A change in the flight time from Baltra meant that we had little time in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s biggest city. (Pronounced ‘wa-ka-quil’ but sometimes squeezed into a single syllable.)

Just one night at the palatial Grand Hotel. Wandered a little after dark. FCO advice for Ecuador is especially cagey about Guayaquil. The guidebooks say that it’s no longer dangerous but I’ve never seen so many fast food restaurants with armed guards. (Except perhaps that goat soup restaurant in Mexico City with the machine guns…)

Iguana Square was hosting a social event complete with police band and their euphoniums (so that’s fewer police on the streets tonight). But we found a nice and cheap restaurant that did a perfect ceviche, so much better than those on the Galapagos.

In the light of the next morning the land iguanas were out in the square. God knows how and where they spent the night. These large lizards were sitting in the Virgin Mary grotto, under the Simon Bolivar statue, on top of the box hedges, under the benches and on the grass.

Land isguanas in central Guayaquil

We walked up the Malacon waterside walk (essentially a raised walk to conceal a massive car park) to the anthropology museum. A fine collection of old pots, some impressive but no English labels.

Just time catch a taxi to the bus station and buy a ticket to Cuenca.  The bus trip to Cuenca is extraordinary. Starting at sea level it climbs to over 4,100m before coming down to 2,500 in just 4 hours. Just  an hour and a half from the Pacific we hit the continental watershed. Every drop of rain east of here will travel the width of Brazil and emerge in the Amazon basin.

Through the clouds

There were some dramatic views up here. We emerged above the clouds and among the llamas.

Checked into the Hotel de los Balcones in Cuenca.

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