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10. Adios, Sea Origin

Some Background...

semi-overcast 72 °F

Day 10, Saturday, June 25

Today’s agenda: Disembark. The worst day of any cruise is disembarkation day. Our flight departs at 10:35am for the short--under two hours--flight to Guayaquil's Jose Joaquin De Olmedo Airport, arriving at 1:21pm.

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Breakfast in the restaurant is from 6:00am until 7:30am. Everyone is to be out of their suites by 7:00am so that the "turnaround" can commence. An entirely new batch of passengers will be arriving. We are responsible for our own carry-on luggage and must remember to bring our life vests for the Zodiac transfer.

After breakfast, we made our way to the holding area and then onward to the Zodiac for the ten-minute open water trip to the San Cristobal pier where sea lions welcomed us--or bid us adios--as the case may be.

Earlier, mist had been falling but it cleared as we made our way across the open water. Upon arrival at the bus, it began to lightly rain. Our timing was impeccable because rain on the Zodiac, even a light rain, would result in some very wet travellers.

It is a longer ride to the airport than they advertised. Told it would take three minutes, it actually took just over four. Check-in was easy. There was an immigration checkpoint that I don’t understand because this is an inter-country flight—The Galapagos is a part of Ecuador. Oh, well.

We have learned that many of our fellow passengers’ air travel arrangements went awry because of the civil unrest in Quito. Silversea re-booked all who had entrusted their flights to the cruise line so that they flew out of Guayaquil and not Quito. Those who made their own travel arrangements were not so lucky; I am unsure how they fared. Demonstrations and violence in Quito have prompted President Lasso to declare that the leader of the protesters, “Mr. Iza’s real intention is to overthrow the government.” He said, “To our indigenous and peasant brothers who have been brought to Quito under false pretenses, we ask you, for your safety and that of your families, to return to your communities. We cannot allow people to face off against people. Mr. Iza has no control over the demonstrations, nor over the criminality that his irresponsible actions have generated,” he said.

So, unconfirmed by us, our situation is that some are alleging that the place we now visit is under an active attempt at a coup d’etat.

What would it be like to live here in The Galapagos?

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Ocean currents play a major climate role here. The cold Humbolt Current from the south dominates during June and November and meets with the warmer Equatorial Current creating a cooler, sometimes misty “La Garua” climate. Cooler water evaporates less which means fewer clouds form which means there is less rain. Between December and May, the Humbolt weakens making the water warmer and the weather wetter. I will say this: Snorkeling in June means jumping into water that is, frankly, damn cold. But, after five minutes or so, the cold water that penetrated your wet suit, (that's why they call it a "wet" suit) is heated up by your body and becomes a bit of an insulation layer. I was still cold in the water. When should you come to the Galapagos? The climate here is temperate year-round because of its location near the equator. There is a “hot season” from December through May when humidity is higher and temperatures approach 80 degrees and there is a bit more rain. The “dry season” runs from June through November is slightly cooler and features southeast trade winds and prompt an increase in marine activity. Because of its location, the length of the Galapagos day is always just about 12 hours each day.

It wouldn’t be easy to find shelter due to the fact that 97% of the ground area here is within a protected Ecuadorian national park. First one would have to on choose upon which of the four islands to settle. Santa Cruz is the most populous: 24,000 residents. Smaller settlements exist on San Cristobal (6,000), Isabela (1,000) and Floreana (100). Since the first tourists arrived here in 1834, industry to support visitors now employs eighty percent of the population.

A bit of research, however, indicates that it is probably impossible to move here. Legally, there are three ways to become a permanent resident. 1. Be born here; 2. Marry a resident; 3. Prove you already lived here prior to 1998. (Regarding marrying a resident; if you get divorced, you have to leave the islands) You must be a permanent resident to obtain a job here. Temporary residence here is possible but only for a single year—with a possible renewal—but only when no permanent resident is available to do whatever brought you here as a temporary resident.

Tourists may stay for no longer than three months. I suspect boredom would creep in more quickly than that. There is no delivery from Amazon. Window air conditioners are state of the art rather than that new fangled central stuff. What a shirt? Fly to Guayaquil. Educate your kid? This probably won't be state of the art--unless your kid wants to be a naturalist of course. You'll probably be a regular at your restaurant of choice because there isn't much of a choice. You probably wouldn’t need a driver’s license because you probably couldn’t acquire a car. In the 1900's there were fewer than 30 vehicles here. Now there are only a few more than 1, 200.

