This is the fruit of the guasmo tree, for which Guasmo - the marginalized urban sector that's been my home for the past 2.5 years - is named. Back in the 1970's, when Guasmo was a growing area, these trees were so abundant as to become the moniker for the entire vicinity that now houses over 500,000 people. 40-odd years later, I've never seen one of these trees in Guasmo itself, whose blocks are jammed with houses and whose streets are now (for the most part) paved. Back then, Guasmo was a backwater estuary community, unincorporated into the Guayaquil municipality and lacking in amenities. Now, it's a bustling developed area, and practically speaking is a city unto itself.
Today some of the girls I work with accompanied me to a part of Guasmo I am less familiar with. I'm always amazed at how different the atmosphere can be once you walk the length of a few blocks, the nearly palpable sensation of crossing the invisible barrier from one neighborhood into the next. Guasmo truly is a labyrinth, in the sense that with every twist and turn of the streets one must also sort out all senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.
Ironically, the guasmo tree is nowhere to be found in Guasmo. The one pictured here grows in the city cemetery, an hour away. The fruit are like spiny pods or nuts, and they smell tantalizingly of some kind of tangy berry; they would be a good ingredient to a mulled cider or wine. Inside are housed tiny seeds.
I may or may not have picked this guasmo fruit up off the ground and put it in my mouth.
It's all in the name of science, and being a rebel.