We packed up and left our beloved Montañita in a speeding van, with D and Lady at the helm. She looked at him for reassurance as we flew at warp speed along the newly paved highway.
Apparently, this drive used to take a lot longer. Before we knew it, we were pulling into the most chaotic traffic any of us gringos had ever seen. There were fires along side the road, people shouting, lots of honking, people darting into traffic left and right. We had heard Guayaquil was dangerous, but this was like Wild Animal Kingdom, in the city.
Never pausing long enough to risk a car-jacking, D cursed in Spanish, one hand on the horn at all times. The boys and I exchanged nervous glances.
The plan was: chose a nice hotel as close as possible to the airport, then check in and stay there until it was time to fly out in the morning. We were under strict advice not to go out in Guayaquil.
Our hotel, one of the best around, was one of the most highly secure places I’ve ever been. It was like visiting the Pentagon! Cameras from all angles and the speedy elevators would go (after a room-key swipe) to our floor only. Figuring out how to get to Thacher and Andrew’s room (on a different level) was like a scene from Mission Impossible.
The next morning, we were driven to the airport in a van supplied by the travel agency who booked our Galapagos trip. Everything went smoothly until we arrived at the Galapagos airport (600 miles west of the west coast of Ecuador, along the Equator), when we realized it costs 100 dollars, cash, just to get through the airport. Between the four of us, there was only just over 300 dollars. Since there’s no ATM at the endearingly open-air Galapagos airport, I was instructed to leave my passport with security and bring the cash to retrieve it on my way back to the mainland, five days later. (Which wasn’t easy!)
Inconvenience quickly forgotten, I was already ogling the multitude of life forms lounging on the docks where we waited in groups of 8 for a little dingy to shuttle us to the Eden.
That was her name, Eden, a 16-passenger cruise ship was our new home, island hopping around the Galapagos.
Here’s a video I’ve put together from the first half of our Galapagos adventure…