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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

GALAPAGOS - A BONUS TRIP


From Cuenca we have a final mountain range to cross before we head to the Pacific Ocean. There is some magnificent high country before we reach the summit. From here on we are surrounded by low cloud and it starts to rain. Sadly no views of the magnificent, aptly named, cloud forest. We stop for the night at a petrol station before we reach the Pan-American Highway. The next day we descend to the coastal plains. There are crops as far as the eye can see…. bananas, sugar cane, rice & cacao. It’s not long before we reach the huge city of Guayaquil. We find our hotel and check if it is OK to leave GR2 in their car park. Yes!! Great so we head to the city to explore. It is Sunday, so traffic is not too crazy. We wander slowly along the malacon (waterfront) it is hot & humid. We even manage 500 steps up the hill & lighthouse to look the city. Eventually we return to our hotel. Oh no!! We see that there is a bar over the driveway entrance. We end up over the road in a rather grotty, secure (we hope) carpark with the owner & family living in a shack.

We don’t fly out to the Galapagos until Tuesday, so we spend Monday getting a few jobs done, & decide to find a better spot to store GR2. Eventually we find a great 24hr guarded & secure parking area. We feel much happier leaving GR2 there for a week while we are away.

It is only an hour and a half flight to The Galapagos, but it is a whole world away. How can words describe this magical place? Better to look at just a few of the many photos I took. We had a lovely week on board our boat, the San Jose. There were just 11 passengers to the 9 crew. More than half of us had booked last minute. It was a great group of people. We all mixed well & John had the best time ever talking to lots of “other” people.

Our days were filled with heaps of excursions. Usually 2 land trips involving a gentle hike, & 2 snorkeling sessions. In between we were fed well (it will be back to more merger rations when we return to GR2). We saw 1,000’s of Marine Iguanas, loads of sea lions, some amazing volcanic landscapes, huge land tortoises (in captivity & in the wild), many birds…the list goes on. The amazing thing was that the wildlife were totally unconcerned by us coming & ogling them. Some I’m sure even sat & posed for photos.

Perhaps the highlight for me was snorkeling with turtles, penguins, sharks and sea lions. Before we knew it our time was up & we were off to the airport. Lots of final Goodbyes and back to Guayaquil. GR2 was safe & sound, but very damp. It looked as if it had been raining all week.

We have just received an email from our shipping agent. The ship we were booked on to take GR2 to Panama has been changed from 7th Feb to 28th Jan, and can we make it on time!!! Phew! As it is already the 22nd and we have to drive through Ecuador & to the top of Colombia, there is no way we can make it.  More emails go back & forth. In the meantime we decide to get moving.

Coming next: Ecuador & our return through Colombia

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