coffee made locally that is the best in the world – just ask any of my friends who have been here and had it! It is called Café Bolívar, but we call it “Jipijapa bus station coffee” because that is where we buy it. So I was thrilled when we were waiting for our bus to Guayaquil, that the main man himself showed up to sell his wares – it was like meeting a celebrity!

Last week, I had the opportunity to enjoy a very special time.  My oldest and dearest friends here, Bill & Elaine, finally received their long awaited residency visas.  Although for different reasons, they went through just about as much time, hassle and headache getting their’s as I did mine.  So it was my pleasure to escort them to Guayaquil to help them complete their last step of obtaining their Ecuadorian ID card, known as “cedula.”

Bill & Elaine with their long awaited cedulas.

Bill & Elaine with their long awaited cedulas.

I have been to Guayaquil on several occasions – most notably to shop for my appliances and have my memorable lunch with Robert, and I also stayed over night there before leaving for our cruise.  So I’d learned a bit about navigating my way around and also about what there is to see and do.  Bill & Elaine had never been, so for some time we had planned that we would stay over night and make an excursion of it.

 

It took us a while to catch a moment when no one else wanted a picture in front of this sign.

It took us a while to catch a moment when no one else wanted a picture in front of this sign.

Guayaquil is a three hour bus/car ride from me and is the largest city in Ecuador – right around 2.5 million people.  Although Quito is the capital, Guayaquil is the city of commerce.  It sits on the Guayas river and is the largest port in Ecuador.  I finally realized on this trip that what I liked about visiting Guayaquil, is that it feels a bit like coming home.  I lived in the big metropolis of Dallas, TX all my life, and although I could not wait to get out of the hustle and bustle of living in a big city, (and I would never want to live in one again) being in Guayaquil takes me back to my roots in brief nostalgia.

Bill & me in one of gardens along the malecon.

Bill & me in one of gardens along the malecon.

Walking around downtown Guayaquil with its mix of shops, restaurants, parks, hotels, cathedral and corporate buildings, isn’t much different than downtown Dallas.  Then there is the huge Mall del Sol, that rivals any mall that I’ve seen in the U.S. (they even have a Tony Roma’s restaurant!)  All the big hotel chains are there (although we chose to stay at a comfortable independent budget hotel near all the nicer ones).  In addition, there is a very impressive “malecon” (walkway) along the river with parks, gardens, children’s play areas, shops, restaurants and even a museum.  We also enjoyed going on my first visit to the enormous indoor artesian market, where there are rows and rows of stalls of vendors selling handcrafts from all over Ecuador – alpaca scarves & blankets, clothing, jewelry, woodworking, leather goods, art work, etc.  And the mall at the bus terminal in Guayaquil is a three-story wonder that is larger than either of the international airports in Ecuador and honestly rivals any airport terminal I’ve ever been in!  We packed in as much as we could in the two days we had there, but still left plenty more to see and do for another time.  Visiting Guayaquil reminds me that not every part of the country I live in is “third world.”

Another nice couple and single lady from Bill & Elaine's development travelled along with us and stayed in our hotel, but broke off to do their own excursions. Here we ran into them on the malecon.

Another nice couple and single lady from Bill & Elaine’s development traveled along with us and stayed in our hotel, but broke off to do their own excursions. Here we ran into them on the malecon.

Bill & Elaine were very grateful that I helped them navigate getting there, obtaining their cedulas and experiencing the city.  Of course I told them it was all my pleasure and after all, “That’s what friends are for!”

2 thoughts on ““That’s What Friends Are For”

  1. You really have your “land legs” under you now down there. You have done a great job getting yourself established and finding good friends.

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