Organized soup to nuts by Gina’s uncle’s childhood friend Jaime Burbano de Lara (always use the full name!) who owns the travel agency Mundovision (it pays to have married a Cuban when traveling in South America, there’s always a cousin or a friend of a friend somewhere), we were wonderfully taken care off from the time of departure, an earlier-than-hoped 8:30 am, two and a half hours ahead of which we needed to be at the airport for reasons of congestion after the hour-long drive hence making for a wake-up time of 3:30am. Did I mention that was way too early? Ok, good, let’s move on…

Upon planning this legendary excursion, we were given the choice to stay and live on one of the islands or sail around them for a few days. Choose the cruise, any day. The towns on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal are lovely enough but are engulfed by souvenir shops and day-trip dealers which do not properly show the wide day-to-day breadth of this historical paradise and you might end up feeling trapped in. Out of the many options, we selected to travel on the Isabela 2, a 40-cabin, recently refurbished vessel which would become our surprisingly comfortable home for the next 5 days as we discovered the origins of our species.

That is when we met the rigorous Cathy, who would be our guide through this adventure, welcoming us at the airport, explaining with military verve every minute of the day ahead. Our luggage disappeared as soon as we collected them from the non-belt at this tiny airport and we were told that they would be placed in each of our cabins on the ship without us moving a finger, magic! We would board it ourselves that evening at 6pm but it was only 10am so what were we going to do on land between now and then? Tortoises, giant tortoises, the largest in the world, 250-pounders. We were going to visit with them and make friends with the prehistoric creatures. Picture us smiling from ear to ear…




So unafraid of humans they were, as we later discovered are most critters on Galápagos since they have been treated with respect by those who dare foul its soil, that it was mind-bogglingly surreal to walk among them. Our puny brains did not yet realize that we were not within the confines of a zoo or circus, but walking freely in nature, that we were indeed the trespassers on this, their land. Moving from area to area, from bush to bush, swamp to swamp, we discovered more and more of them, grazing on the abundant grass, barely registering that we, a bunch of weirdly colored bipeds, had arrived to over-populate our Facebook statuses with photos of them. As correctly assessed by a 16th century envoy of the Spanish crown, “you could sit a grown man on each one” and only Cathy’s watchful eye kept me from sneaking Leeloo on top of a particularly large individual in a worthy attempt at the Newsfeed crown.



Oh look, empty shells! So cute…


Also, not so cute…


A few hours went by, unbeknownst to us because we were having so much fun but it was soon time to join our luggage, presumably already having the time of its life on the Isabela. Bus-bound, we reached the shore…


…about to board the floating hotel…



…where Ecuadorian Dramamine was waiting by the bowl-ful…


Thank god.

3 Comments Leave a reply

  1. Karen Stewart
    Permalink to comment#

    It was such a pleasure to meet you and your family on the Isabela 2. We are enjoying your descriptive blog and great pictures! Safe travels as your adventure continues. We’ll continue to check in and see where and how you’re doing.

  2. ceddars
    Permalink to comment#

    Leeloo does it better. Where’s Gisele?

  3. Sebastien
    Permalink to comment#

    Not so cute… How indelicate! So Gisele can come up her own new tortoiseshell effect and the internet goes nuts but I can’t. Ok…


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