Ecuador Chronicles VI: Guayaquil

Greetings readers! I have been MIA doing all sorts of things, but also I figured such absence would build suspense! Muahaha!!… Okay, enough suspense. Where was I?

Up until this point in the trip, we were terrified of going to Guayaquil. Why? Every single time we told anyone that was where we would be meeting up with our friends and going to the sign language assembly, their responses were “Woah, just be very, very careful there.” Literally everyone we told in Quito and Cuenca would react like this. We heard stories of there being many robberies. Then, we were told the most scary thing that anyone in this generation could hear, “Cell phones are targets”.

We began to imagine this giant city full of scary people everywhere. What are we going to do? It’ll be quite obvious that we are from another country, what if they target us? Well, we decided to remain calm. For the most part, we were expecting to be with brothers and sisters and I’m sure they’ve had a lot of visitors from around the world anyway because of Bethel. We all prayed and up until that point everything had worked out thanks to Jehovah. Besides, I’m sure if anything crazy were to happen, we would stick together and if we survived it, we would have another crazy story to add to our list of casualties. Well, let me tell you guys exactly what happened…

…nothing happened…

…except a great time!

We took a smaller shuttle from cool, crisp Cuenca, to hot and humid Guayaquil. One of the brothers, who rescued us from the initially awkward Cuenca situation, drove us to the shuttle drop off point. We bought our tickets, thanked him and said our goodbyes before hopping on. The whole ride was about 4 hours long and the road was very bumpy, but the scenery changes were incredible! It changed from green hills, grassy valleys and fields to topical jungle looking plants and endless coconut palm and banana trees! At one point, we were so up high on a hill that we were riding above the clouds!

Bumpy roads make for blurry pictures
Riding above the clouds!
Gorgeous hills still close to Cuenca
Tropical banana trees closer to Guayaquil

We arrived to Guayaquil and reunited with our friend Ziv and his mom, Ruthi. The moment we stepped out of the shuttle, the humid heat welcomed us with a slap in the face. From there, we took a couple of taxis (since it was 6 of us now with luggage), and headed to the hostel we were going to stay for the next couple of days. We settled in and went to get food while also stopping by the market that was close by to shop for food that we can cook in the hostel. We left our phones in our luggage and took the least amount of belongings as possible. We were still paranoid but in the end it wasn’t so bad.

It was my very first experience in a hostel! The four of us girls stayed in one room together with two sets of bunks. Downstairs there was a pool, a lounge area, a kitchen, and there was even a dog! We saw some foreigners come and go, most of which were backpackers. I had never seen so many backpackers in my life until this entire trip. Every morning the hostel made breakfast with fresh-squeezed fruit juice and coffee… no, the juice was fresh squeezed, not the coffee, in case you were wondering. Tiff, Bree and I brought our vegan protein powder with us, and made it a habit to pour a scoop into our coffee.

One night, the four of us were cooking together in the kitchen and, well, this may be TMI and I apologize, but I remember we were talking about our puke stories. Fun fact: apparently I haven’t puked as much as the average person, but I also remember having an intense fear of puking when I was a child. Maybe I held it in? Not sure. It’s been too long since it last happened. Not your typical conversation topic, but we talk about everything. I remember we also went swimming at the pool, not sure if it was that night or one of the other nights (perhaps our last night there). The night time swim was followed by a long conversation. Gosh, I miss it there.

Now, the odd thing about Guayaquil is that this mysterious breeze glides through the whole city every night and shakes the palm trees… However, it also shook the loose metal shingles on one of the rooftops around us, this meant sleep wasn’t much of my thing during our stay there.

Saturday morning we got ready for the assembly. A sister with a larger vehicle was to pick us up and drop us off for three days: Saturday and Sunday would be for the assembly, and on the third day (Monday) we would tour Bethel.

Not only were we attending a three-day convention in another country, but we were attending a three-day convention in Ecuadorian Sign Language! We were able to understand about half since many of their signs are a lot like ASL. It was so nice to meet deaf brothers and sisters from around that area and many there were also involved in the sign language translation department in Bethel! We certainly had a blast!

After the assembly on Sunday, we went to a Mediterranean restaurant. Guayaquil is a large city with people from all over the world so it was no surprise that there was also many international foods. We ordered a vegetable platter with “falafels” (the reason I added the “” was because they did not taste anything like real falafels). It was there where we made another friend, Jordy, and his sister. We all sat together and then BG, Tiff, Bree, Ziv and I hopped into Jordy’s car so he could show us around the city. He was taking us to, perhaps not the safest place in the city, but my goodness was it gorgeous! It was an old part of the city covered in cobbled stones and so many stairs. It all lead to a lighthouse. When we finally climbed to the top of the lighthouse, together we all sang “A lovely night” from La La Land.

Monday was Bethel. We loved it there! We became friends with the brother touring us, Eric, who was already one of Ziv’s friends. He gave us the tour in English and we even ran into Jordy again who was working in the kitchen. Bethel was super cute and their introduction video was one of the coolest Bethel videos we had ever seen! After the tour, we spent time with old friends that Tiff and Bree knew. Their Bethel apartment was really neat! I can’t remember much of what we talked about, except I remember being obsessed with the cookies they offered to us.

Translation Office for LSE
Guayaquil Bethel lobby

What I learned from all of this is that things are never quite like how we imagine it. I try not to worry, but sometimes we just can’t help it. An Ecuadorian friend of mine who lives in New York told me “Guayaquil? Dangerous? pleeeease! New York is way worse!” My friend there is not wrong, New York can be crazy. I guess what makes it scarier is the fact that it’s somewhere foreign to us. I think it’s important to be as cautious as possible: definitely, stay safe and take care, but sometimes our own worries and the way we imagine things cause us more internal anxiety than the actual situation. Guayaquil is like any other large city in the world. Large cities are intimidating to people who are from smaller cities or villages. Yes, take care and be safe, stick to friends who know their way and you’ll have a great time!

Next up, our stay in Ballenita and La Libertad, then the adventures of Isla Puna and Valdivia. Okay, so there are about three, maaaybe four posts left (or maybe five… I don’t know yet). Thank you for being patient. This trip meant a lot to me and while we are all stuck in our homes, It’s felt like such an adventure to recall it!

Stay healthy!

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