We made it to Isabela in one pice, but it definitely wasn’t as smooth as we had envisioned. Inter-island transportation is done through ferries unless you’re rich then you can take a small airplane. We obviously took the ferry. Tickets for the roughly 2 hour boat ride cost $30 each and we bought them through Caleta Iguana, the hotel we’re staying at on Isabela. They sent us a PDF of the tickets and said “just show up at the docks and they will tell you what boat you are on.” We should have known this wasn’t going to work. And it didn’t. It’s mass chaos on the docks. Each ferry sends a representative to the dock with a list of who is supposed to be on each boat (a handwritten list, mind you). Everyone races to the people with the lists and point out there name so they can then board a taxi boat to take them to the larger ferry. It’s important to be one of the firsts so that you get a good seat. A good seat it one outside with the breeze vs inside with the heat and the fumes.
So here we were – standing on the dock looking at every list wondering what is happening because we cannot for the life of either of us find our names. Shit…..shit shit shit. THANKFULLY a very nice bi-lingual gentleman swooped in to save a couple of gringos. In the end we had to pay the guy at the dock another $60 bucks and he slipped us onto the “ferry”. I put ferry in quotes this time because they really do call them ferries but they’re more like a regular, center-counsel boat. Seriously, if this boat was on the Chain-o-lakes it would have gotten a few looks (more so because it was decorated with about 25 dolphin decals and windows) but it wouldn’t have looked completely out of place. The boat help around 22 people. I sat on a cooler and Lindsay sat on a small bench with a ladies legs behind her. We were just so glad to have gotten on the boat. Thank you to the guy who helped us out and thank you to the guy who got us on the boat!!
Alright, we arrived in Puerto Villamil, Isabela around 5pm. It’s the largest and really only town on Isabela, which is by far the largest island in the archipelago comprised of six volcanoes, five of which are still active, one that erupted as recently as 2005. We’re going on a volcano tour/hike tomorrow, but I digress. So we arrive in the port, take a $2 taxi to Caleta Iguana and check in. We’re excited. This place is supposed
to be funky, hip, trendy – all these “cool” things we were excited for. And sure, I guess it is all of that (sort of?) but what is killing us is that 1. it’s expensive, $80/night. 2. beds are terribly uncomfortable – like sleeping on soft concrete and 3. there is no AC and absolutely no breeze. Sleeping last night was a chore. 12 hours into our stay and I am classifying this place as completely overrated ….frankly I would say this place sucks. I’m going to hold out my TripAdvisor evaluation until we have stayed the rest of our time. Oh, by the way – we’re here for 7 more nights. Hah oh well, at least it has a beautiful view.
FUNNY THINGS FROM SANTA CRUZ
Looking back the two weeks on Santa Cruz came and went really quickly. We had a ton of fun and wanted to share a few of the funny moments we had. In no particular order…
There are countless of Spanish-speaking related funny moments, but Lindsay had a couple of exceptionally funny ones. For some reason she has this habit of engaging someone in very fluent Spanish (think something along the lines of saying “hi, how are you? I’m good, I have a question…” all in Spanish and then not being able to communicate again in Spanish. These poor people get so confused. Here are two highlights
- We’re in the grocery store looking for some Diet Coke (Coke Light in Spanish) to mix with our rum. We don’t see any so we decide to ask the clerk. Lindsay approaches the guy and says “pardon, señor…” (excuse me, mr.) She had the accent and the rhythm of someone who knew the language. I was impressed. The guy said “si” (yes) and here it was…Lindsay got locked up. Didn’t know what to say or ask. She muttered a few “uhs..” & “ums…” and then built up the confident to ask him the question “¿hablo coke light?” or translated into English ..”I speak diet Coke?” The guy knew what she was talking about but we were cracking up.
