Always sad leaving Colombia. There is something about that country that you just have to experience for yourself, but I was moving onto another favourite, Ecuador, but this time my entry, was not a smooth one!
Travellers Tip: Dont do what I did below!
Few days before, I had booked my flight to Ecuador to collaborate with all the lads and I selected a direct flight from Bogota, to Guayaquil, the biggest city in Ecuador. I remember last time, the Ecuador entry requirements were that they required, or at least wanted, some proof of onward travel, but last time having not provided any, I was still allowed to enter the country. Apparently they had tightened up the laws regarding that, and as I checked in for my flight, they asked for my flight leaving Ecuador. I had purchased a bus ticket, but since I wasn't sure if that was enough, I proceeded all the way to the payment portion of booking a ticket online, printed it off and had that just in case they asked. Sure enough, the bus ticket wasnt enough, and they asked for some sort of flight. After showing the unpurchased ticket they asked for the ticket number, of course not actually having one, I said I wasnt sure. They proceed to take me over to the airline desk to scan my passport! As you can imagine, nothing showed up and as the time to departure started to tick down, and more people were being brought into my situation, including immigration officers, I decided last minute that it was necessary to purchase some sort of onward travel ticket. I franticly checked prices on my tablet, and envisioned the most realistic dates and route of my travel in order to purchase a ticket I would hopefully use, that would satisfy the border guards. I opted for a ticket from Quito, to Lima in a few weeks times, showed the officials and boarded the plane with minutes to spare.
Arriving in Guayaquil, I checked into a small hostel just for a couple nights to check out the city and get a couple decent night´s sleep before the madness I know Montañita will hold.
Updated photo of the gym. They have added a lot of newer equipment
By good luck, on the first day I was walking around the area near the hostel looking to rent a scooter, and I heard a constant *thud* sound. I recognized it as a punching bag and as I walked around the corner and looked up I could see an open area about 4 stories at the top of a building, and although I couldn't see anything or anyone, I knew it was a boxing gym. As I climbed the stairs I could hear a pounding of metal along with the sounds of the bags being hit. As I hit that last stair I saw an open area with chipped, and dented bare weights with paint chipped off.
It was like something out of a Rocky movie and I was excited as these are my favourite type of place to get in a lift. I returned in the afternoon to get in a good sweat and had a terrific workout. Sometimes old equipment, or “machines” (if you can even call them that) forces you to adapt and work your muscles in different ways. Different angles, different grips, weights, and just exercises all together. Gyms are also a great place to connect with like minded people and meet interesting characters, like the owner of the gym. A big, tattooed gentleman whos name I do not recall was intimidating to look at but could not have had more deceiving looks. Such a nice guy who welcomed me, charged me a 2 dollars for the day, and told me his life story. Born and raised until about 9 in Guayaquil and other parts of Ecuador, he then left with his parents to go live in North Carolina in a rough area. After making a not so legitimate living in his mid 20s, he was “forced” to leave the country and fled back home to Ecuador, settling in Guayaquil. Like a lot of people he needed something to keep him out of trouble and that became boxing. After years of fighting semi-professionally in South America he set up this training center in Guayaquil and has set his life straight and said “I couldnt be happier with the life I am leading.” Was some really really nice words from a man who could have easily ended up in many much less desired places, not necessarily by his own will either.
From Morocco to Ecuador, one thing I love about "travel fitness" is the actual adventure of finding a gym in a foreign city when I have th real urge to lift some weights. You visit areas of the town you normally would not venture to, and you certainly meet some incredible people along the way.