Sunday, 25 August 2013

A completely new land

Day 88 - 25 de Agosto: Quito, Ecuador to Isla Isabela, Galapagos

I really felt the lack of sleep this morning. In fact, my roommate had to wake me up when I didn't hear the first alarm. I had a bard time getting to sleep - maybe I was excited for the day ahead. At 5:30, everyone met down in the lobby to get our taxis for the airport. Our new leader, Olivia showed up to make this happen for us, as well as set us up with boxed breakfasts. I wasn't particularly fond of the soggy, ham sandwich that was in it, but I ate it none the less. At the airport, we first had to check in at a special galapagos desk to get our temporary residency cards. Although these islands are Ecuador's, it's like we were going to a different country. We also had a separate bag check just for organic products before actually checking in at the airline. Our flight path had us stop in Guayaquil (the Toronto of Ecuador) to pick up more people before continuing. It was nice though because i had a whole row to myself to sprawl out. We were mostly flying above cloud the whole way, so when we descended, it was like we were dropping down into a new world. The views from the plane were stunning, however where we landed might give you the wrong impression of Galapagos. The island of Baltra used to be a US military base. Unfortunately, by the time they left, the island was barren and polluted to hell. Although we landed in a wasteland, it still somehow seemed like a fascinating and interesting place. We went through the galapagos version of customs (pay the entrance fee and get a stamp in your passport). We then took a short bus to the coast, and a short ferry across the channel to Isla Santa Cruz. We continued our trek by getting in a taxi (all the taxis are pickup trucks here) and set off down a straight road that seemed to cut through the whole island. I was surprised though - the first climate seemed barren. The trees were without leaves and bushes were desertlike. It was almost like the landscape should be covered in snow, and without this it seemed weird. After a while of this, i nodded off for not more than two minutes and opened my eyes to a complete change - lush green forest all around us. We drove through small towns and continuous change in climate. We eventually made it to the coast and had lunch at a little restaurant. After this we lined up at the marina dock. There was a bag check at every dock where they would ziptie our bags shut when they passed the check. The line for this check took forever because the guy up front was bringing like 6 big suitcases with him. After getting through, it was time for the last leg - by boat. We got into this 30ish foot motorboat and took off into the pacific. I had taken a gravol before, but lucky me, it turned out to be the roughest weather the sailors had seen this year. I was on the outer deck for a bit, but as I slowly became sick, i found a spot inside the cabin where I could lie down. I put my head down awkwardly on a pile of lifejackets and rode it out for 2 and a half hours until we were finally at port. It was later afternoon now so we got in a taxi and headed straight for our hotel. It's a nice little place here. Comfy beds and sometimes the wifi works. I lay down for most of our down time before dinner. I was exhausted, but really hungry and anxious to settle my swaying stomach. We went to a steak place where i got a plate of three different meats. Prices are a lot more expensive here but it's nothing to worry about since they're still not as bad as back home. Also some interesting things to note - the stray dogs of ecuador have been replaced by land tortoises here and the showers and taps are fed with salt water! We did a night time city tour before finally falling asleep.

Galapagos from the air
Beautiful blue water
Barren nothing... lush green
The first of many little birds
The marina

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