Arriving on the islands

Trip Start Oct 07, 2005
Trip End Oct 12, 2005

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, October 8, 2005

I was excited as we would be going to the actual islands today. It started off with a buffet breakfast with assortments of various cheeses and fruits. One of the waiters asked Bernie if she was CHINESE & she replied with "No, I don't think I look Chinese". The Waiter said, "Oh I mean no disrespect" to which Bernie said, "none taken". It's the 2nd time Bernie has been told that. We were picked up by Maria from General Tours & the van driver, who I can't remember his name.  They took us to the airport in GUAYAQUIL & on our way there, pretty trees lined the divided highway through town. Maria said trees are there to protect the environment so the air is clean.

She escorted us to the check-in counter, luggage drop-off area and then sat with us explaining everything we needed to do & the forms we needed to keep. While waiting for our flight, there were many, shall I say "good looking guys" who were ECUADOR SOCCER FANS. Ecuador was in the soccer playoffs I believe. It made me wish I was going with them! They looked like they could be fun! We had to fill out a form, mostly asking us why we were visiting with multiple choice questions. One answer being, "to seek solitude". Mine was to take photographs. A couple of planes were parked right in front of the glass and we boarded them outside. (no tunnels)

The flight didn't seem long & the view of the islands was awesome with views of the beaches, dark blue water & cluster of islands. One thing that was a little bit frightening was the runway was short & the plane went all the way to the end,  making a turn to go back up for the complete stop! For a few seconds it looked like we would end up in the ocean! We did land safely on SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND. The airport was very small & we found the area to check in for our specific ship. The people that checked us in were our naturalist guides. All people waited in the same place no matter where you were going and it consisted of a open roof area with long benches. We were picked up by a minivan that took us to this small area to get on a DINGHY BOAT  which in turn took us to our small cruise ship, the M/V GALAPAGOS EXPLORER II.    It was a 100 passenger boat & our room had 3 single beds & was nice size with an ocean view window. We had drinks & finger foods before our BRIEFING about our 1st excursion which was later in the day. The guides/naturalists were introduced and we would have lectures/briefings every evening. We were informed about WET & DRY LANDINGS thus the need for our 2 different types of shoes.

Our first excursion consisted of us going down the steps on the outside of the ship & getting into the dinghy boat! I was quite nervous about this because I do NOT know how to swim. We always had a life preserver on and the guides were ALWAYS there to help but I was still afraid I'd trip & fall!  Then I realized we would have to do this twice a day for ALL of our excursions! OH BOY! This afternoon consisted of going to CERRO BRUJO and a handsome man named Bree (sp?) was our guide.  It had a beautiful white sandy beach with black rocks & was a WET landing which meant our dinghy was landing on a beach, hence getting wet up to your knees. Stupid me wore capri jeans which of course got wet! lol I was better getting in the dinghy than getting out of it. We followed the others & I lagged behind to marvel at the site of many sea lions, barely noticing the one right beside me! Some of the group went swimming but we just walked along the beach taking many pictures of SEA LIONS & BROWN PELICANS. We were told they wouldn't bother us unless we got too close or if a female was nursing and/or had a pup near her. I had never seen so many in my life! We were here for about an hour then back to the boat for dinner & a briefing afterward regarding the plans for the next day. After dinner I walked around the deck to catch a sunset & attempted to take pictures of our room. I still couldn't believe I was here!
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