GUAYAQUIL (Reuters) – Camped on streets with sleeping bags and stocked with food supplies, thousands of excited Ecuadoreans congregated in the coastal city of Guayaquil yesterday for Pope Francis’ first mass of his ‘homecoming’ tour of South America.
On the first full day of his three-nation trip, the Argentine-born pontiff was heading south from Quito to Ecuador’s second city, a steamy port sometimes referred to as the world’s “banana capital,” given its bustling fruit trade.
“It’s going to be a very special day which I’ll share with those I love,” said Silvia Flores, a 43-year-old doctor waiting on the streets. “We’re all brothers in Christ.”
After the mass, Francis was due to go to a local Jesuit-run school to visit an old friend he has not seen in three decades, the cigar-smoking Rev Francisco Cortes.