13th August – Saturday
We had to be at the airport by 7.30, so we left El Cafecito at just gone seven. Again we had left some baggage behind, including our boots. Our laundry wasn’t dry, so we took it with us to dry in the Galápagos. By this time I had realised that I’d left my sunglasses in the Yuturi lodge, so I asked Tony if he’d endeavour to get them back for me. I didn’t really think there would be much chance of ever seeing them, or through them, again.
We hailed a taxi on the corner next to the hostel. As it came towards us I said “Oh no!”. The car itself was in a bad way and the driver hit his wheel on the high kerb as he pulled up next to us. I had an awful feeling that we were encountering another crazy cab driver. My feeling proved to be correct.
He put the music on loud and we asked him to turn it down. Dad sat in the front and Oli and I sat in the back. The driver was looking at us as he spoke, not where he was driving, so we had to keep diverting his attention back to the road. At one stage he put his foot down to the floor and accelerated towards a car parked on the right from which three people had just alighted. There was a taxi to our left. We all shouted “No!” at the tops of our voices. His reaction was to accelerate even more, cutting up the taxi to our left and narrowly missing the pedestrians. He swerved violently away from the central reservation, which was about one foot high. I thought that the car was going to turn over. We made him pull over to the side. I stayed in the back, telling the others to take the bags out of the boot. The driver demanded a fare. We gave the driver S/-3000 and told him to go.
Another, more presentable taxi soon pulled up and took us, safely, to the airport for
S/-5000. It took us two or three hours to get over our nightmare journey.
We breakfasted at Tropiburger at the airport once we had booked in. The breakfast was horrible but Oli spotted a woman who he really liked. She got on the same flight as us and sat opposite to Oli and me. When we arrived at Guayaquíl and went into the transit lounge, Oli’s friend went out through to arrivals, much to the disappointment of my brother.
During the 40 minute stopover at Guayaquíl I started chatting to the Thompsons. They were a very nice couple from Washington State who were embarking on their third Earthwatch project. The project involved investigating Katydids in Peru. On the way they were passing some time in Ecuador.
We arrived at the airport on Isla Baltra and queued to pay our US$ 80 entry fees and S/-15000 tax. About an hour later we were on a 5 minute bus trip to the ferry. The S/-2000 fare took us across the runway and down a dusty lava hill. The S/-1000 ferry trip was about the same distance as Mull to Iona. There were some enthusiastic English ornithologists on board who were intent on making fools of themselves by crying out such things as “Did you see that flightless cormorant fly past?” We saw some blue footed boobies and some frigate birds.
The bus trip from the arid north of Isla Santa Cruz down to Puerto Ayura in the lush south of the island took about one hour on a very bumpy road. We saw lots of cattle egrets. On arrival at Puerto Ayura we went in search of accommodation and found perfect lodgings at Hotel Sol y Mar which was run by Jimmy Perez (aged 85½ at the time). It was S/-31000 per night for a triple room.
Before we’d left Quito, Oli had said that his trip to the Galápagos would be complete if he could see a marine iguana. As we checked in, there were two of them sitting on the patio watching us! We soon had our stuff unpacked and our washing out to dry. The two maids took an instant shine to Oli and me but the feeling was definitely not mutual.
By this time we were quite hungry so, after a quick look around town, we settled for a toasted cheese sandwich and some fruit juice. The Darwin Centre and Tortoise Sanctuary was next on the agenda. We saw the baby tortoises and walked amongst some of the larger specimens. There were lots of finches and lava lizards around.
The souvenir shops were very interesting. All of them sold T-shirts, some sold lousy carvings and there were some brilliant books of photographs.
In the evening we ate cod at the Sol y Mar and had a walk around town followed by a nightcap (Amoretto) at Las Cuatro Lantinas. Dad and I had never experienced this liqueur until Oli introduced us to it. It was wonderful and we felt compelled to try another. Thanks Bro!