Smiles, relief, excitement…I had just booked flights to the Galapagos! After getting an entire trip cancelled last fall due to the pandemic, I was happy to be able to try travelling again. I chose this destination because it allowed 3 days for a CPR test into Ecuador and 4 days into the Galapagos. This gave me time to get my results back before jet setting. You also need a Slavaconducto form from your first hotel or tour company. I was able to get the form from my hotel one week prior to the trip. The CPR test came in the night before I left…THAT was STRESSFUL.
The morning of my trip, Wes drove us to Atlanta Airport and the traffic was terrible…if you see him while I am gone, give him a thumbs up from me because of course he had to navigate that same lovely traffic back again…I think he was on the road for a total of 7.5 hours. On the other hand, Fierce and I had our passports ready and were in line for the international flights. We showed our negative Covid test results and checked in our baggage which was loaded with all of our must have trip items. I kept is short and sweet, but packed a life vest for Fierce, wet suits and snorkel gear for both of us, water shoes, dry towels and bags, sun hats, etc.
With security behind us, Fierce thought it was pretty cool that we had to ride a train to get to our concourse. I had him stop at every intersection and read the signs to find our gate. When we arrived he said, “That was a tough maze!” We waited a while and then were off on our 5.5 hour flight to Quito, Ecuador. Oh, I should mention that you have to wear a N95 mask from start to finish and can only take it off to eat or drink and they remind you regularly that if they have to speak with you a few times, you will be giving a hefty fine from the federal government. It wasn’t that bad though and we wore ours for almost two days. I was glad I brought a whole pack of them.
Up next was a 10 hour layover. Doesn’t sound so bad on paper, but I was exhausted. We had to go through customs, show our covid tests, turn in a form claiming you are healthy and get our luggage so that shaved off an hour. We walked around the small lobby with two restaurants that were closed, one open cafe and two stores. We parked at the cafe. I got a latte and Fierce ate a donut and then we still had 8 hours to go…I started looking for hotels, but of course even if they had a 24 hour reception, you couldn’t check in past midnight. I should have planned that better. Oh well, I let Fierce lay on me and kept our luggage close because I kept nodding off and then snapping up again. Seven hours in and the Galapagos tax office opens up so we could get that $20/person out of the way, check in our luggage again, re-check ourselves in, go through security and a really beautiful walkway to a really beautiful gate.
Yay! We are on the last leg of our journey from Quito to Galapagos. I look out the window and see a massive city. Hmm…a little disappointing when you are expecting an island with protected wildlife, but ya know…So we get our carry-ons and head off the plane only to realize our luggage isn’t there. I ask about it and the lady looks at me like something is definitely wrong. She explains in Spanish and English that I was on a transfer plane and although my ticket says it go straight to the Galapagos, it actually makes a stop in GYE in Ecuador. She says it’s ok and helps us find our way back through security and to the boarding gate where we are the last to get on the plane, but there was still one person ahead of us so they were not waiting on us….aaaahhhhhh that was close! Ok, one more hour and I look out the window again to see islands!!!!
Balta is a desert scene. I can see why Elinor Roosevelt called it sad. It’s small and has a tiny airport with a tiny reception area where they collect a $100 entry fee to the National Park. The wind is strong and it seemed to add energy to my excitement of arriving. Outside the exit, I spoke with the bus ticket counter employee who explained that for $7, Fierce and I could ride the bus to the $2 Ferry and then take a bus (to bus station near our hotel) or taxi directly to our hotel. We took the taxi option because we split it with a couple and it was only $25. Nice! Plus, I am sorta over dragging my luggage around streets. This was definitely the right call. The streets do not have walkways so you are literally walking in the street while cars fly around you. Nope. One really special thing happened on that last jaunt. Fierce fell asleep on me during the ferry, but as I looked out at the ocean, I saw a few Blue Footed Boobie birds and one of them dove for a fish right in front of me!
We arrived at our hotel around 2pm. The room is nice and overlooks a pool. There is a free breakfast every morning and a little food market for candy, chips, drinks, and some fruits and veggies next door. Fierce picked out an orange ice cream pop and I tried the maracaju ice cream. It was delicious! Although we were tired, I wanted to try to get on the local time, so we decided to go into town for dinner. It’s only a short walk, but it’s pretty dodgy. Fierce said it looked like the Berenstein Bears local dump…from the Go Green book. Ummm…I couldn’t disagree. It took a lot to focus on the street art rather than the street. Anyways, we ate at a little place and the nicest lady brought us chicken soup and a pork plate with beans and rice. There were no pictures so I just ordered the top two things on her menu…lol The soup was really good! We walked back and finished our day in the icy cold pool. Fierce convinced me to go in up to my waist and we did a few “races.” A little while later, we unpacked and went to bed early. This was a good call, because we woke up with the roosters at 7am the next morning. Glad we were able to get some sleep!