2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage
VIVA CUENCA

VIVA CUENCA!

My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Visiting Guayaquil--PART I-- THE MALECON

When I first arrived in Ecuador in July of 2010 for my one month visit to Cuenca, I stayed overnight in Guayaquil.  The passage through customs was long and grueling.  It was well past midnight, and getting settled into a comfortable hotel, and sleeping for a few hours before preparation for my flight to Cuenca did not give me the opportunity to experience Guayaquil in any meaningful way.  I just remembered the great hotel I slept in that night, the wonderful bell-hop who assisted me, the humidity, and the warning not to venture far from the hotel because of crime.

If you wish to read about that first day of arrival in Guayaquil, Ecuador; you may do so at the following link:

http://cuencaperspectivesbyjim.blogspot.com/2010/07/from-chicago-to-cuenca.html

Since I have lived in Cuenca, I have heard universal stories about the corruption and crime levels in Guayaquil, how it is Ecuador's industrial city, not very attractive as industrial cities go,  with not much to do, and with little in the way of cultural activities.  A few months ago I briefly made a transportation transfer from Playas on the coast, to Guayaquil, and back to Cuenca.  The humidity in the city was stifling, and I did not care if I never set foot in Guayaquil again.

When my brother, Leo, and his wife, Carla, took me for a loop, and suddenly announced they wanted to spend a few days of their two weeks in Cuenca to visit Guayaquil and experience another part of Ecuador as well; I was abruptly caught off guard.  I decided the one positive place I had heard about in the city to visit was the Malecon.  The Malecon 2000, as it had been aptly named,  had been developed in recent years, and runs for about three miles along the Guayas River in Guayaquil, which leads to the Pacific Ocean.

I was really happy we made the trip.  The weather was humid, but tolerable during the two nights and three days that we visited.  Both days it rained during the morning, and it was all cleared up by late morning, and remained that way the rest of the day.  We stayed at the Ramada Inn which is across the street from the Malecon.  It was very clean, with spacious rooms, reasonably priced, and had an excellent handicap room and shower to accommodate my sister-in-law.

For those of you from the Chicago area, I can best describe the Malecon as being somewhat comparable to Navy Pier, only instead of protruding into the lake like Navy Pier, the Malecon parallels the Guayas River for approximately three miles.  A very beautiful job was done with the layout of the Malecon and the endless attractions it has to offer.  However, the Malecon does lack the dramatic effect provided to Navy Pier and the coastline by Lake Michigan, whose expanse on the horizon is far beyond what the eye can see.  Nor does the river, like Lake Michigan, provide the rolling waves that continuously wash up and break along the shoreline of the Great Lake.  The Guayas River is wide, and like any river one can see its bank on its opposite side, but it probably is wider than all four rivers together that meander through Cuenca.  However, the water basically just lies there.  This is quite a contrast from the very narrow four rivers which run through Cuenca. These river waters follow the gravitational force downward from the Cajas, and the large amount of rocks found in these unnavigable rivers, only adds to the excitement of the rapids as they pulsate through Cuenca.  I would describe the movement of the river in Guayaquil  at best as serene, and at worse as lifeless.

Nevertheless, the Malecon itself was well worth our time, and a creation that the people of Guyaquil can be very proud.  It offers casual relaxation not only to the tourists, but to those people of Guayaquil who are fortunate enough to take advantage of its amenities.  We spent from Monday until Wednesday in Guayaquil, and I just can imagine the crowds present on the weekends.  Late afternoon and early evening was a nice time for us, with less humidity and some breezes off the river.

Besides being an exceptionally  beautifully designed, expansive walkway, the Malecon offers something for everybody:  museums; botanical gardens with fountains, lagoons, islands, bridges, and ramps; playground areas for the kids; boat rides up and down he river; historical statues and monuments; a Moorish Clock Tower; restaurants, bars, and endless eateries; shopping malls that are ensconced at a lower level stretching along the esplanade with the multiple cellular structures of the overall mall prevented from dominating the space around it.  The mall complex is fully air-conditioned, and separated into sections as one walks from one section of the mall to another as it snakes its way along the esplanade.  There are also attractive and fun playgrounds for the children.  The Malecon is also home to the Guayaquil Yacht Club, and the Naval Yacht Club.

We were not interested in taking a boat ride, and my brother and his wife tired the first evening.  They returned back to the hotel, while I continued my walk along the river.  The next latter afternoon and early evening we walked the same length, because Leo and Carla had missed so much from the day before.  By the time we arrived back to the entrance area of the Malecon near our hotel, we did not continue down to the other end.  I assumed it could not be but a half a mile to a mile, because the stretch we had already walked in just one direction seemed like at least two miles.  The following day as we made our way in the taxi from the hotel to catch our van ride back to Cuenca, we drove past the part of the Malecon that we never did get a chance to walk.  Much to our surprise we saw as we rode by:  the Planetarium; the Museum of Anthropology, which also features local and international artists, with frequent changes in exhibitions; and of course, that was also the area where the IMAX Theatre, the first built in South America, was located.  Oh well, something for me to look forward to the next time I am in Guayaquil, and I will be looking forward to telling Leo and Carla all about what they missed.

I hope you enjoy the slides.  I do not have any slides of the mall.  I just didn't think to take any while we walked through
the mall, and of course, there are no slides of the museums and IMAX that we missed at the other end of the Malecon.  Nonetheless, this is truly a trip worth taking.  If you don't know the routine yet.  Click below.  Click on the "slideshow" label in the upper left-hand corner of the page.  Either set the timer for seven seconds, or as I would recommend just continue to manually click on the forward arrow, and then you can view each slide at your pace:

https://picasaweb.google.com/111741036841400152108/MalacanGuayaquilEcuador?authkey=Gv1sRgCNCk4cL84KuMag

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