Galapagos Islands Day Seven: Sombrero Chino and Santa Cruz Islands

Last night after dinner when I came up on deck to take my usual photograph of today’s itinerary and our chart progress posted on the whiteboard, I turned on the camera with every expectation that it would function perfectly. After all, it’s now taken almost a thousand photos since I paid $140 to have it repaired back in Quito. Instead, I heard a sickening grating sound, and saw only half the view through the viewfinder. A grain of sand was stuck in the “curtain,” the retracting shield that covers the lens. I thought I had been so vigilant in taking care of the camera since the repair job, so I was surprised to look into the padded case to see several grains of coral sand. What a heartbreak! After trying every method I could think of from blasting air through a straw to prying with an open paperclip, the “curtain” would not fully open. Lights out. Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Day Six: North Seymour and Bartolomé Islands

Day Six rolls around, and already I am starting to get that feeling that the end is upon us.  Time is going way too fast, and there is no way, no matter how hard I try, to slow it down. Every moment is precious, from the quiet mornings up on the teak deck, still wet beneath my bare feet from the morning dew, to the near-full moon shimmering on the water, casting enchanting moon shadows across the surface until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I don’t want it to end. It’s that old catch-22 dilemma of not wanting to spend my last couple of days feeling sad, but not being able to stave off sadness because we are careening toward the end. Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Day Five: Santa Fe and South Plaza Islands

We awake on day five moored to a buoy off the shore of Santa Fe Island in what is billed as “One of the most beautiful coves of all visitor sites in the Galapagos.” And I must admit, the description is not exaggerated. This cove is idyllic, taking every adjective I can think of to describe it…calm, clear, turquoise waters in a secluded cove just beckoning us to jump off the side of the boat for an early morning swim. Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Day Four: San Cristobal Island and Kicker Rock

We wake up on San Cristobal, fifth largest and easternmost island and home to the archipelago’s capital, to what would be our earliest breakfast time yet, 6:20am. As much as I am the antithesis of a “morning person,” I am coming to enjoy the earlier departures. For one, it’s cooler, as some of the hikes in the direct equatorial sun can get quite hot. But also, as we near the larger inhabited islands, we risk running into more people, like the San Cristobal Island day trippers for instance. Fabian and our Beagle crew have moved our itinerary to an earlier departure to avoid a 90 passenger ship that is now in close proximity. So it’s well worth it to get up at the crack of dawn to enjoy having just our small group on the trails. Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Day Three: Española Island

The Beagle has two zodiacs, or rubber dinghies used for ferrying passengers back and forth to land; one smaller and one larger. There are times when we all crowd into the larger of the two, but other times both boats are used. On this day, I learn a valuable technique…always try to get in the smaller boat, as it will only have one crew member, the helmsman. The larger of the two boats will always have two crew, the driver, and Fabian. With only one crewman, the smaller boat must wait for the larger boat to land first, so there is adequate crew to secure the boat and assist the passengers upon exiting. This is a long way to say “the smaller boat gets a longer boat ride.” On the landing in Española, this pays off in spades. The area where we would be making our dry landing is a “sea lion nursery,” Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Day Two: Floreana Island

Though it was a rolly passage to Floreana, so much so that at times I thought I might roll right out of my little bunkbed, I am thrilled to pieces to be on a sailboat again. While the majority of cruise ships in the Galapagos are catamarans, which admittedly offer more room and greater swell stability, I am a diehard sailor at heart, and find indescribable thrill and inspiration from being on a monohull at sea.

Though half my fellow crewmembers are skilled sailors, sadly, we won’t even see the sails unfurled on this trip for three reasons. One, the Ecuadorian Government keeps tight rein Continue reading

Galapagos Islands Day One: Meet The M/S Beagle

Aside from spending the money, my only hesitation in taking a Galapagos Islands cruise is that it’s been my 90 year old mother’s “dream trip” for years. As a “bird nut” and wildlife enthusiast, it’s been on her bucket list probably longer than it’s been on mine. So I felt overwhelmed with guilt to be taking this trip without her, even to the point of sending her an “apology email” beforehand.  While Mom’s mind is still sharp as a tack, (she is on email, Facebook, and never misses a blog post from her favorite reading list) her body is less cooperative these days. So although I offered to pay for her to come along, she understandably declined. A trip of this length is challenging for many, let alone someone of 90 years. So instead I will do my best to “take her along” in my posts with greater detail than I usually would devote to a one week trip. I hope my followers find the cruise interesting, but please feel free to enjoy the photos while skipping over the detail in the next eight posts if it’s too much.  You now know the reason why… Continue reading

Basking in Thoughts of the Bucket List

I’d all but given up on my dream of finding a last minute discount cruise to the Galapagos Islands, my sole reason for flying to Ecuador at the end of my Mexico journey. While Plaza Foch lived up to its reputation as being the central location of dozens of travel agencies, discounts were not as deep as I had hoped. I wandered every street, popping into shop after shop, but nothing seemed to fit within my budget. Between that frustration, the robbery, and my busted camera, I was starting to turn my sights toward a return flight to the US. Continue reading

Quito, Ecuador: Don’t Let Crime Ruin Your Time

I had “theft” on the brain from the moment I landed in Quito, Ecuador. I don’t typically give much thought to petty theft and street crimes, having lived in Manhattan for ten years. I have accepted that theft can happen anywhere, so I do what I can to protect my personal belongings, keep them out of view, and stay alert and aware when walking the streets of any large city. Then I try not to think about it too much.

Accepting the risks while arming myself with local knowledge, I refuse to let fear dictate my Continue reading

Real Time Update

Greetings, Friends and Followers. Time for a real time update from the “Middle of the World,” Ecuador.

Thanks to those who have written to inquire if all is okay since I had been posting regularly from Mexico, but have not posted in a couple of weeks. I have much to share, as I have seen some phenomenal places, both in Mexico and Ecuador.

But first there is a big black cloud that I need to clear.  I only want to write about this once, so as not to “go there” over and over again. I am ready to move on.  But friends have asked about photos and updates, and I have always tried to share the bad along with the good.  So here goes… Continue reading