We left the downtown Quito hotel for the last time, so early that by the time they got the coffee brewed it was too to hot to drink before we left. We were sorry to say good-by to our guide Celso, but we will see him again once we return from the Galapagos. Our new guide Sylvia helped us with the beaurcracy of entering a chain of islands that is also a national park. Our suitcases were scrutinized for plants, seeds, etc. that could contaminate the ecosystem of the islands that they are trying so hard to maintain in their original state. We had a special form to submit saying that we had not been on a farm or planned to camp on the islands. Sylvia also paid the $100/pp entrance fee, which has not changed since we were here in the early 2000’s.
Getting to the boat was also a bit of a challenge. We landed on an airstrip that used to belong to the US military and took a fifteen minute bus ride to a canal. We climbed inside a boat and the luggage traveled on the roof. Then we transferred to another bus which eventually brought us to the boat where we will spend the next week island hopping. The sea here is a bright aquamarine that we associate with the color of the water in the Caribbean.
Along the way we made some lengthy stops waiting for the famous Galapagos turtles to move after they had parked themselves in the middle of the road. Eventually, some of us got out of the bus and helped Sylvia move one behemoth aside or we might still be sitting there. We had lunch at a farm where many of the creatures live, mowing down the vegetation and luxuriating in the pond. These impressive animals reach sexual maturity at age 35 and continue to grow bigger and bigger for well over 100 years. Sailors used to stop here and capture the turtles alive and keep them on the deck of their ships until they needed sone fresh meat. This diminished their numbers greatly, but today they are rebounding.
Before the evening sail away we wandered around Puerto Ayora, which featured the usual tourist fare at prices made more outrageous because we are so far from the mainland here. A heated 3-man volleyball was going on in the main square. The winners would get $300 so passions ran high.
Dinner was a mixture; the buffet was self-service, but the soup and dessert were served. Our cabin is small and could use a closet and/or hooks. It has the fundamentals, but no turn down service or towel animals on the bed. It’s a good room to live out of. The lounge nearby has big windows and there is a sun deck up top for watching the scenery go by.