“So… what should I be doing downtown? I don’t drink,” I asked the women at the bus station.
“There’s the beach of course and also the central square, or there’s the Iguana Park if you’re weird.”
That piqued my interest so I put it in my mental Rolodex. It was dark by the time I got downtown so most of the parks and businesses nearby were already closed. I found a fascinating park with an odd pattern of fenced off grass and walkways, so I jumped the short fence. It was a unique design but the area was too dark to see the well. I spent another ten minutes in the park then explored downtown a bit and turned in early. I was exhausted from the bus trip from Mocoa, Colombia to the Colombia-Ecuador, from the border to a small town to catch another bus, and from that town finally to Guayaquil. I had spent the entire day either standing in a line or sitting on a bus.
After walking along the boardwalk the next morning I set out for the park. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but I felt obligated to go after what the woman at the bus station said. When I arrived, I noticed that it was the same park I had wandered into the night before, only now it had roughly the population of South America inside.
When I finally nudged my way into the park, there were iguanas everywhere. Giant iguanas. It was weird, and awesome, and a great surprise. Children wandered in the grass where the iguanas were supposed to be; iguanas roamed the paths where the children were supposed to be.
With the name “Iguana Park” you might expect just that, but Rocket Park in my hometown didn’t have a functional space rocket and I wouldn’t expect Revolution Square to be hosting daily revolutions either.
Iguanas have been known to attack man, although the fact is that fewer people have been killed by iguanas than in all of World War I and World War II combined.
The park was much more than just iguanas. It also had a large fish pond for koi and tortoises, plus a harem of stray cats and pigeons who were there to eat whatever food the iguanas were slow to grab. Where the iguanas and tortoises go at night will remain one of the great mysteries of our time.