Part 4 --> The Galapagos!
We took an early morning flight and landed on the island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos about mid afternoon. After a quick 10 minute bus ride we checked into our hotel and then quickly headed on a walking tour to explore. Just WOW! It lived up to every expectation. The water was crystal clear. There were sea lions lounging everywhere. The breeze cooled us from the scorching heat of the sun. It was breathtaking.
On the walking tour, one of our guides pointed out the abundance of local animals, from sea lions to crabs to even blue footed birds!
There, our tour guide showed us some of the local shops, where to rent snorkeling equipment, and some good restaurants she’d recommend. After the walking tour, we continued exploring and ended up at a pizza place for dinner. The pizza was delicious and definitely tasted more like European pizza, more sauce less cheese, exactly the way it should be done. With pizza, my mom and I ordered some fun margaritas which were a little too sour, but still refreshing nonetheless.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early to begin our 3 stop 360 tour! After a quick breakfast, our group headed down to the dock to board the motorboat. On the way to our first stop, our guides did some fishing, which was pretty gross for my mom and I, being the only vegetarians. After a long, arduous boat ride that left many of us feeling super seasick, we made it to our first stop. Greeted with a soft white sandy beach and crystal clear water, I quickly forgot about the seasickness.
There, we trekked over some rocks in order to make it to our first snorkeling destination. This was where we, especially beginners like me and my dad, would test the waters. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed since I only saw a few fish and possibly a sea turtle, but that was soon to change. As I was trying to get out of the water and climb the rocks, one of our group members pointed to my leg, fear written all over their faces. I turned around to see blood dripping down my leg from a nasty cut. Now, as many know, I tend to pass out whenever I get a shot, prick, or cut myself. All I could do was hope that I wouldn’t pass out on the very sharp and slippery rocks. Thankfully, my body realized that passing out would be quite dangerous, so I got a bandaid and we head off towards stop #2.
We got back on the boat and soon landed on another beautiful soft sandy beach, this time to just enjoy it and go swimming in the water.
Finally, we headed to Kickers Rock, a beautiful archway in the middle of the water where we would have the opportunity to do some deep water snorkeling. With my expectations lowered from the first spot, I jumped into the water with a new mask and a life jacket, hoping they would make a difference. I was blown away. It was absolutely amazing. We saw entire schools of fish, countless sea turtles, and even multiple sharks. Our guide told us that we got really lucky that we were able to see so many species and that definitely seems to be true.
I was so mesmerized that it took me a while to realize that my fingers had gone numb and had become very pale. The water was clearly pretty cold. Still, I didn’t want to miss anything so I stayed in the water until it was time for everyone to get out. That was the last stop of the tour and we headed back, tired and so very content.
That night, we went to another nice restaurant where our server actually told us that she was also vegetarian and suggested some meals for us to try. We tried an Ecuadorian soda called Inca Cola and really liked it!
It tasted kind of lemony and refreshing! And for dinner, we had a delicious vegetable crepe and a Mexican rice medley.
The next morning we visited a tortoise breeding center where we got to see and learn about tiny tortoises of only 1-2 years old all the way up to 80+ years old. They were funny looking creatures and very slow as expected lol. It was cool to see the older tortoises just moving around and crossing the pathways, not scared of us humans in the slightest. We would wait for the perfect time to take a photo with them as they were ambling to their next destination.
After seeing the tortoises, we went to a beautiful white sand beach and just got to have fun in the waves. I jumped one particularly high wave and somehow ended up upside down with salty water up my nose. That wasn’t great, but the soft white sand and crystal clear water made it worth it. After the beach, we went back to the hotel, had lunch, and then headed on a hike past the Darwin interpretation center to a beautiful look out point over the entire island. It was super hot on the way up but the view was breathtaking and we took lots of gorgeous photos.
We made our way down the hike just in time to see the amazing sunset from the beach. We were, of course, surrounded by tons of sea lions. One started running towards us as we frantically tried to get out of its way. The Galapagos is for sure a place where humans are the visitors and animals the rulers and we definitely saw that all throughout our trip.
After watching the gorgeous sunset, we had dinner at a local, not so touristy, middle eastern restaurant and packed up for our last day in the Galapagos :( My dad and I woke up early the next morning, had breakfast, and headed back up the trail to go explore the actual interpretation center. I thought it was interesting how the center told us the basics about evolution and why the species in the Galapagos were so different from species around the world. It turned out to be because the species in the Galapagos didn’t have any predators coming after them and so, for example, the birds didn’t need to be able to fly away from their enemies, and so lost that ability after a few hundred/thousand years. My dad, as the history lover he is, didn’t think the center was detailed enough lol, but I really liked it! On our way back from the interpretation center, my dad realized that he had left our water bottle back at the interpretation center, so as any intelligent husband would, he told me NOT to tell mom. I guess now she’ll know. I hung out by the café and got myself some fresh squeezed orange juice while I waited for him to go grab the water bottle.
Once he came back and we started walking again, inevitably, mom called, very annoyed of course, asking where we were, since we did have to checkout of the hotel in precisely 30 minutes. I had to keep the secret so she wouldn’t give us another speech on how we should be more responsible, so we said that we were close by and not to worry. We eventually made it back to the hotel and headed to the airport for our flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador, our final destination before flying back to the US.
The Galapagos was magical and really made everyone in our group realize the true importance of protecting the planet's biodiversity. I definitely want to go back one day :)