Monday, May 11, 2009

Now we have gotten our passports stamped with the Galapagos mark (WOW!! Two stamps) we gathered our suitcases and wandered out the back side of the building.

There were shops there and I immediately went to look for a hat. I realized that the sun at the equator was looking to bake my only slightly tanned Kansas City skin... Hal declined at this time as he felt his baseball cap would do him just fine.

As I have previously mentioned, we landed on the "gateway" island of Baltra. The posted sign explains how we now take a short bus ride from the airport to the boat dock. There we catch a ferry to the Island of Santa Cruz. Then back on a bus to travel from the dock on the North side of the island through Santa Rosa & Bellavista to Puerto Ayora on the South end of the island.

After safely waiting in last place in line to board the bus Hal barely made it on the bus and had to stand by the door.
I however, plowed on pretty near the beginning and had a seat, as you can see over my head (see my new hat) it was a full crowded bus ride to the dock.

Narrow curvy roads. There is a view of the island we are heading for. By the way, we are SUPPOSED to be on the right side of the road. But in all fairness... we only passed on other vehicle.

Made it! Now to wait for the Ferry Boat.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Sign Says........

Here we are inside the terminal. It's pretty interesting when you consider that this is an INTERNATIONAL airport. What you are looking at is the main (only) building. There are no windows. (Meaning NO AIR CONDITIONING) , but surprisingly out of the sun means out of the heat, so it's not too bad in here. Hal had decided that the safest place for his passport was in his suitcase. These are the types of things you do when you don't carry a carry on or a purse. Upon hearing that you had to show your passport in order to pick up your suitcase, he began to worried a bit. But no worries, it seems that it is a common occurrence. And the passport folks took it all in stride. In fact, Hal wasn't even the only person on this flight that packed their passport.

Now that we have safely secured our place as last in line, that gives me time to wander all about this side of the passport stamping area and see all the sites this building has to offer.

Lizards... This place has LIZARDS.... hmmmmmmmmm

Most of the signs here have English translations on them. But not this one. I have no idea what it says. Perhaps Josh could translate.....

Touch Down!! Officially on a Galapagos Island

It's pretty anticlimactic. Here is the first view of the Galapagos. The airport is pretty nondescript. We were still hadn't put the "rubber to the pavement" so this shot was pretty quick and not to well aligned.

Hal in front of the airport, followed by a shot of the plane we arrived in.

Now here is the surprise. The place is a freaking desert. I am not sure exactly what I was thinking it would be. A bit more plush maybe. Not a rain forest, but I didn't expect cactus!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No Cootie-bugs Allowed

There are two reasons that outside planes land on the itty-bitty Island of Baltra. One is the U.S. military built a landing field on it during WWII because it was the flattest island and easiest to work with. That making the cheapest way to have an airport: just maintain and upgrade the one someone left you. The other reason is Baltra is pretty much isolated from the other islands. There are other islands that are even more isolated from the inhabited islands, but they are not close enough to them that it would be easy to get workers back and forth to the airport. And as we found out before we even landed, the goal of the protectors of the Galapagos is to keep exposure of any outside things from further contaminating the ecological balance of the islands. So Baltra acts as barrier island to the main populations.

It starts on the plane. As we approached the landing field the steward opened every overhead bin then walked the full length of the plane spraying the carry on baggage. I know they were spraying for unwelcome bug hitch-hikers, but some how I felt as though they thought we all had cooties.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Next time check a map!

OK, I admit this trip caught me off guard. I knew the Galapagos were somewhere out there in the Pacific. I didn't actually know where in the world it really was. By virtue of having to prepare for travel to Ecuador I came to know the islands were a state that country. Somehow I crossed something I read and had it in my mind that the islands were 90 miles off the coast of Ecuador, it wasn't until I realized that we had a FOUR HOUR flight that it was a darn site further than 90 miles. Actually the islands lay 600 miles off the South American coast.
So much for my geography knowledge.

The trip was totally uneventful. No bad weather, no high winds, no obnoxious kids or goats and chickens... just a regular flight .... until I saw where we were going to be landing. After hours of seeing nothing but water the plane banked to the right and I looked out the window to see one tiny oval of land with a strip in the middle of it. The realization that this plane was going to land on that "hic-up" of dry land made me uneasy. My immediate thought was ... it's missing something, such as a CONTINENT. I can tell you why the Galapagos tortoises are not in the Atlantic Ocean, because our constant hurricanes would have washed those non swimming turtles into the sea and that would have been the end of them. Those tiny specks of land this plane was now aiming for would not be any protection at all from huge waves.
Now I want you too keep in mind as you look at the above picture of the landing strip and then the satellite picture of the islands that the round island at the end of the point is NOT Baltra (the island with the landing strip) That is Santa Cruz. Baltra is the tiny point of that otherwise round land mass. At the time we turned, the only thing I could see was Baltra.

Also, keep in mind that this group of islands are
not the size of Hawaii. I just threw the blurry map below in so you can see the location of and compare the size of the Galapagos to the Hawaiian Islands.

Back at the airport

Seemed like we were just here... Oh wait we were here just 6 hours ago. The guide brought us here... showed us which line to stand in, which documents to have in our hands, where to set our suitcase... and when we were done... He bid us farewell.

To me that was confusing. Like ummmmm... "wait" what will we do when we land??" But we just wave goodbye and took our seats on the plane.

The GAP tour begins.

When we were just drifting off to sleep, Hal & I wondered just how we were supposed to find our connection to the GAP people that was our tour group. But we need not to worry not even a little tiny bit.

We went for breakfast at 7am and by 7:20 the tour people started to arrive, and by 8 am we were safely loaded up in our grey van and on the way to the airport.

These GAP guys were great, start to finish.