Arriving in this large city was quite a transition from the last three weeks in Ecuador.  To begin with this is the largest city in the country, with a population of 2,350,000; it is located at sea level; and temperatures have been up in the 90's each day.  We were really getting accustomed to the 60's and 70's in the Highlands.  Of course, Quito is the second largest city in the country, not far behind this steamy coastal city, but we had spent all our time there in the Historic District, which made it seem more like a cozy little area.

We made arrangements to stay near the popular waterfront district known as Malecon 2000.  Overlooking the Guayas River, the boardwalk runs for 1.5 miles, and includes everything from playgrounds, gardens, restaurants, a mall, bars, a couple of different food courts, museums, and even
an IMAX theater.  Safety in the area is maintained through cameras and security personnel.  On our last evening in town, a large cultural production, free to the public was given near the center, which was conveniently located across the street from our hotel.

Another unique offering in the city is the Iguana Park, also known as Parque de Simon Bolivar. Hundreds, if not thousands, of iguanas make this area their home in the shadow of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Guayaquil.  Trees filled with screeching parrots add to the atmosphere, to confirm your presence in the tropics.  As the day progresses, the iguanas join the parrots overhead, and some of the trees are so full of the prehistoric looking reptiles, that they seem to quiver.

Starting off early one morning, we headed to Las Penas which overlooks the Malecon, and the whole city, in fact.  Galleries, shops and restaurants fill the streets, but this is the neighborhood where Guayaquil started, and some of the house along the hill are over 100 years old.  There are 445 step to the top, where you find the lighthouse, a small church, remnants of an old fort and fabulous overview of the city.

Now on to the Galapagos!

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