Manuel Rendon Seminario Mural

July 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Today is the 473rd anniversary of the founding of Guayaquil by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana. Today also marks the unveiling of a
mural by Manuel Rendon Seminario that has been stored in boxes for 30 years. Rendon is considered a Master Latin American Painter and credited for bringing
the Constructivist Movement to Latin America.

Rendon was born in Paris in 1894 to wealthy Ecuadorian Parents. While in Paris he studied art at the free Academy of the ‘Grand Chaumiere’. Yet he
resisted formal training and preferred a more bohemian solidary form of expression. Though he struggled financially his early works were seen in many
of the galleries of Paris including the Cafe de la Rotonde, whose curator Henry Maisse was a friend.

During World War I the art world in Paris was in chaos, Rendon and friends joined a young pro-Communist group supporting the Bolshevik revolution
in Russia and hoping something similar would come to France. Yet it was after the war when his life made a dramatic change. He traveled with his family to
Ecuador where he encountered a new and exotic world. Through the 1930’s he spent time painting the strife of the ingenious of Ecuador.

It was in the 1940’s that his definitive style took form with characteristic abstract shapes. Like his political views his art like that of the Constructivism Movement had a social agenda.

Rendon’s mural 20.4 meters long by 277 meters high is made up of thousands of pieces of glass that Rendon completed in Mexico in 1980 after having been commissioned for a mural by the Banco Central in Guayaquil 7 years earlier.

The mural had been packed away in boxes and forgotten in his studio and forgotten about after his death in 1982.  The work was discovered by friend, Jorge Swett in 1994 who has been working at restoring the work and seeking funding for its installation.  The mural has been installed on the exterior of the Simon Bolivar Cultural Center in Guayaquil.


Ecuador makes plans to avoid measels outbreak

July 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Measles is a disease we learned in school no longer exsited or at least was no longer a modern day threat due to childhood immunizations.  However in recent years many parents have opted against the vaccination due in part to a theory that ties the vaccine to the onset of autism.  The result of this decision has led to recent outbreaks of both the measles and German measels (rubella) in Europe and the U.S.

The government of Ecuador has launched a campaign to avoid the spread of the disease to their country.  They are requesting all travelers who are not already vaccinated to receive a vacination at least 15 days prior to their arrival.  Additionally tourist agents, hotel staff, airport and migration authorities in Ecuador are all being vaccinated as a preventative measure.  Travelers to Ecuador who have not received their shots can take advantage of health centers at the Quito and Guayaquil Airport where visitors can receive the immunizations free of charge.

Mansion del Rio Guayaquil

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mansion del Rio Guayaquil

When planning your trip to the Galapagos Islands travel requires that you typically need to spend at least one night before your Galapagos Cruise and one night after on the mainland of Ecuador in either Quito or Guayaquil.

Quito is located at 9,600 feet elevation in the Andes Region of Ecuador.  It is a beautiful city and a UNESCO world heritage site.  For those wanting to explore Ecuador and get a taste of the country – Quito is an excellent base for your exploration.  Quito, Cuenca, Otavalo and many destinations in the Andes Region have wonderful hotels with character, charm and the history of Ecuador.

Guayaquil by comparison is located in the coastal region.  It is a bustling port town full of commerce.  The coast of Ecuador was a favorite destination for pirates during the 18th century and as a result many of the original buildings were burned down or destroyed.  Hotels in Guayaquil until recently have been international  chain hotels that you can find in any city or hotels for local tourists lacking the services required to attract international guests.  This has changed with the introduction of the Mansion del Rio Guayaquil.

Mansion del Rio Guayaquil Salon

The Mansion del Rio is a boutique hotel located in Las Peñas section of Guayaquil.  Originally build and called Villa San Antonio, the hotel is located in in the northeast corner of the city centre; is the artistic centre of the city. Many of the area’s 400-year-old houses have been converted into art galleries and several notable artists have studios in the area.  It is within walking distance of the Malecon 2000, Cathedral, and Iguana Park – the most visited sites in Guayaquil.

Completely renovated the Mansion del Rio Guayaquil gives guests the sense of travelling in time to the early 20th century (1900) Guayaquil and offers a unique atmosphere of comfort and exquisite details not found anywhere else.   The Mansion del Rio Guayaquil boasts guaranteed exceptional and customized service and accommodation that is full of grand old style luxury.  All rooms include fresh roses, a breakfast buffet, morning paper and afternoon tea.

