April 11, 2010
We left San Jorge around 6:30 for our flight on AeroGal (Aero Galapagos) which would stop in Guayaquil and then go onto San Cristobal in the Galapagos.
We had very little information except to ask for “Jesse” at counter 3. Since Avi and I were the only people in the group who spoke Spanish, we volunteered to take care of things at the airport. As it turned out, things were taken care of for us.
The company through which the tour was arranged was Ecoventura, and they took charge. First we were sent to have our bags inspected. This involved going to the back of the small terminal’s lobby and having them put through an x-ray machine. We then brought them back to the counter, where they were tagged and checked.
We were each given a packet with our “contract” (mostly everything we were liable for and they weren’t), ID tags with our name and our yacht name -– we were on the Flamingo I – our parks passes, and tags for our luggage. Of course, since our luggage was already checked, we were a bit confused about those. But, oh well!
The flight was great after the initial “straight up” takeoff from Quito. Looking down at the city and almost across at the mountaintops really gave a feel for that part of Ecuador’s extreme geography.
During our short flight to Guayaquil we were given the day’s newspaper, a warm towel to wash our hands, and drink with a muffin. After a 45 minute stop in Guayaquil, during which we stayed on the plane, we were also given breakfast.
During our approach to the Galapagos, the flight attendants went through the plane and opened all the overhead bins. Then, one by one, they sprayed them with some sort of disinfectant, closing them immediately after. Spray, close, spray, close, etc.
Upon our arrival, we deplaned and walked across the tarmack to the terminal. Before entering we had to walk across a disinfectant pad. I assume there was also a process by which our checked luggage was disinfected as well.
The flight had been full and there was quite a line to wait on. However, I was delighted, in spite of it not being its own country, I now have a Galapagos stamp in my passport.
After passing “immigration”, we were met by Ivan, one of our naturalists. He told us not to worry about our luggage, that it would be taken care of. We were put on a bus and taken to the pier where we were met by our panga (dinghy) and given life jackets.
One short panga ride and we were on the Flamingo I, our yacht and home for the next 8 days. Also on our trip:
Joan and Dave (a retired couple)
Karin and Peter (a couple around our age)
Mark and Evan (a father and son)
Scott and Kendra and their children Grant and Claire
John and Rafia with their three children Cyrus, Emil, and Elian (This British family was traveling around the world over 12 months)
We gathered in the commons area (while our luggage was transported from the pier and put in our rooms) for our first “briefing” of the trip. Then we were sent to our rooms to change for our first visit. This one was a wet landing on San Cristobal’s Playa Ochoa for some beach time/snorkeling.
Avie and I weren’t really up for snorkeling, since we wear glasses, didn’t have contact lenses, and were more interested in what the land had to offer. But it was hot, it was later in the day, and the flies on the beach were starting to bite. We decided to give the water a try. It was incredibly refreshing and we were still able to enjoy seeing our first Blue-footed Boobies from that vantage. We also had a few Galapagos Sea Lions come in to check out the new arrivals.
Refreshed, we took the pangas back to the Flamingo I and got ready for dinner. Before dinner we attended the “briefing” for the next day. We would be visiting Genovesa, the morning being spent at Darwin Bay Beach (wet landing) and the afternoon at Prince Philip’s Steps (dry landing).
We were then introduced to Captain Victor and the rest of the crew over cocktails and a welcome toast. Dinner was most welcome, with several courses including an appetizer and a hearty soup.
After dinner a few of us went upstairs to see the sky, since there was no ambient light. It was absolutely incredible – we even found some of the southern constellations, something Avie and I had never seen before. During this time we also watched a Swallow-tailed Gull, a nocturnal hunter, fly beside the yacht, using its light as a tool while it hunted for food attracted to the surface.
Knowing we were being awakened at 7 am, after a day of an early wakeup, travel, beach time, and all kinds of excitement, we went to our room for the night.