I am writing this as I sit at “The Rock,” one of nicest bar/restaurants on Santa Cruz, Galapagos. It is noon and I just finished an order of fresh calamari and an Ecuadorian beer. I have walked more than five miles at Tortuga Bay—white sands and aqua water that one can see through to the bottom. Since 7:00 a.m. I have shared the beach with giant marine iguanas, frigates, and all manner of gulls.
In my time here, I have decided I am not a naturalist; I do not like bugs, amphibians, or reptiles. Furthermore, I am a clean freak and picky about what I eat (this morning breakfast was fried green bananas with white cheese). I also do not like any form of “rustic, primitive living.” Obviously, I discovered quickly that I am not the perfect fit for the Galapagos Islands. So what was I thinking?? About the adventure!! I suppose it is akin to why people climb mountains, run marathons, or even write novels. It is all about “just doing it,” because it is a challenge or a passion. This may have given me pause about going to other remote areas, but since I want to see the Seven Wonders of the World and the runners-up, I may be in some trouble with my inner being. Time will tell.
I am, though, enjoying the adventure. I enjoy every place I visit, but some more than others. And although these islands will not go down as a favorite, part of the reason may be my fault. The timing, perhaps, is not the best. I am distracted because my mind is on Keeping Faith and its completion. I have not been focused on the trip because I keep checking my email for word from the publisher and thinking about all things related to the book. Traveling is about attitude, and this time, I just haven’t been in the game.
Nonetheless, I flew from Quito, a two hour flight, directly into Baltra Island and then transferred by boat to Santa Cruz, another island, and then took a bus 45 more minutes into Puerto Ayora. I was accompanied by a pre-arranged guide who was supposed to be fluent in English, but apparently no one told him! My Spanish is better than his English, so there is a good chance I am not even where I think I am!! Getting to and around The Galapagos is not for sissies!
Baltra Airport is small, very small and pretty much open to the elements! Baltra was a U.S. military base from 1941-45 when the Ecuadorian government allowed the U.S. military to use the island in order to protect the Panama Canal during World War Two. The only inhabitants were 4,000 U.S. soldiers who never called the island Baltra or its code name Beta. To them it was simply The Rock because it is more than five square miles of rock and very little else.
The soldiers, as the story goes, were bored and isolated, waiting for a war that never came to them so they started the first beer garden in the Galapagos. Now, this modern version of the beer garden is located just a block from where I am staying, “The Hotel Red Booby.” Yes, that is the real name. The Red Booby is a bird here in the islands, as is the Blue Footed Booby, which I have already seen. So, I guess you can say that my boobies are in good company.
The “las tiendas” are closing for the next couple of hours for siesta, and I have a boat to catch, so I must close until later. Hasta manana!