Guayaquil, Ecuador

January 30, 2023

First of all, I want to let my readers know about something special that is happening in our family.  Here is a comment from our son, Adam Epstein.

Boston bound!

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to run the 2023 Boston Marathon and support Cradles to Crayons! This year’s marathon is the day before my birthday, and it will my 41st marathon. Toward my goal of running a marathon in every state, Massachusetts will be #38.Thank you for your support!

I would love it if you might consider sponsoring him in the marathon – since we won’t be there for his 40th birthday.  It is a worthwhile organization that is committed to ending clothing insecurity for children in Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

If you are inclined to sponsor him, here is the link:

Now on to our day in Guayaquil.  Here is some of what we saw during the sail in. It is an estuary and it reminded us of some of the areas in the Amazon River. It is the gateway to the Galapagos and 30 passengers took a two day excursion there. We have spent a week there before.


We were greeted by some people in local costumes and some law enforcement officers with a puppet dressed like them!


We did a tour called The Cacao Route. We were a small group of 15 and traveled in a smaller bus than usual. Our driver was Victor and our guide (who was delightful) was Juan.


The trip to the Hacienda El Castillo took about an hour and Juan said he was doing a “podcast” – he gave us lots of information about Ecuador and about the area of Guayaquil.

The elections that I mentioned yesterday are for the regional mayors and representatives.  We think we have complicated politics in the US – here in Ecuador they have 25 political parties so there are MANY candidates.

The main contributors to the country’s GDP are first, oil, second, shrimp, third, fish and fourth, tourism. It is the biggest commercial port in the country. The minimum wage here is $450/month.

Juan is an ecologist with a masters degree so he is quite knowledgeable about nature, plants, birds and animals.

The Hacienda is a working cacao plantation which has 35 employees.  They all live at the 70 year old house on the property.


We had a Spanish speaking guide, John, and Juan did the translation.

We were welcomed with cacao juice which looked like lemonade and was naturally sweet, there was rum to add to it.  We couldn’t figure out how to make cacao juice because we only associate it with chocolate.  Later in this post you will see how they make it.  We also had some delicious patacones and bolon – fried plantain in a patty with a mashed cheese on top.


Then we did a walk through the plantation.  John carried his machete and showed us the cacao and plants at different degrees of ripeness. The bean is covered with a sweet white coating which is what they make the juice from!  Who knew? He showed us how they graft the plants to shorten the growing cycle.  We saw an iguana, many birds and termite nests in the trees.


We also saw the drying area, where the beans are spread out and are raked once a day.  Depending on the weather it can take from 3 days to  more than a week to dry.  We saw the grinding and got to taste 100% cacao – very bitter!


After seeing the plantation and the operations, we returned to the Hacienda for lunch. The salad was delicious, and the main entree was a chicken dish with rice and plantains.  It had a wonderful sauce – I gave my chicken to Norm and ate the rest, and then they brought me a whole new plate with the rice, plantains and a vegetable omelet, since I don’t eat meat!  I was fine with the salad, rice and sauce.


We also had choices of local beer and three different local fresh fruit juices.IMG_2213~photoIMG_2212~photo

For dessert, it was a small piece of pound cake and fruit with an amazing chocolate sauce to pour over it all.


We had coffee or expresso and then got to taste three kinds of chocolate they make here and also a fabulous hot chocolate (Norm said it was the best he ever tasted!)


I bought the two large (1 kg) – 2.2 pound bars of chocolate – the 70% and the 55%.  Each was just $10!! They should last us a while.


It was a truly wonderful and educational day. We do have a group picture but it is on another passenger’s phone, so when I get it, I will post it.IMG_2220~photo

We are in port tonight and there will be a deck party.  I have another tour tomorrow and Norm will decide how to spend his day – he will take the bus into town.

This entry was posted in Excursions, Food, January, South America, World Cruise #4. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Guayaquil, Ecuador

  1. Jan says:

    Chocolate! sounds like a great day to me 🙂


  2. epsteada says:

    Thank you everyone for your support! —Adam


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