I’ll spare you the drama of what it took to get down here. It was not what you see on United Airlines commercials. Still, we managed to land in Guayaquil last night around 11:00, got through immigration and customs by 12:30, found a hotel kiosk with a yellow house phone, grabbed a taxi, and landed in a very clean little hotel in a very dirty part of town by 1:00 a.m.
Then, of course, we decided we were hungry. So the kid at the front desk called us another “taxi” that seemed more like a “brother-in-law with a car” to take us to a delicious restaurant that was still open. When we got a about a mile down the road, the “taxi driver” asked if we wanted pollo or sandwiches. Since pollo was one of my 25 words, I was filled with confidence.
Then he pulled over to the side of a dark road where five or six men were sitting around on plastic chairs next to a big warming oven full of chicken. At 2 a.m. We got out and surveyed the situation. It seemed that pollo wasn’t just a menu item, it was the menu.
There was an uncomfortable pause, as the night-pollo salesmen just looked at us, unable to explain what we were unable to ask. It didn’t know how to say things like “Does the pollo come with other stuff?” or “Do you chop up the pollo?” or “Can we get our pollo to go, since we’re only guessing the ‘taxi driver’ said he’d wait for us while we ate?”
Instead, I finally just blurted out the hybrid, “Bring us pollo, por favor!”
We sat down at a plastic table and two minutes later, a massive platter of chicken was placed between us. We had our work cut out for us. Luckily, it was some pretty damn good pollo, so our initial concern about wasting most of it went away with the first few bites.
Minutes later, a large plate of fried plantains appeared out of nowhere. This gave me hope that perhaps there was more to these pollo men than we knew.
“Cerveza?” I asked a guy.
“No, senior,” came the reply.
“You can’t blame a guy for trying,” I would have said, if I’d known the words.
The pollo tally came to $13. The round-trip “taxi” ride was another $10.
So far, everyone is as polite and helpful as the language barrier allows. Still, we’re ready to find a bus to Playas. I’m sure there are pretty parts of Guayaquil, but this isn’t one of them.