Travel Journal

Galapagos

(Friday 20 May 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 268-9 5/2-3/11
I was running late at the airport because I wanted to get breakfast at the hostel which started serving at 7:30. I got there a little over an hour before my flight but the terminal is a bit chaotic. I was lucky there was an attendant at the self-check in to help me get a ticket since the instructions were all in Spanish. Next was the line for paying the tax and getting the form for Galapagos. Then I had to reenter the airport and go through the security x-ray for my checked baggage. Next was dropping my bag off at the LAN counter and then through standard security for the boarding gates. I made it with about ten minutes to spare but easily could have missed the flight.
The flight had a stop in Guayaquil before continuing on to the Galapagos Islands. I had to ask which airport we were going to find out on which island exactly we were going to land to figure out how to get to Puerto Ayora. LAN provided buses to the dock where you have to get a ferry to Santa Cruz which is just across the way. I’m not sure why the airport was built here perhaps to lessen the impact on Santa Cruz. Anyways, after the ferry is a bus ride of about forty-five minutes into the city. I sat next to a Swede named Henry who like me was looking to book a cruise from the port. I wasn’t sure how easily it was to find passage as a single traveler and we thought we’d might team up if the opportunity arose although he was looking for a shorter cruise whereas I wanted at least seven days.
In town I found a hotel with very basic facilities for $15 dollars and went out to check the travel agencies. Most offered five day trips and I took notes of the cost and the boats. Later I ran into Henry and he wanted a four day cruise which was way too short for me. I continued looking and found one agency that offered an eight day Thursday to Thursday cruise for $1000 which would be good for me as they would drop me off at the airport in time for my flight that day. I looked around a bit more but didn’t see anything else.
The next day I ran into Henry again, the tourist part of this town is not that big, and he had already booked a four day cruise which was fine as there are no problems getting single passage on ships which I feared might happen. I thought I might get a better deal later in the day so I went to the Charles Darwin Research Station just outside of town. I was going to buy some shirts there as gifts as the profits go to the Station but the prices were quite steep. They had a pen for the tortoises and a hatchling area for the babies which was nice but not much as far as exhibitions which I thought was a bit odd. They did have one building with a few displays and a video projector which wasn’t working but that was it. The open fish market next to the water had fishmongers gutting the fish while a crowd gathered for scraps.
After checking emails and finding out that dad’s condition was stable, I decided to stop back around noon at Moonrise Tours which had offered the eight day tour to get the particulars. I had checked on a few ships at the tourist office as the guidebook had suggested but the people there seemed shocked that I wanted to see if any complaints had been filed. I’m not really sure anybody does. Anyways, Moonrise said there wasn’t any space on the ship they had talked to me about the previous day, I’m not really sure there was originally as she had to call to found out. There was a ship leaving that afternoon for an eight day trip for $1500 and it was a first class ship (I believe the rankings are: economy, tourist, first class, luxury). She picked up the phone and dialed before I could tell here it was too much money. There was space available and at that point I offered a thousand and we settled on $1200 which was more than I would like to have paid but it seemed a good deal at the time.
They would only take cash and I had taken the max out already from the ATM that day so the rest of the day was a scramble as I dropped laundry to be cleaned as I had no fresh clothes, the bank for a cash advance on a credit card, and the store to pick up supplies (read booze) for the trip. I had already paid for the hotel for another night so I showered and checked out and went to the pickup spot at the new dock.
The boat was to pick me up at six and the agent assured me there would be no problem if I was there and they would find me. I checked with a few persons and indeed I was at the new dock but six o’clock came and past and I noticed there wasn’t anyone else on the dock with luggage. I then noticed a group heading out away from the dock with Beagle on their life vest which was my boat’s name. Hmmm, okay. I waited awhile longer and the boat returned announcing they were the Beagle and I got onboard along with a family of four. It seems the rest of the passengers had been picked up near the airport earlier in the day and they were part of a landing party here in town.
I made introductions when I got onboard to the other ten passengers and we sat down for dinner. Our guide, Daniel spoke English well which was a relief as I had told the travel agency that the guide was my number one priority. Two more persons would be joining us later that evening but I did not stay up for that. I went to my cabin and was happy to find that although it was a two berth cabin, I had it to myself. It was quite comfortable and clean and I fell asleep with no problems.

 


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