- The wifi at our place was slow – turns out it’s slow every where in the Galapagos – but one afternoon we thought we would try out some restaurants wifi situation so we brought all of our electronics and cords. Somewhere along the way we dropped a charging cord to our GoPro. The next day we went back to the restaurant we thought that we left it at. Lindsay looked up the Spanish translation for “black cord” and sprung into action. Again, beautiful introduction and she asked about the black cord perfectly. The guy knew exactly what she was talking about and began looking around the bar area for the cord. He couldn’t find it and started to talk to Lindsay in Spanish for a good 30 seconds. She let him go on. We both didn’t have a clue what he said. Lindsay looked at me, I shrugged my shoulders and then she turned back to him and didn’t use one single Spanish word – she said this in all English “Hmm, well, I think that we dropped the cord over there by that table, but maybe not. We could have left it at a different place too. Who knows, thanks for checking.” The kid looked very, very, very confused. He smiled and said “no.” We told him have a great day (in perfect Spanish) and walked away.
These next ones are just random things that are funny…
- Lindsay has really taken a lead in booking our accommodations. Nothing funny here except there seems to be a trend. 1. were staying way to long and 2. every time we tell locals where we are staying their first reaction is either “oh, you like to smoke weed?” or “wow – party animals?”. Haha. And when we tell them we’re staying for 7 nights they almost fall over and ask ‘why??” Truth is we don’t really know, these places looked nice online. You live and you learn. Wondering what places these are? Montanita & Isabela, specifically the place we’re staying at on the island.
- We met a friend through scuba diving. She lives on the island and has a 6yr old daughter. She told us a story that her daughter would “guard” the hallway in their house and you could only pass if you knew the password. The for last year or so the password has been “bippity-boppity-boo” (you know, from Cinderella). The other day our friend went to pass through the hallway and recited the password, but this time her daughter said “nope, that is not the password!” Our friend inquired as to what the new password is and her daughter replied “mother fucker” with a humongous grin on her face. Hilarious.
- On Saturday, Valentine’s day, we went out to dinner and headed to the downtown square to check out what was happening. Turns out this is Carnival week in South America and it’s one big party. Tons of people out and about. Maybe 500 or more kids were running around with eggs, water balloons and bottles of silly string. These kids were soaking wet in a mixture of all three and “getting” anyone that got in their way. Of course I got in their way and was nailed with some silly string. I was tempted to buy some of this silly string and retaliate but I was severely outnumbered.
- When we went to the Highlands (new pictures from the trip are here) we used the same driver that picked us up from the airport, Walter. This is a funny, funny man and I am not sure that he intends to be. He doesn’t speak very good English and we don’t speak very good Spanish so our conversations are difficult. Here are the list of places we stopped in addition to the Highlands – we essentially ran errands with Walter:
- the post office, Walter needed to pick up a packager
- his house, he needed to let the dog out and pick up some eggs
- his parents house, he needed to drop off some eggs
- we also picked up an additional 5 people on our way back (part of his family) and dropped them off at their houses.
- On our boat cruise the naturalist guide invited us over to his house for a traditional Ecuadorian BBQ. We bring the booze, he supplies all the food. Perfect. He was insisting, he said that he loved what we were doing – the travel part – because he did it too when he was young. The plan was to communicate by email and he would give us directions to his house and confirm we were still on for Saturday night. We sent him two emails on Saturday morning and afternoon and never heard back. We got straight up ditched. Sad face. That’s not really the funny part. The funny part was that at about 9pm we are at a bar called Bongo room and Lindsay comes back to the table and says “look who I found!” – It’s our guy!! Wait…wait…why didn’t you write us back? He said that he went shopping for all the food but then his young daughter got really sick and had to be taken to the hospital. Oh…ok..um, but you’re getting drunk at this bar now?? Whatever, we had fun. But that is funny. Make a BBQ date, get ditched, randomly run into him getting drunk at bar, claims daughter is in hospital.
Oh, and we keep updating and adding more pictures to our Galapagos Albums so make sure you keep coming back to check it out!