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Ecuador, Galapagos July 15, 2011

Postcard from Galapagos

We had a plan to send postcards to our families back home from the places we’ve visited during our around the world trip. But not until Galapagos did we finally get a chance.

It was interestingly hard to come up with something to write about knowing there’s no ‘Ctrl-Z’ button to save us if we make a mistake. We couldn’t remember the last time either of us has written so much using pen and paper.

Ecuador, Galapagos, Yummy Food June 21, 2011

Easily Amused in Galapagos

Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador

Finding a budget place to eat in Galapagos, especially if you’ve given up on cooking in hostels, was tough.

Still reeling from the price tags of the waterfront restaurants of Puerto Ayora, we stumbled across this eating place on a street called Charles Binford, 3 blocks inland.

Sharing the cramped eating space with a group of local cops and taxi drivers confirmed what our $5 lunch bill told us: This street, is the place to eat on a budget in downtown Puerto Ayora.

Budget place to eat in Puerto Ayora

Charles Binford Ave at night

We ate here for almost all of our meals.

Give the local’s favorite, encocado de pescado (fish in coconut curry) a try. For $6, it’s not cheap by the mainland standard, but compared to everything else in Puerto Ayora, it’s a steal.

And it’s delicious.

Then again, coconut milk makes everything delicious.

Of the many restaurants there, one stood out

Our favorite restaurant is this gem called K.F. Williams.

Remember the restaurant with an identity crisis in Cartagena? Well, we might’ve found one that tops that. Check this out: the owner has murals of himself painted on the walls of the restaurant.

Place to eat, Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

A mural at K.F. Williams of K.F. Williams' head

Not only that, when I asked for a menu, the girl pointed to the wall behind me.

William, William's portrait, and I

William, William's portrait, and I

He’s got the menu painted, PAINTED, on the wall of the restaurant, complete with prices. Not painted on a board that hung on a wall, but actually on the wall itself.

I imagine they probably don’t change the menu and the prices too often there.

And who do you think prepared encocado de pescado? Nobody but William himself. We recognized him right away (how could we not?). And of course we had to drag him out of his busy kitchen to take pictures.

Is it just us or is the whole thing just simply hilarious? Not to mention a great marketing stint? We can’t seem to get over it.

Ecuador, Galapagos June 16, 2011

Learning to Appreciate Galapagos

What are the images you see in your mind when you think of Galapagos? Tortoises? Lizards?

For me, it’s finches. Finches from a poster my third-grade Biology teacher put up on the blackboard of all the different finches that can be found on the islands. You know, Darwin’s famous finches?

Finches. Birds. Small birds at that. I’m not a small bird person. I guess safe to say I’m not a bird person at all.

Ecuador, Galapagos June 14, 2011

Surviving Galapagos: From Seasick to Landsick

Quito, Ecuador

Where we are now: Recovering from land-sickness in a Quito hostel

Where we are now: Recovering from land-sickness in a Quito hostel

The first thing that struck me about Galapagos was the distance.

The archipelago is a 2 hour flight from mainland Ecuador. But not only that, vast distances separate the islands from each other. On a map, they look all cozy, nestling against each other, but there were nights our luxury cruise trip around the Galapagos when we would sail for 10 hours.

The second thing that struck me about Galapagos? Blue-footed boobies can be quite possibly the cutest bird in all bird kingdom.

And the third discovery? How rough the sea around Galapagos can be and how I don’t like boats very much.

The first night on the boat was the worst. Fresh from the mainland, I mistimed taking the seasickness pill and woke up at 2 am. The boat was rocking back and forth and we felt moments of weightlessness – which sent me hurling my stomach content into the sink. I spent the remaining of the night in the bathroom, alternating between retching, trying to sleep with my head next to the sink, and wondering how I were going to survive the next 7 nights.

But with the help of drugs (thank goodness I stocked up before we left), survived I did. Drugs can be wonderful.

The next 7 days were filled with drug-aided bliss of internet-free relaxation, wildlife watching, and eating.

On our last day, we were scheduled to be on our flight back to Quito at noon. Our guide woke us up at 5:30 in the morning and hustled us off the yacht to the pangas (small motor boat) to visit some land iguana colony. Then a rushed breakfast on an already moving boat back to Puerto Ayora, the main port.

This last 2 hour stretch was rougher than any of us has ever experienced. The boat was tossed and turned. It was rolling back and forth, up and down, side to side. Even Jack, who seemed to be immune to effect of the moving boat up until this point, spent the journey sleeping the nausea off.

A whirlwind of travels in multiple vehicles then ensued.

Off the yacht to the pangas to the port. Then an hour bus ride to yet another port. Then back to pangas to cross the strait. Then back onto a bus to the airport. Then a 3 hour flight to Quito, followed by a taxi ride to our hostel. Maybe there were more – I’ve lost count.

Meanwhile we seemed to have traded our seasickness with its land version. Bouts of nausea hit us at random times while walking or sitting. We sway and stumble like drunks. And we’re exhausted. We returned to our hostel in Quito after dinner and fell asleep right away at 7 pm.

We’ll tell you more about Galapagos, of course: the boobies, the tortoises, and the pampering we received while on the cruise. It’s truly a wonderful and unique place. But first, we have to get the world to stop spinning then we have (yet another) 3 hour journey ahead of us. To BaƱos, this time.

In the meantime, here’s a quick teaser:

Land tortoise, Galapagos, Ecuador

Ecuador, Galapagos June 7, 2011

Last Minute Everything Galapagos

Galapagos, Ecuador

We’re in the Galapagos!

*excited giggles*

Assuming everything goes smoothly as planned, when this post published we should be in the middle of our Galapagos cruise.

Which was not according to plan at all.

We weren’t planning to visit the Galapagos this early on our trip, and the original plan was to explore the islands as day trips as opposed to a cruise.

But things just kind of turned out differently, thanks to a thief. A car thief who decided to break into a dirty, California plate van parked in Quito’s Mariscal district.

Wait? What?

Well, I hate to leave you guys hanging, but I’m going to let our friends, Niel and Miin tell their stories in their own way.

But suffice to say, without the incident we wouldn’t be sharing a ride with them to Quito and we wouldn’t have ended up inside a travel agent’s office in Quito. A travel agent who specializes in last-minute flights to Puerto Ayora and last-minute Galapagos cruises.

Someone who is also well-equipped in dealing with couples who can’t keep their dates straights and minds made up.

Until the very last minute.

Anyway, there will more stories and pictures coming up in the next week. In the meanwhile, let’s focus on the fun part right now. Which is:

We’re on a boat!

This boat.

Our boat, the Fragata

Circling around the Galapagos islands.