In 2006, I'd visited Ecuador but wasn't able to visit the Galapagos (lack of financial resources was the main reason). Instead I traveled to Isla la Plata, known by locals as "the poor man's Galapagos." While cycling in Peru, Louise, my tour guide talked about the Galapagos and mentioned a local airline airfare sale... I started looking, saw cheap tickets, was at first apprehensive and the ticket prices started going up. I realized that I would regret not going, faced that I would be in debt a few months and bought the airline tickets. This also meant, in order to maximize my time in the Galapagos, I would face an epic journey getting home because I would have to get myself back to my original departure city of Lima, Peru.
I boarded a flight from Quito with the destination Baltra, the airport closest to Santa Cruz. The flight made a stopover in Guayaquil, but I didn't need to deplane. After 40 minutes we were off again. Before landing, the flight attendants sprayed something over all of the luggage stowed in the overhead bins. (Presumably to kill insects?) I arrived in the Galapagós (after three flights) with very little knowledge as to how things worked on the islands. I'd done a scant bit of Google research.
After exiting the plane, we all proceeded to migration, and to the counter to pay the $100 USD Galapagos entrance fee. Somehow I had gotten through Quito without paying the other $20 USD fee, (probably because I almost missed my plane, but that's another story) so I had to move to a different line to pay the additional fee. The next step was to have my bags searched for contraband- mainland fruits, veggies and most foods aren't allowed. I had some cookies in my bag which I didn't declare, and the customs dude glared at me when I showed him. He then pointed to the place on the customs form (which I did not check off) that said 'processed foods'. He scowled at me and told me to pass.
I had not checked my luggage because I was late for my flight so I was able the to exit the airport without having the trained canine walk over my luggage. The airport workers spread the luggage out while the expectant passengers watch and wait behind a line. Then an officer takes a Shepard and leads him on top of everyone's luggage, the dog actually paces over the luggage many times and sometimes selects one piece to be examined. (Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the spectacle).
Then the real fun begins, getting to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. First you hop on a bus (free), which takes you down to a small ferry ($1 USD), then you get onto another bus ($2) which drops you near the port in the center of town. I was easily able to walk to my hostel from the port. Although my dang plantar fasciitis had started to act up and my left foot was a bit inflamed, I checked into my room and quickly left to explore the little town.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.