Galapagos Islands, Part 1: Where exactly are they?

At last, my long-promised photos of the Galapagos Islands!  I thought you’d like to know a little bit about the logistics of the trip since I was a little vague on where exactly the Galapagos Islands were when we signed up for this expedition.

So, we flew from New Jersey to Miami (three hours) and then from Miami to Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador (about four hours).  Here’s the view from our hotel room at the Hilton Colon in Guayaquil:

We spent the night in the hotel, where they advised us not to walk outside alone and to only take taxis the hotel called for us.  Darling Daughter and I chose to remain inside, taking advantage of the pool and the five restaurants.  Not too painful.  BTW, that big white building in the middle of the photo is a Mormon church.  Who’d a thunk?

The next morning they dragged us out of our comfy beds at the crack of dawn to take the last leg of our airplane journey, a one-and-a-half-hour flight to San Cristobal in the Galapagos on this very new and handsome plane:

A short bus ride took us to the dock where we met our official greeting committee:

They look really excited to see us, don’t they?  We came to truly love the sea lions, who treated us humans like just any another critters.  Sometimes they played with us, sometimes we irritated them by shooing them off the paths or steps we needed to use, but mostly they just ignored us and kept on sleeping.

This was our first taste of the magic of the Galapagos: being looked on not as predators to be run from, but rather just as regular old mammals who shared their world…and who provided convenient benches to nap on.

From the dock they loaded us into the trusty rubber Zodiacs we would come to depend on for all transportation to and from the ship:

We learned the “Galapagos grip” for getting in and out of the bobbing Zodiacs: both hands free and grip forearm to forearm with the crew member helping you.  Otherwise you’d go in the drink.

En route to the ship, we passed more sea lions taking advantage of human constructions:

Finally, we saw the National Geographic Endeavor, the ship that would be our home for the next seven days since most of the islands are totally uninhabited. Three hundred feet long,  the Endeavor was built as a fishing trawler but refitted for passengers.  She’s a lovely lady.

It was comforting to know that she had originally sailed in rough northern seas since we were six hundred miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean right on the equator.

Darling Daughter and I shared this cozy but well-equipped cabin.  I love all the clever storage cubbies ships have, being a bit of an organization freak.

We had the obligatory “abandon ship” drill with the orange life jackets we came to hate since we had to wear them on every Zodiac ride.  Then we set sail for Cerro Brujo…and got a little sea sick, if truth be told.  Thank goodness for Bonine!

Here’s the beautiful beach where we made our first official landing.

And I saw–oh joy!–my first ever blue-footed booby, the reason I first became fascinated by the Galapagos Islands.

More photos to come…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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