Travels with V

Ecuador

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To the land of the sea lions

Ecuador, Galapagos part one

MARINE IGUANA

We enter the bus in Mancora and go on a long and bumpy and noisy trip to Guayaquil, the second largest city in Equador. The bus is filled with locales who seem to highly enjoy the repertoire of extremely violent and ear-shattering movies shown on the bus TV screens. Children are crying while people are shot by the minute, the sound being ridiculously exaggerated. A man in the seat behind us plays loud music on his smartphone. We offer him our headphones but he just shakes his head in disbelief.  

PERUVIAN iPHONE-STAND
GUAYAQUIL FROM THE HOTEL WINDOW

Guayaquil is a fairly modern city with a bad reputation and a big port, but we don’t see much of it. The hotel has a 24/7 open restaurant, which we are extremely grateful for, since we haven’t eaten properly in 13 hours. We did have a hot dog (perro caliente) at the crossing of the border between Peru and Ecuador. That’s all.

That border is really something. I’ve heard that it was much worse back in time, when You entered one building to leave Peru, then had to walk to another building to enter Ecuador. With endless lines to both. Now things are much easier, of course. There’s only one building for both in and out. To which the lines are now twice as long.

From Guayaquil Airport we fly west over the Pacific and drop down on a barren little island called Baltra. The US Airforce came here after Pearl Harbour to build a military airport that could provide protection for the Panama Canal.

Today it’s a modern commercial airport boasting an eco profile. Import rules are extremely strict and dogs sniff through mountains of bags. From here we must enter first a ramshackle bus down to a small ferry over a narrow strait to Santa Cruz. Then another bus across the island to Puerto Ayora on the southern tip of Santa Cruz where a boat takes us to our next goal, the island San Cristobal.

WELCOME TO THE ECO FRIENDLY AIRPORT OF BALTRA
THE FERRY BALTRA-SANTA CRUZ. ALL LUGGAGE ON THE ROOF.
THE FERRY ROUTE TO SAN CRISTOBAL

This ferry is like the boats you see in US movies used when people go ocean fishing. With a powerful waterjet motor and the captain in a small deckhouse above. It’s full speed ahead from the start in order to get to the goal in the promised two hours. But we meet rough seas and the boat jumps from the top of the waves and crashes down with blows that shake the hull with ominous sounds and make the passengers gasp for air.

After about half an hour into this rollercoaster madness the sick bags are distributed. And used. I’m worried that my spine will be crushed, and a couple of the passengers look really worried. A young boy is sitting with his eyes closed, lips moving constantly. I think he is praying.

PUERTO BAQUERIZO MORENO, THE CAPITAL OF GALAPAGOS

Finally sheltered in the bay at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno the passengers begin to look a lot happier. We climb ashore on shaking legs and almost immediately stumble upon creatures that we will see all over Galapagos – sea lions.

By the bridge where the ferry lands, on the stones at the shore, on sandy beaches by the promenade, on walkways and streets. Most often they are asleep, but their sleep seems to be an uneasy one. They move around, flap their flippers to chase away flies, but then waking their neighbours who don’t take these interuptions well. Sometimes they chase away the uneasy sleeper with angry barking and bared teeth.

Humans and sea lions don’t interact much but now and then You see stupid tourists trying to provoke the animals for a good and funny selfie. But that’s when the big males can be dangerous and attack to defend the females. It’s unbelievable how people can have so little respect for these animals, I mean they were here long before we were, right?

Puerto Baquerizo Modena is the only city on the island of San Cristobal, and has the status of  capital of the Galapagos. But it’s quite small, You can quickly walk from one end to the other. We live in a nice and clean hotel right by the promenade that’s proudly called Malecón, where most of the bars and tourist shops are located. But just a block away there is the real town with no-fancy unpainted walls, laundries, hole-in-the-wall restaurants with steel furniture and concrete floors.

Our first trip in San Cristóbal is a short trip to a crater lake that is the major fresh water reserve on the island. This is crucial because rains are rare and water is an extremely scarce resource on all the Galapagos islands.

We continue to an institution where the famous Galapagos giant turtles are bred and sheltered, and later to be returned to the places where the eggs were once collected. It’s an open park with a great number of turtles, in all sizes. When we pass the big ones on the paths they subtract their limbs into the shell with a hissing sound.

At a water hole where lots of turtles meet we witness a fight between two males over a female. It’s a funny fight with the two slow moving stiffs trying to attack one another. It’s a brief outburst of violence.

In the next chapter we look at the strange stories of the pioneers who tried to survive on these barren shores. And we swim with sharks!

Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.