I can’t remember when it was, exactly, that I started to dream of going to the Galapagos Islands. It might have been during my undergrad, when I learned about Darwin’s journeys and the spark that started his theory of evolution, or before that when I discovered certain animals exist here, and only here.
And just like that, all of a sudden, here I am. It’s sort of surreal.
The plane trip from Quito was pretty uneventful, but out of nowhere the flight crew opens all the overhead bins and sprays them with a mysterious substance. They say its for the protection of the islands … but … humans aren’t sprayed, our checked luggage isn’t sprayed, and it seems really random …
Anyway, I arrived at 9:30am to a full airport that just places your bag on a table one by one, instead of on a baggage carousel. It’s HOT and I’ve packed way too much stuff. I’ve also learned not to expect quickness in Ecuador – everyone takes their time, even the internet is lazy.
I’m greeted by Paul from CarpeDM and his Dad; they just finished a 4 day boat cruise. They came all the way to the airport to pick me up, and on our way back to Santa Cruz, we decide to split the cost of a hostel. I’m pretty grateful, considering I hadn’t booked anything and was a bit stressed about where I’d be sleeping.
We settle in and I choose to rest while Paul and his Dad go shopping. The view from my bed is amazing.
I’m abruptly awoken from my nap by a loud sea lion. When I go outside, there are iguanas on the balcony, bright red crabs on black lava rocks, and sea lions relaxing on the docks nearby. I’m so happy right now.
After showering (which didn’t really make a difference, because it was so humid), I’m invited to join Paul as he meets his friend Jennifer for a local BBQ. Jennifer is originally from Calgary, and now lives in the Galapagos and books diving expeditions for the Humbolt yacht. Her husband Jorge is Ecuadorian, and is an open water diving instructor. They work from home, but word of mouth is strong for these two because they are kept busy all year long. She even teaches Zumba classes every night to 70-100 local Galapagoians!
I received a warm greeting, and in the taxi to the BBQ Jenn tells me I’m in for a truly local, Galapagoian BBQ treat (something many tourists don’t get to see). We pull up in the highlands to a covered seating area, and the smell of simmering meat fills the air.
It was the best meat I’ve had in a while, in one of the coolest places. It was raining, I was surrounded by dogs and cats and chickens and goats, and soaked in all the local stories Jenn and Paul shared with me.
To wrap the day, on the way back to town we pass a guy on a scooter bringing some fish home. Paul precariously hangs himself out of the window to take a photo for me – priceless!
This Galapagos trip is off to a good start, can’t wait for the cruise!