Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Galapagos III of III

Up at 5 am, we were standing at the front gate of our Hotel by 5:30 listening to the cacophony of roosters crowing, waiting for the funny bus to pick us up and take us to the pier for our boat trip back to Santa Cruz. The boat was supposed to leave at 6 o´clock but we didn´t board until 6:30. A lady waiting with the rest of us (about 40 people going on 2 different boats) complained bitterly about the delay, speaking loudly to anyone who would listen. Ultimately she gave the man checking people´s names off on a list, a very hard time and insisted she not be seated near the back of the boat. In any case, off we roared at 6:30. The trip is supposed to take approximatley 2 hours. At 7:30, out in the middle of the ocean, in pretty big swells, the boat stopped.

Although the Captain and his first mate never did give any explanation for the stoppage we finally determined that we were out of gas. There we were, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, floundering in the waves, out of gas (can you believe that?). They phoned to a buddy and we waited for just over 2 hours for the gas to get to us. Several people were sea sick. Please remember Shelley & Brian lived on a boat for 13 years. Never during that time did either one of us get sick. Out on the ocean, rolling in the swells, listening to the crabby lady complain "This is not acceptable!" Shelley succumbed and threw up about 4 times. Having had enough of the crabby lady and not feeling that great herself, Shelley yelled at her to stop yelling. The crabby lady advised her she was not talking to Shelley. Shelley told her she didn´t care, that she was tired of listening to a stranger yelling about something, when nothing could be done except wait. Several other people joined in with Shelley. Quelled, the crabby lady retreated into silence except for the odd, under the breath, muttering from time to time.

Throughout this ordeal, the Captain and his crew member retreated to the top of the boat and remained incommunicado throughout the incident. Other than the crabby lady, most of the people on the boat were magnificent; keeping up a good humour in a difficult situation. Brian hummed a few bars of the "Gillian's Island" theme but the rest of the passengers were too young to recognize it. Loyally though, Shelley laughed. Brian loves Shelley!

On the boat we did, however, meet yet another young woman from Canada; this time from Victoria, B.C. We introduced her to the Canadian woman from Vancouver and they decided to share a room when we got to Santa Cruz. They were both absolutely wonderful young people and we really enjoyed meeting them.

By 9:40 the rescue boat had arrived and refueled our boat. Soon as the boat got going again, Shelley´s sea sickness disappeared. Please note: she was not the only one to get sick - about 7 out of the 21 on our boat had to request a bag.

We arrived in Santa Cruz at 11:20. At the dock we were told we could make a "claim" for damages. We demurred figuring we were leaving in 2 days and nothing would ever come of the "claim". However, several of the passengers had missed their flights and had to pay for extra accommodation and no end of inconvenience. Throughout our stay on Santa Cruz, from time to time, we'd think of the crabby lady and wonder how she was doing. We assumed she continued to be crabby.

We arrived in Santa Cruz and having not eaten since the day before, booked into our Hotel (Suites of Wild Dreams) and headed out to find a burger. The Suites of Wild Dreams is so new it doesn´t even have a sign out front yet. In spite of the name, and Brian´s expectations that we would have mirrors on the ceilings and porn channels, it actually is very nice and in a quiet location so we weren't at all bothered by all of the activity taking place downtown at night. Ironically, the Suites of Wild Dreams only has twin beds. We pushed our beds together and held hands across the gap.

Walking into town we stopped at the first place that advertised burgers. We ordered 2 cervezas and found out that the last burgers were now on the grill and they didn´t serve pizza (which we´d thought might be good too) until 6 pm. We settled for a tomato, ham & cheese sandwich which in the end delighted us (!) because they were grilled and absolutely wonderful; very reminiscent of a panini back in Vancouver.

Santa Cruz, unlike Isabela, has lots of tourist shops lining the main road next to the ocean. These shops are not full of junk; a lot of them have high-end Ecuadorian crafts. You can also find several fine art stores in the area which is called Pelican Bay. Pelican Bay actually does have pelicans. We saw several at a stand on the water where local fishermen were cleaning the day's catch. On display were some absolutely huge lobsters. Brian swore that he was going to really splurge & have lobster for supper. We set out to buy presents and wandered the town looking into all the wonderful shops. For dinner Brian ended up having a seafood extravaganza made up of lobster, prawns, scallops, fish & calamari.

Tuesday morning arrived and since the Suites of Wild Dreams didn't provide any meals we set out in search of breakfast. Brian ended up having what he says is the "best breakfast I've ever had in Ecuador" with sunny side eggs on top of shredded hash browns & bacon.

It had been recommended to us that we must see the Bahia Tortuga Playa which is a stunning white sand beach a cab ride & a 45 minutes walk away from the town. The walk was down a wonderful Wizard of Oz bricked path the whole 2.5 k. Lining the path were the ubiquitous Halloween trees, white with no leaves, huge specimens of the flat leaved cactus plants and underbrush. Arriving at the beach there was only a scattering of people. There are apparently 2 beaches, one which has a vicious undertow and one where it's safe to swim. We wandered to what we thought was the second beach and Brian took a spin in the surf. Along came the Beach Police and sternly told Brian exactly where the second beach was. Since we'd had enough of the sun and surf we skipped our way back the 2.5 k, had a cervaza in town and then headed to the Suites of Wild Dreams for a well deserved nap.

That evening we had hamburgers at the place we'd tried before. They were wonderful!

Up at 6:30 am, we caught a cab to the Terminal ($1) and then a bus to Canal De Itabaca ($1.80/45 minute bus ride) and then a ferry ($0.80 this time) to Baltra. We arrived at the airport terminal with time enough to have a coffee (Nescafe) and an omelet. There were 3 different kinds of finches in the open air restaurant, sitting on the backs of chairs and flying around, waiting for people to leave so they could steal the left overs from their plates. Darwin's adaptations at work!

Arriving in Guayaquil with 4 hours until our flight to Cuenca, we took a cab to the Mall del Sol ($3) and looked around for clothes big enough for Brian. We managed to get him 3 pairs of pants and he was very pleased with our purchases. Shelley also picked up a red pair of Dorothy shoes that she couldn't resist for half price. There is no McDonald's in Cuenca, so we also had a burger at the McDonald's in the Mall. It was wonderful (!) but strange in that we'd rarely eat at McDonald's back in Vancouver.

Our flight back to Cuenca took 22 minutes this time.

Overall Impressions of the Galapagos
It's beautiful and you really get the sense of Darwin & history & the importance of it being preserved. It's hot but not unbearably so; bring sunscreen. Insects are at a minimum and the locals are very friendly. There is a very high proportion of people you encounter who speak pretty good English. There is definitely too much to see in just 5 days but it is possible to see sea lions, penguins, blue footed boobies, seals, sea turtles, giant tortoises, frigate birds, multiple finches, land iguanas, pelicans, marine iguanas and half a dozen varieties of wading birds not to mention flamingos. We were amazed at the number of iguanas, literally thousands of them and they are everywhere. Things we thought about doing but didn't get around to were visiting the lava tunnels (apparently you can walk inside of them), going to a place called the Wall of Tears & swimming in the lagoon just a couple of blocks from town on Santa Cruz.

As is the case just about everywhere in Ecuador bring lots of $1 and $5 bills.

You can see more of our Galapagos pictures on our FaceBook page here.

PS:- Fredi did go out of her skin when Brian picked her up from our friends' place.

1 comment:

  1. I stayed at Suite of Wild Dreams. So cool. Glad to hear it's still there.