Wait! I think I have forgotten something

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
At Lauros Place in his spare room

Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Sunday, January 23, 2011

We woke up to a pleasant morning of glorious sunshine which was a lovely change after yesterday's rainy start. We had managed to book a ferry yesterday to the Island of Isabela, the largest Island in the Galapagos archipelago, the ferry cost $25. After a morning of wandering without eating, looking at more seal’s, birds, crabs and some puffer fish in the water of the harbour we walked to one of the local lagoons. It was full of locals either relaxing in the trees or jumping in from the jetty after plastic bottles filled with mud.

The time to catch the ferry finally arrived and we headed to the people we booked the boat with over near the boat jetties. We were given luminous orange stickers with Gabi on them and shown the general direction to the jetty. Despite having done the ferry / speedboat, chaos routine many times, in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines it still never fails to amaze how little you know or are told and how much confusion can go on. Still after trying to get on two unnamed boats another boat pulled up with Gabi written on it in big letters, no confusion anymore then.

We had to throw our bags across another boat to get them onto ours but the bags were loaded pretty quickly and before long we were sat in our boat with 22 others ready to head at high speed towards the island. "Everybody Ready? Ok Vamoos", and we slowly pulled out of the dock and towards the open sea, after about 1 minute one of the women started shouting and it was clear she had forgotten something. So we headed back to the jetty much to the annoyance of the driver. We were somewhat flabbergasted (if that is a real word) when she approached the steps and a child of about 4 years old ran over crying her eyes out. She had only forgotten her child. Is it possible to be any more laid back on these islands?

As the boat pulled away proper and left the harbour into the open sea, we hit the throttle and we were instantly taken back to the ferry to the Gili Islands in Indonesia, we hit waves with the people at the front being thrown from their seats and landing with a crash, women were screaming and sick bags were quickly passed around. It did quieten down pretty quickly though and the big bumps smoothed out. The route was full of yet more nature lots of sea birds, finches (yes we saw Darwin’s finches yesterday but forgot to mention it) and oddly enough .... fins. We have discussed this now for about an hour and still can’t reach agreement on what we saw, there were quite a lot of fins (maybe 20 or 30) now the fins were vertical and clear and obvious which for me rules out dolphins (plus they did not move like dolphins i.e. up and down nor any jumping), leaving sharks as my initial conclusion, Erica doesn’t think they were sharks due to the numbers of them, perhaps the only other option is killer whales, still we are very confused. Also we were quite surprised at how many other backpackers were on the ferry, we are not alone that is for sure with maybe 10 of the 20 passengers backpackers and the other half locals.  (Erica edit:   They were dolphins Andrew).

We landed in Isabela after 2 hours and we were not quite sure about the paradise we were expecting. Sure we saw a lovely sight of a load of seals on a boat titled “a competent crew”, but I think maybe the volcanic nature of the Island didn’t give us the best first impression. As the bags were offloaded we were pleased to see a very large white spillage and stain all over my rucksack and on one or two others, I was thankful it wasn’t yogurt because that could have stunk very quickly, but we still don’t know what it is, at least it gave us something to laugh about for a while.

There were quite a few hostel owners and so on at the pier waiting either to collect booked passengers or to try and pick up the stragglers (i.e. us) after speaking to two or three they wanted $15 or $20 (we obviously weren’t too interested in the couple of $100 people here), we found Lauro who for $10 a night would give us a room, with wifi and access to a kitchen, mmmm. Lauro spoke no English so as always I get concerned that I get a few things wrong and Erica assaults me. We jumped in a truck and went to Lauro’s, at this point I’d like to say hotel or hostel however, house. We kind of got his spare room, which has three beds, a plastic table with two chairs, and a gas stove, fridge, sink and crockery. Now this is right up my street, it’s like a bedsit I suppose, we can load the fridge with our own drinks, cook for ourselves etc. His gaff was also quite a bit out of town, he explained 'it’s quiet here, it’s very busy in town”, mmmm a town with a population of 2000 people is never going to be very busy. After a quick glance at Erica she was furious and clearly not very happy to be here. She wanted to pay the premium (an extra 5 Dollars) and go to another hostel on the beach, I was happy as Larry though.