Fly to the Galapagos For Free – Courtesy of Lan

June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

LAN airlines is starting service to the Galapagos Islands beginning September 16, 2010.  As part of their special promotion if you purchase a round trip ticket between the US and Guayaquil before July 21st they will give you a free round trip ticket to the Galapagos.  Offer is valid for travel commencing after September 16th.  Flights from Miami start at $499 round trip plus tax and New York from $595 round trip plus tax coach and from in $1168 business.

This is a great way to save extra on your fall 2010 Galapagos Travel plans!

Getting to the Galapagos Islands – planning your Galapagos Island Trip

May 5, 2010 § 1 Comment

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked from people wanting to go to the Galapagos is how do I get there?

You will begin your trip by flying to Ecuador – either Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE). Quito is located in the Andes Mountains at 9,600 feet elevation. The capital of Ecuador, Quito is a beautiful city surrounded by high peaks and was named a UNESCO world heritage site due to the historic old city – the best-preserved Colonial City in all of Latin America. Guayaquil is located right about sea level, it is a busy coastal city located along the Guayas River.

If you are arriving from North America, most of the flights arrive at night. No matter where you are arriving from chances are you will need to spend at least one night in either city prior to boarding your cruise or flying to the islands to start your tour or hotel stay.

The first day of your cruise, you will fly out to the islands where you will board your boat. If you are starting a tour or a hotel stay you will also fly to the Galapagos to begin your trip.

There are two airports in Galapagos one in Baltra – which services cruises starting in Baltra or in Puerto Ayora as well as people staying in either Santa Cruz or Isabela. The other airport is on San Cristobal servicing cruises beginning in San Cristobal or people staying on San Cristobal. You will want to arrange your flights out to the islands either as part of your cruise or with someone who knows your itinerary to insure you are flying into the correct island. (If you wind up on the wrong island, there are speedboats once a day that can take you to the other island; the trip is about 2 hours each way.)

If you are boarding a cruise in Baltra, your guide will be waiting at the airport for you. You will board a bus to the main dock and a small boat will take you over to board your boat and begin your cruise.

If you are staying in Puerto Ayora, traveling to Isabela or boarding a boat in Isabela you will take a different bus to the Canal where you will board a boat that will take you across to Santa Cruz. Once on Santa Cruz you will board either another bus or take a taxi to your Puerto Ayora it’s approximately a 45-minute drive from one side of the island to the other.

If you are boarding a boat in San Cristobal, again your guide will be waiting for you at the airport. You’ll take a bus down to the main dock and a small boat will take you to your boat to begin your cruise. If you are staying on San Cristobal or taking a tour beginning in San Cristobal, you’ll either take a taxi to your hotel or you can walk to some hotels as the airport is just on the outskirts of town.

Returning from the Galapagos is somewhat the same thing – you’ll need to get back to the airport by the same means of transportation that people leave the airport and fly back to the mainland. The flights depart the islands in the late morning arriving on the continent mid to late afternoon meaning that most people will have an overnight on the way out just like they did on the way to the islands.

Our top 10 tips for Getting to the Galapagos Islands

1. You’ll need to fly to the Galapagos – Unless you are traveling on your own personal boat, the only way to get to the Galapagos is to fly. There are no boats offering service between the continent and the islands.
2. There are set airfares to the Galapagos – The government sets all the airfares, foreigners pay a specified rate and there are no advanced purchase discounts.
3. Make a reservation in advance – The flights are frequently full so you will need to make a reservation in advance.
4. Most people need to stay in either Quito or Guayaquil 1 night before and 1 night after their trip to the Galapagos
5. You need a Permit to enter Galapagos – you do need to get permits to enter the park, most cruises and tour operators will arrange these permits for you, but it is possible to do them at the airport.
6. Double check your itinerary – make sure your reservations are flying to the island where you need to go.
7. Pack Smart – there are 20km weight limits on the flight for check-in luggage. If you are over this weight the airline may allow you to take extra luggage the same day you fly or may make you ship it and it will arrive in the future either way you will have to pay the extra cost.
8. The airlines assign seats at the airport
9. All of the flights are coach – there is no first class
10. Make sure to arrive at the airport early – if you miss your flight you, you may not be able to get another flight until the next day or several days later.

Learn more about Flights to the Galapagos and getting to the Galapagos Islands

Travel Guide – The Best of Guayaquil

April 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Traveling to Latin America each country has it’s own gateway or point of entry from where you begin your trip – for Peru you fly into Lima, Argentina it’s Buenos Aires, in Costa Rica it’s San Jose in Ecuador you have your choice of either Quito or Guayaquil.  

