Hello friends and family. It’s been a while since we checked in outside of Viber, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
We’ve made it safely to the Galapagos Islands, specifically Santa Cruz island in the town of Puerto Ayora. We’re staying at this really nice 2nd floor 2bd, 1ba apartment just a few minute walk into town, although admittedly every place in Puerto Ayora would be only a couple of minutes to walk to the downtown. While this is the tourist and travel capital of the entire archipelago there are less than 12,000 residents in this town.
So knowing that and being from Chicago we thought “oh, this will be simple…a quick walk around town and we will have our bearing straight.” Um…no. Walking to the grocery store, which our landlord explained how to get to in plain English and said would take 10-15min took us almost an hour. We cabbed it back after and were only able to provide directions based on the name of the house across our street that our aforementioned landlord kindly wrote down on a piece a paper. We handed that to the cab driver. We also decided to take a “dry run” at walking to the scuba place where our classroom lessons were had. Thank goodness – cause there again we couldn’t for the life of either of us locate this place. This was even after we studied a map before we left. 10 minute walk Google said. 35 minutes later we were asking for directions in a local shop. We arrived shortly thereafter. After our scuba lesson we decided to take a different way home. We were rewarded by stumbling across an awesome Galapagos version of Eataly meets weekend farmers market, but had to suffer through carrying a 15b watermelon and other fruits and veggies for the 30 minute “are we really lost again?” walk home. And to think that in our 24hrs we supposedly learned that we needed to carefully map our where we’re going. What is the common denominator here? Us. Oh well.
But we haven’t just been getting lost. We’ve seen some really cool stuff like our friend ‘Bert’ – a Galapagos Sea Lion that hangs out on shore at fish market in Pelican Bat. The fish market itself is really awesome as fisherman come back at all times of day to sell their fresh catch – tuna, wahoo and spiny rockfish are the most popular. It attracts the local sea lion and a lot, a real lot, of Pelicans. We haven’t bought from there yet, but we will.
The Charles Darwin Research Center is located a 15 minute (45 minutes if you follow us) walk from our apartment. This is the place where the famous Galapagos Tortuga (Tortoise) is bred in captivity and once they reach the age of 6 are released to the wild.
The grocery store is charming in it’s own way. You see, there aren’t a lot of grocery stores like you or I are used to. Here there are a handful of very small markets that sell extremely random stuff. It’s like a version of Chopped or Iron Chef America in these little stores with all the weird stuff they are selling. Combinations like…I am not kidding a grocery store and mattress store combined. But wait..there is one traditional grocery store right at the pier (where all the boats dock). It’s called Pinsolair. It’s 2 stories – food on the first floor and toiletries and sundries on the perimeter of the second floor. it probably has a smaller shoppable footprint than Walgreens to help put it in perspective. Why am I taking so long to tell this story? Because it’s an extremely popular place, lots of people shop here – both locals and tourists. But it’s a fucking train wreck. They have a computer system to check people out (scan barcodes, weigh fruits, etc..) but that system NEVER works. The poor register workers have to manually write down each UPC and look up the cost if its not stickered on there. That means that every trip you make here..and you basically have to go…you will spend no less than 30 minutes in line. And no one cares, not one single bit. There are always a minimum of 15 people sweating profusely in line watching a checkout process from the 1850s and it’s all cool. You know that I am still in “work mode” when this is just as fascinating to me as boats in the bay.
Ok, now for the good stuff – a collection of pictures with captions from a first couple of days.