Galloping to the Galapagos - Chapter Two

REALLY ON OUR WAY

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The next morning, at 4:45 a.m., I put on my game face to fly to the Galapagos Islands. At 5:30 a.m., Javier, (from Cacaoland Tours) our guide to everything airport, picked us up for the hour drive to the Quito Airport, or more accurately Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

Sacagawea Dollars

Author’s note: This is the new Mariscal Sucre International Airport. The old Mariscal Sucre International Airport was near downtown and is now a park. By the way, have you ever wondered what happened to the Sacagawea ‘golden’ dollars? Well they are living in Ecuador as active currency. Who’da thunk?

Before check-in to fly to Galapagos, you must pay a $20.00 fee. That process took so long no time was left for coffee (or breakfast) before boarding.

Author’s note: Deep Blue Travel booked our flights for us. M/Y Bonita Yacht wanted all their passengers to arrive together and wanted the flight information all in one place. Tom and I generally travel on the cheap, but Deep Blue booked us on the other side of the curtain in business class. I’m going on the record right now: I didn’t mind!

There was coffee and breakfast on the plane.

Wilo Our Nature Guide

After a stop in Guayaquil, we disembarked in Baltra to meet our guide, Wilo, from M/Y Bonita Yacht, our home for the next seven days. They welcome us onto the yacht with a glass of sweet tea, checked us into our cabins and viola lunch was ready.

Our first View of M/Y Bonita Yacht

Author’s note: We thought we were getting a cabin on the main deck. What we received was a cabin on the upper deck. That meant every time we needed the bathroom we had to climb the steep stairs to the upper level.

M/Y Bonita Yacht

We got acquainted with our ten ‘shipmates’ for the week - a couple from Canada retired to Ecuador, a couple from Germany, a couple from France (working in Guayaquil), and two couples from Spain.

Author’s note: We quickly noticed we were “mucho estupido” when it came to Spanish as the only travelers who did not have a working knowledge of the language.

Lunch set a standard for excellence with herbed fish and rice. Dessert: a tiny cream puff with vanilla custard filling. I could have eaten three.

Author’s note: The chef was protecting me from myself. Throughout the cruise the food was outstanding!

Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz

Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz was our first stop that afternoon. Santa Cruz Island is three quarters nature preserve and one quarter general population and home to our guide, Wilo. After lunch the zodiacs (described to us as dinghies) delivered us to a dry landing on Dragon Hill.

Author’s note: Since our passengers number twelve (plus Wilo, our guide), two people are usually in the second zodiac. Interestingly, it is not always the same two people and occasionally it is four people, or three people which really confuses everything.

We step onto a plethora of shells on the beach. Also there are crabs everywhere, but they move fast so that chasing them for a picture might cause you to miss other better stuff!

Author’s note: It is completely illegal to remove ANYTHING from one of the Galapagos Islands, even if it’s dead, even if there are a million of them. Illegal: end of conversation.

Immediately we begin meeting the animals of the Galapagos: Galapagos Marine Iguanas which not only swim, but are the only iguanas that do so, Galapagos Land Iguanas, Giant Heron, Flamingos, Finches and Kookaburra birds (not pictured).

Author’s note: I don’t think anyone is going to call the Galapagos Marine Iguana cute. Interesting, remarkable, but not cute. I won’t talk too much about the animals. I’ll let the pictures speak for them, but more on that later.

Bonita From Dragon Hill

Dragon Hill at Sunset
Dragon Hill

That evening in the bright moonlight, as Tom and I made our way down the steep steps to dinner, we saw a shark circling the yacht. A sea lion jumped out of the water onto the launch shelf right below us at the back of the yacht.

Author’s note: Neither Tom nor I was quick enough to get a good picture. The sea lion looked at us and then with a bark slid right back into the water.

Dinner is as good as lunch with an appetizer of potatoes with a mushroom velouté. I wished for more. The entree choice was chicken or fish with fries or yucca. I choose fish and yucca. The sauce made it fabulous. Dessert was a tiny apple puff pastry filled with custard with a ruffled apple hat.

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