Touristing and Animals | Downey First Christian Church

Last weekend the team from North Orange Christian Church went back to sunny, but cool California. I got to hang out with them on their last day as they went sight-seeing and bought souvenirs and trinkets. I didn’t realize how much I miss speaking in English, which is more fluent for me, until I spent the day with English-speakers. Nor did I realize how entrenched I was in translation mode until one of the team said something in Spanish and without missing a beat I turned to the Ecuadorian and repeated the phrase in English. I realized my mistake as soon as it was out of my mouth and we all had a good laugh at that.

Our sight-seeing began at Guayaquil Historical Park.  It’s “a place where history and nature meet, where buildings recount memories of a past that has been kept alive, and the traditions of centuries-old cultures who show us the way forward”. The first section is flora and fauna indigenous to Ecuador. The fauna included various kinds of parrots like these…

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…and this one,

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and Chilean flamingoes.

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We also saw a two-toed sloth with his buddy the Central American agouti who we called the rodent of unusual size.

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This is a collared peccary which looks (and smells) like a wild boar, but is allegedly vegetarian.

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My favorite was the river otter. Isn’t he cute?

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And the creepiest was the spectacled cayman.

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Of the flora, this cousin to the bird of paradise caught my eye.

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We walked through four different types of forest:  a tropical dry forest, a floodplain forest (wetlands), this mangrove forest (whose seeds can take root quickly between tides),

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and a drizzle forest.  Yes, as opposed to a rain forest.

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Then, the forests gave way to the restored architecture zone.

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They transplanted a few historical homes (built in 1890’s) from the center of Guayaquil across the river Daule to be reconstructed and restored on the park grounds.  The biggest home belonged to a doctor.

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The second floor is very spacious with plenty of doors to open for the river breezes to cool off from the heat of the day.

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A section of the ceiling is stuningly handpainted with a crystal chandelier.  Under it sits a grand piano and they occasionally hold classical musical concerts here.  What a delight that must be!

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Here the guide was telling us about these massive wooden doors carrying the initials of an important cocoa plantation owner.  The doors were rescued after surviving a massive fire that devastated Guayaquil in 1896.  The floor tile is an exact replica of the original.

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In this section of the park they have re-enactors in period costumes.  These are Guayaquil city folk.

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These are the “montubios” who live on and work the coffee and cocoa plantations.  This couple entertained us with “amorfinos” (their version of limericks).

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Here is a cocoa tree.  You can see the pods grow right off the trunk and branches.  These are still small and green, so they are not ready to pick yet.

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Giovanni was showing me the raised gardens preferred by the plantation workers for their personal use.  Vermin, grubs and snakes are less likely to invade a garden that’s off the ground.

After the tour we had typical Ecuadorian food at “Menestras del Negro“.  Their catch phrase is “prepared just like home”.

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I got a pork chop plate which also included rice (of course) with a “patacón” (fried and smashed plantain), “menestra” (stewed beans with cheese), and salad.  I also got fresh “naranjilla” juice.  Naranjilla has a citrusy orange flavor, looks like a persimmon on the outside and like a tomato when you cut it open.

We strolled a while along the esplanade in Guayaquil and then someone had the brilliant idea to climb the “Peñas” hill.

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It’s very picturesque with colorful houses. Also, there are a lighthouse and church to explore once you reach the top.

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There are also over 500 steps and they are kind enough to count them for you.  I plan to climb them one day, but that day I only got to the first outlook at 129 steps.  There I stopped with some others for ice cream and a coke.

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This is Cindy from NOCC.  She reminded me a lot of my mom, Cindy.

After walking around all day, we went to the artisan market for sourvenirs.  The team wanted to buy chocolate and coffee, but we took them to the grocery store for that.  It’s cheaper.

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The grocery store was really crowded and the lines were insane because it was end of the month so everyone was there spending their paychecks.  Daniela (Giovanni’s 2nd daughter) and Gregorio (her cousin) were troopers, smiling through the whole ordeal.  What a great way to end the day, with a smile. 🙂

Odds and Ends

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So, a cow escaped from the slaughterhouse (can you blame her?) and in her frenzy to get away crashed into this car just a couple doors down from the school.  No less than eight men came in a blue truck to get the cow, but the lady who owns the car stood in front of the truck to keep them from leaving because they denied the damage was from their cow.

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This is taken from the 3rd grade classroom.  As you can see many came out in support of the woman.  The “trici-motos” parked so the truck couldn’t get around.  And even the trash truck got involved.

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Many vendors, including this man selling crabs, saw the crowd and decided to not miss the opportunity to sell their wares.  I couldn’t stay and watch for long.  I had homework to grade.

The students (ok, probably their parents) like to get the notebooks back before the end of the day, so they can do their homework that afternoon even though it’s not due till the following week.  Some of the classes are pretty large.  One day I had nearly 80 notebooks to grade,  It took me till 2 pm, though the kids got out at 12:30 pm.

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I have one request before I close this time.  Please be praying for the school.  Finances are really tight and many of the parents don’t make it a priority to pay the monthly tuition on time.  It would be nice if they did and then Jose and Lupe wouldn’t lose sleep over how to pay their loyal staff.  Thank you.

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