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Galloping to the Galapogos – The Last Chapter

Tom on the Humboldt Explorer

Monday, December 7 through December 13, 2020

At 1:45 Tom joined new shipmates for his seven day Galapagos scuba adventure, including his roommate from Romania, Cristian (who now lives in England). This group was multi-national: several Americans (though not necessarily American born), three Spaniards and an Italian (now living in USA) and a common language of English. It was fun group of very experienced divers. After check-out dives they headed to Wolf Island and some of the most challenging diving Tom has faced.

The long view of Wolf Island is stark. Close up that impression doesn’t change much. During the first briefing the group was asked. “How many hammerhead sharks would you like to see?” The answers ranged from two to one hundred. They saw thousands: rivers of hammerheads.

Hammerhead sharks
Hammerhead shark

Liveaboards are not for the faint of heart. Here is a typical diving day:

At a seventy foot depth there was strong surge and strong current. In other parts of the world there is one or the other and sometimes neither. This made every dive challenging and the underwater photography almost impossible, but there were tons of critters!

Eagle rays are one of Tom's favorites. He's caught glimpses in other locations but this time he was able to get close!

Juvenile Red-Footed Boobies (so young their feet had not turned red) liked to hang out on the yacht railing.

One afternoon, a sea lion entertained all the divers with its antics. It pulled hair, nipped at arms and hoses and stole Tom’s scap (the hat he wears while diving). He didn’t mind. The interaction was priceless – and he got his scap back in the end.

There isn’t a lot of coral in the Galapagos, but what is there is healthy and beautiful!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Tom arrived in Quito in the late afternoon. Since I enjoyed my meal at Hacienda de Los Arrieros, we walked there for dinner. We caught a cab back to the Hilton. I got into the cab with my phone in my hand. I got out of the cab with the payment for the cabdriver. Although I realized almost immediately I didn’t have my phone, it was gone.

Author’s note: I lay this at the door of altitude sickness. My brain just didn’t function well in Quito.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

For our last day in Quito, Javier delivered us to Las Termas de Papallacta, the mineral hot springs south of the city.

Through the clouds, we caught glimpses of the snow covered volcano in the distance but the day was pleasant and warm; very unusual according to Javier. We soaked in first one pool, and then another warmer pool, and then a final warmer pool until it felt as though our bones were melting. Then we each had massages.

Author’s note: I noticed this plant. I know it as Hens and Chickens but I’ve never seen it as an ornamental bush. I can only assume it grows this way in Ecuador because it doesn’t freeze.

We had local trout for lunch at the spa

And one final hot chocolate.....

It was a great way to end our time in Quito.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The next morning at o’dark thirty (perhaps better known as 3:00 a.m.), Javier picked us up for airport delivery.

Author’s note: The trip home was uneventful until we discovered our connection from Miami left from gate 60. Ten different gates were crowded into the space allotted to two gates on the upper floors. We were packed in like cattle. It was the only time I felt vulnerable to Covid.

In hindsight Tom and I agreed we were glad we pushed through and made the trip despite the many challenges. Once home, with the trip behind us, we answered the question, “When do you decide a trip is ill-fated?”



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