Having the option of two cities in which to arrive normally brings out the question of which city to arrive.  Quito, a beautiful city located high in the Andes is a UNESCO world heritage site, rich in culture and history.  Quito’s cobblestone streets of the old city, plazas and surrounding gilded churches make it the best preserved colonial city in Latin America, it’s easy to spend a day or two exploring the old city and getting lost in time.  However it is located at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet elevation making it less desirable for older travelers or those who suffer from heart or altitude problems.

Guayaquil by contrast is a bustling, coastal city much of its colonial history has been swept away in the many pirate attacks and fires that make up the cities colorful history.  However, in the last decade Guayaquil has undergone a metamorphosis changing it’s overall flavor from a dirty and dangerous port city to a modern city with new hotels, shopping centers, and new airport all waiting to invite foreign tourists and investors.  

Spending an extra day in Guayaquil, people want to do the “tour of Guayaquil” expecting like many Latin American countries a well defined tour of historic buildings and churches.  However in Guayaquil the best outing combines the historic Las Peñas neighborhood, the Malecon 2000 and surrounding area with a cruise on Guayas River.

Built on Santa Ana Hill Las Peñas is a colonial neighborhood, which has been built and rebuilt several times.  This brightly painted neighborhood has been home to many of Ecuador’s historic figures including presidents and poets alike. Today many of the houses have been converted to a number of small restaurants, bars, and boutiques, all which can be reached by climbing a series of steps traveling up the hillside.  Near the top you can visit the Fortín del Cerro (‘Fort of the Hill’), cannons from the fort were used to protect the city from pirates or reaching the top the lighthouse offers a phenomenal 360-degree view of the river and Guayaquil.

Lying at the base of Las Peñas in complete contrast is the Malecon 2000.  A restoration project of the Simon Bolivar Pier, the Malecon 2000 is modern in design and a popular destination for both locals and international travelers.  This 1.5 mile walk (for pedestrians only) along the Guayas River offers a variety of shopping and dinning experiences mixed together with family friendly activities including remote control boats, playgrounds, exercise areas. 

The botanical garden is home to over 320 plant species from the coast, 70 bird species and 60 butterfly species.  The flowering plants mixed with the bromeliads make this a peaceful rest stop.   The Malecon is home to Ecuador’s only IMAX theatre, and a series of Museums, statues and monuments that include the the Moorish Clock Tower, Olmedo monument and the Rotunda depicting the famous meeting between the two great liberators San Martin and Bolivar who met in Guayaquil in 1822 to discuss South America’s freedom from Spain, the Museum of Anthropology and Contemporary Art, Municipal Museum and Museo Nahim Iscias.  The Museo Nahim Iscias houses articles artifacts including gold jewelry, jugs, pottery and colonial art dating back to 4200 BC

If you continue to the end of the Malecon 2000 you will reach the Mercado Sur (the large ornate iron building was designed by Gustave Eiffel) and the artisan market with handicrafts from all over the country.

Just across the street near the middle of the Malecon you’ll find the ornate grey Palacio Municipal and just beyond the Parque Bolivar known locally as “iguana park” for the many green iguanas that can be seen in trees, on benches, in the grass and just about everywhere in the park.  Flanking Bolivar Park is the restored Cathedral, which reflects both the colonial and ethnic influences of the country.

 With all this history and shopping around my favorite activity in Guayaquil departs from Malecon 2000.  Named for a character from Guayaquil’s past the Captain Morgan departs from the middle of the Malecon and takes guests on an hour long cruise along the Guayas River in a “pirate boat”. The cruise provides the traditional view, how visitors have first seen Guayaquil for centuries via the Guayas River.  The views from the river pass the Malecon, Las Peñas and Santa Ana continuing up the river you may pass fishermen in long thin boats while heads of river lettuce bobbing along in the current.  Cruising past the neighboring towns you can catch a glimpse of life outside the big city.  If you plan your trip for 6pm you can watch as day gives way to night and the lights of the city guide your way back.  The Captain Morgan plays music along the way and offers drinks and snacks– at late night atmosphere changes becoming a more festive party cruise.

Guayaquil’s restoration efforts are impressive and the overall change in the city of the last decade has created a lovely and welcoming city worthy of spending an extra day exploring the mix of traditional and modern that give Guayaquil a flavor of its own.

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