Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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At sometime late at night around midnight I turned up in Portoviejo after traveling all day since the morning from Piura in Peru
up the coast through Tumbes and into Ecuador passing through Guayaquil. This was my second time in Ecuador. Portoviejo is not in
the Lonely Planet and it was easy to see why. But I have good friends here that I wanted to visit.
Find a Hotel
I had no idea where I was going
to stay that night. A pair of local women were waiting to be picked up by a brother and offered to give me a ride to find a place
to sleep for the night which I gladly accepted. There was very little to choose from in the center of the city. The first hotel I
tried wanted to charge me $18USD, so I tried another and there was a room available at about half that price.
After a good nights
sleep I awoke to the sound of a busy street outside. From the balcony I could see a lot of powerlines and an unattractive street
below. I decided that I wanted to change to another hotel for the next night. I found a cheaper one around the corner, the room
was pretty dingy but was only $6USD per night.
Walking in the City
My friend came to greet me and we went out walking around the city.
We came to a plaza and church with 2 towers with yellow domes at the top, one is a bell tower. We walked along a busy street toward
the stadium that had several statues and monuments in the middle. The center of the city is very busy and very noisy, the sound of
vehicles is a constant problem. There are markets, fruit stalls, clothing and people walking around selling lottery tickets and
random things like tv remote controls. People ride around on trolley bicycles which can carry goods and produce on them. There are
powerlines running in all directions above the streets attached to buildings of various colors.
The next morning I was awoken by the busy streets below from the
vehicles and horns and decided to find a place to stay that was not in the center of town, which was not easy. In the end I opted for
a room inside a rent by the hour hotel that was very near to my friends house and across the road from the stadium called Estadio Reales
Tamarindos and near to one of the universities. This was the best option I could find around the area but it was a clean hotel and the
constant stream of guests day and night didn't bother me.
The Botanical Gardens
You can't escape the fact that in Portoviejo there is a lot of concrete and
it is very noisy. There is not that much to do here but a good place to escape the noise is to visit the Botanical Gardens which has
some animals, plantlife, flowers and ponds. As my friend and I walked along the hot and busy street towards the Jardin Botanico we
passed a group of youth playing basketball on an outside court. Along a wall on one side of the court was graffiti of the face of Che
Guevara. The fence leading up to the gardens has nice flowers of red growing along it. It was great to get away from the road as we
entered and walked up the grassy pathway and under an interesting tree that had pear shaped things hanging from it but they were brown
in color. We came next to a nice pond area that had trees and ferns growing all around and a wooden bridge and waterfall. Nearby
we passed a garden of small plants all perched on logs of wood. A large iguana sat in a tree above us. We then came to a special
area for the animals, this area also had amazing fauna and a small pond of turtles sitting on rocks. There was some kind of spider monkey that
had a lot of character as well as a very funny bird that was very intent on peaking my camera as a I tried to take photos of it. We
also saw a raccoon or badger of some type and a happy pair of green parrots, some ducks and other birds. Later as we sat around the
main pond near the bamboo we noticed in the water the nose and eyes of an alligator. Nearby was a group of tiny baby alligators. Around
the pond are beautiful fan shaped ferns overhanging the water, palm trees and colorful flowers. There is an open green grassy area near
the pond where we saw a pair of very large iguanas moving slowly across the lawn. This day was a great experience.
Nightlife and Pickpocket
I spent another 3
days in Portoviejo for a total of about 6 nights experiencing some of the weekend nightlife with a group of friends at a nightclub
where we danced and drank shots. Later we were at an outside eating place sitting at bar stools eating rice with chicken when I felt
someone flicking their finger in my back pocket. I was enjoying my food and after a few times I realised what was going on and turned around and had a
few words with the guy standing behind me. All the people I met through my friend in the city made it a great stay. They took me to
their university a couple evenings and I sat in on class for a while on one occasion. After nearly a week in Portoviejo I was ready to
leave and go to much greener pastures.
Bus to Banos via Ambato
I wanted to go to Banos. In the evening after eating at a great Chinese restaurant I caught a
bus through the night through Ambato
changed buses somewhere around 5am in the wet and cold bus terminal and travelled to Banos
as the sun came up.