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Recent news reports indicate that speeding is a increasing problem with 294 fatal collisions happening in an 11 day monitoring span. Those fatalities, however, were not of the human variety; the deceased were all birds hit by cars which has caused great concern here. Drivers are requested to honk if they see a bird feeding on seeds which have found their way to the driving lanes of the few roads. This bumper sticker reads: “Let the birds fly, not the cars!.”

This is a place to visit for a week and go home with great memories of the experience. I mean, c'mon. Watching one tortoise race another or pondering which marine iguana in the pile will be the first one to move? Perfect for short while but for us intolerable over a long term.. But living here puts one in a beautiful and safe place surround by, well, peace.

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Who was the first full-time resident? That would be sailor Patrick Watkins who was stranded on Floreana in 1807 when his boat was lost. “Irish Pat” was said to have consumed water from the pond which filled during rainy season and upon rum for which he traded vegetables he grew with passing sailors. Thought to be drunk most of the time, he reportedly looked the part: “a sight to behold, a beast in ragged clothing sufficient to cover his nakedness, and covered with vermin; his red hair and beard matted, his skin much burnt from constant exposure to the sun, and so wild and savage in his manner and appearance that he struck every one with horror.”
He was no dummy, though, being sufficiently sly as to be able to kidnap sailors who would then miss their ride when their own ships departed. When he had collected enough help in this manner his gang stole a boat and sailed off the Ecuadorian mainland. He reportedly arrived at Guayaquil alone (what happened to his shanghaied shipmates is unknown).

The San Cristobal Airport does, in fact, host a Priority Pass Lounge. It, hands down, takes the prize for most rude and inefficient among all the PP Lounges I have visited across the world. Called the MAGMA VIP LOUNGE, they managed to humiliate me and make me angry. I don’t anger easily, but when I do, I am loathe to forgive the slight—particularly when the woman I love is similarly insulted. Aggressively soliciting passengers to enter, they lost track of who they had processed (me) and who they had not. Once we entered the lounge itself, we were accosted because the woman processing our admittance failed to give us a card to prove we had been processed. Since I didn’t have the card she had neglected to give me, we were given the bum’s rush. A pox on their house. To be clear, my Priority Pass card was valid and they ran it on their computer and had me electronically sign in. Even once they had filled the lounge, they amazingly continued to solicit more and more people to enter. They are brazenly maximizing revenue and minimizing service.

Then, more fun. I was randomly selected for a secondary bag security check. Perfect.

The flight was uneventful and on time. Upon arrival, the Silversea staff was unorganized and inefficient. Our luggage was loaded onto the wrong truck and we were loaded onto the wrong bus. When I saw the high number of people on the two busses, it was clear that we weren't headed for the boutique hotel we were promised. I was finally able to find a Silversea staffer who would listen and, yes, we and our luggage were headed for the wrong place. Finally, we are transported by Silversea 15 minutes to the 44-room Hotel Del Parque where we are to spend the night. Forty years ago, development here meant the destruction of many of Guayaquil's historic buildings. This hotel, a hostel from the 1800's, was one worth saving so they moved it here to the banks of the Daule in the exclusive neighborhood of Samborondón. It is nothing special. We are given a handicap accessible room (nothing else was available) where the bathroom sports more bars than a Vegas casino. The restaurant advertised our favorite food: octopus. They were out of octopus--at 2:00pm. The television channels are all en español...at least until a hotel engineer arrived to change the language on the LG television set. Clearly, we are ready to be home. (We are to be in the lobby tomorrow morning at 10:30 to go back to the airport)

We will miss many of our fellow passengers aboard the Silver Origin. Originals all, they made the week more fun, more enlightening and more rewarding.

It is customary on expedition cruises for the vendor to provide a video of the week. They are professional; so much better than anything I can do. This one was made by David Padilla, Expedition Filmmaker. Email: dps812@gmail.com Instagram: @padiecuador.

If you would like to see all the Silver Origin's Daily Chronicles, they are here: https://www.scribd.com/document/580028729/SilverOrigin-Daily-Chronicles

Posted by paulej4 00:59 Archived in Ecuador

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Comments

Beautiful video! So calming. It almost made me forget about your usual transportation problems. Well worth the effort.

by Becky Pruett

Have loved all the posts. My favorite may have been Beryl and the giant tortoises!
Beautiful scenery as well.
Thanks for sharing your great trip!
Liz

by elizabethsweney

Travel safe ! Thanks for all the great videos and pics!
Love Ya,

CC & JC

by Chuckt

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