Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Immediately upon arrival in Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galápagos, I spent two hours inquiring at every single agency down the main thoroughfare. I beat my previous time, found a reasonable price and a desirable itinerary, played hardball and negotiated a better deal, and I did it all entirely in Spanish. Allow me to toot my own horn here, cause I’m a little proud of myself!

What previous time? Well, the three hours I spent in Ushuaia arranging a last-minute cruise to Antarctica 10 years ago. This time, it’s a last-minute cruise around the Galápagos, a place I would have loved to visit 10 years ago but didn’t have the budget for, naturally, after that rather large expenditure.

So. While I wait for departure, what now? After all, in the Galápagos, it’s all about seeing the animals here, and that can seem somewhat inaccessible.
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Quito, Ecuador

Finish at the middle.  This is it: my final stop in South America.

I chose to end here because the place has some significance – I wanted to go from the “end of the world” (Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia) by surface transport to the middle of the world (Mitad del Mundo, Quito).  I’ve both exceeded and fallen short of this goal – exceeded, by going to Antarctica; short, by flying back to Punta Arenas, Chile (thus skipping a 12 hour bus ride between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas).  Oh well, close enough, more than enough!  I’ve travelled over 21000 km this trip (excluding the flights to and from Vancouver), over 7000 km of which was by bus.  Including the flights to/from Vancouver, I’ve travelled 40500 km, more than the circumference of the world.

But yet not enough!  It feels a bit like a cruel joke I played on myself – there’s so much more I want to see now.  Colombia, especially – and it’d be lovely to keep on going with Óscar and Silvia.  And after having my heart set on changing my flight, and then not being able to do so affordably, my original goal feels like I’m losing out on something. Continue reading

Baños, Ecuador

What a weird name.  I’ve made far too many terrible jokes, before even getting here, of “Nosotros vamos a Baños!  Ah mira, baños!  Ya estamos aqui!

“Baños” means baths.  It also means washrooms.  But this town, Baños de Agua Santa, is so named because of the thermals (hot springs) in the area…I think.  Seeing signs saying “Baños” everywhere in town is certainly confusing when you’re actually looking for a washroom. Continue reading

Cuenca, Ecuador

The final country, final days, final stretch. I really don’t want this to be over!

I’ll pick up immediately where I left off. I arrived at my hostel in Cuenca and gave some big hugs. Turns out Óscar and Silvia were already waiting for me and had made dinner! So sweet of them. And they’ve been waiting for me two days, having done virtually no sightseeing, opting to wait till I arrived.

I offhandedly mentioned to Óscar that I normally wake up at 6 now, due to a combination of strange factors. This was not the case today. Still, Óscar, thinking that I would be up by 7:30, went out and bought food, then made breakfast. I woke up at 9:30 shocked and extremely thankful for another meal prepared for me. Awwww! Continue reading