Leaving Erica to wallow I set off to try and find some beer and water (aren’t they life’s two essentials), and after visiting maybe four or five shops, which all sold exactly the same produce and I mean exactly the same, I found water. The beer was expensive and about $1.50 a can but I needed something to add to the fantastic fare I would be producing tonight, a candle lit dinner in our amazing bedsit.  I headed back past the town game of volleyball and card gambling tables and found Erica still frustrated at just how slow the wifi was. I managed to get us booked on a snorkelling trip for tomorrow morning, costing just $15 each, and started explaining the options of what I would cook. We were on pasta with tuna and sweet corn, however we have both agreed to stop eating tinned tuna as a consequence of what we have learned on this trip, (Erica stuck to her guns), I offered up several tasty alternatives mainly centred around tinned offerings and / or based around spam and pasta. The lady decided we should go for a walk and have a look at the locals’ restaurants. One thing we forgot a small child maybe three years old came running out of nowhere with a cigarette in his mouth and punched me before running off for no apparant reason.... which was odd.

I took us on a bit of a detour and over to one of the lagoons which was great, there were flamingos and lots of other birds. We have seen flamingos quite a few times on this trip but the difference here was the complete disregard they had for humans, we were on a walkway but maybe 4 or 5 metres away and they didn’t even look up never mind run of or fly away, amazing. We could hear them sucking up food out of the water we were that close.

We then headed back into the town with its many unfinished extensions (going upwards of course) and its gravel roads until we found the beach. It definitely looked too rough to snorkel from which we had been hoping to do, and there were even people out surfing. We wandered down the sand then saw a sign that said ‘Marine Iguana nesting site’ we adventured in and climbed a lookout. Instantly we saw a large greenish Iguana on the rocks (they turn this colour when they are mating) with waves washing almost over it. On closer inspection we realised there were lots of what we think were babies, they were black and almost completely camouflaged on the black rock behind, but there were hundreds, and often so tightly packed in groups it was amazing. Again we were so close to these creatures and there were crabs almost climbing on them. We then turned around to leave and saw a local dog rummaging around the area that says ‘do not enter nesting site’, we didn’t see the dog eat or chase anything but it did do a fantastic plop right in the middle. Again we entered the deep debates on human habitation and the impact we have wherever we settle, only yesterday we read about how it had been the introduced species like dogs, cats and goats (as well as destruction of habitat) that have made the Giant turtle endangered rather than the eating of these animals (the local population have issues with the government as they believe they are being punished and prevented from earning a decent living in an area of such abundant resources), anyway I digress into our own discussions.

We eventually found our way back into the ‘centre’ of town and the 6 restaurants on the square. We did a quick look around and tried to look at the menus but got told to go away from a few as they were hours off opening (it was about 6pm and we hadn’t eaten all day). We did however find a special set dinner menu hidden away at one place (it was like they didn’t want you to have it) but the value was amazing on first sight and at $6 for a three course dinner was not what we were expecting from such a remote place. The lady was right it would probably have cost not much less than this to have pasta with spam, sweet corn and ketchup (even I cringe at my magical combinations sometimes). We finally chose one of the restaurants and to my disappointment the lobster special 3 course for $7 was off due to a lack of lobster so we had to settle for one of the other options, Erica chose shrimp and me the fish, the three soups were also off and we were left with no choice but fish soup, this meant I was supposed to eat Erica’s (I’ve tasted your dads fish head soup and I don’t like fish soup) however she managed half which was quite impressive, lots of green plantain and potatoes as well as fish. We finished with a type of crème caramel and a fruit punch.... all for six dollars, the oil to fry some eggs costs a couple of dollars!

We headed back to Lauro’s gaff in the dark, looking forward to lighting the candles, putting a film on and enjoying our chilled alcoholic beverages and free bottle of spirit that we have made purified ice cubes for....... within 5 minutes of getting back though I was fast asleep having drunk half a can of beer.
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