Our flight from Quito to Galapagos had a quick connection in Guayaqil (we stayed on the plane, people left, newcomers joined). Excitement hit as we flew over some of the outlying islands. The airport is located on Baltra (just north of Santa Cruz) and was built during World War II by the Americans in order to protect the Panama Canal. We were met by G Adventures staffer Juan who then helped us transfer onto a bus bound for the short ferry trip to Santa Cruz. Once on the other side of the water we hopped in a van and spent the next 45 minutes or so bolting south towards the main port city and tourist hub of Puerto Ayora.
We immediately drove to one of Planeterra’s projects, a special needs program at a local elementary school. Developmentally challenged and deaf students have had a special program created for them by a collection of dedicated teachers. The children create beautiful works of art using recycled paper, selling them in the community and on G Adventures Galapagos boats to help fund their program. We met with the staff and had an opportunity to see the children making the products which was good fun.
After our visit at the school Juan took us to a local restaurant where we all enjoyed the special of the day, “Coca Cola Chicken.” I remember feeling as though I were starving and devoured my meal in seconds. I was also exhausted and once finished lunch was taken to my hotel where I had a shower and relaxed. I was fortunate enough to have a stellar view of the harbor from my room.
I met up with Jon and Paula at The Rock for dinner. The restaurant has been around since World War II, catering to the Army boys. The interior was eclectic and it was neat to know their was a history here. We shared an antipasto plate and I ordered breaded cheese sticks and a bowl of Penne with Gorgonzola cream and roasted hazelnuts. My Pina Colada was a delight, made of fresh coconut cream and pineapple. Later in the evening I met up with Juan and visited a local bar, Cafe Limon for a drink.
The following morning I hopped on my G Adventures Galapagos Cruise. I would be totally out of touch with the internet for a week (which I think may be the first time this had ever happened since the inception of the internet). Forced to relax and disconnect from social media and connect with nature and the world around me. Once on the boat I met the rest of the group and enjoyed lunch. We then hopped back on land and took a trip to the highlands where we enjoyed walking around a Giant Tortoise Farm and climbed through one of the islands famous lava tunnels.
We made our way back to the boat and spent the next week bobbing about the ocean visiting several islands. We returned to Puerto Ayora on our last day and in the early morning visited the famous Charles Darwin Research Centre where we learned more about the plight of the Giant Tortoise and had a chance to visit the most famous Tortoise in the world, Lonesome George.