I’m going to attempt to tell you some more about Ecuador now, but I confess: all the wonderful flights, boat trips, snorkeling excursions, wildlife, beaches, shopping, food, hotels and experiences are running together in my mind like a Monet. I’ve been working on a draft on and off for a few days, and had to delete the whole thing due to inaccuracies and unintelligible rantings. So I’m going to try again.

But first, a llama.

Isn’t he delightful?

After two nights in Quito (check last blog entry), the 25 of us, 6 adults and 19 kids, arose around 6am, with sleepy seeds still stuck in our eyeballs. I’m sure we had a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit juices, eggs, pastries, fried plantains, potatoes prepared every which way, and strong coffee.

To get our energies flowing, we danced a little indigenous dance in the ballroom at our hotel with our guide, Wilson.

Here he is teaching us about a northern native dance.

And here, a dance from the southern part of the country. I might have those reversed.

We took a small bus back to the airport, an hour outside the city, and hopped our flight, which was supposed to occur in two parts, but it’s the islands! Plans change. This time, the change was to our benefit — a DIRECT flight to Santa Cruz with no layover!

Here we are awaiting our flight.

…and by the time we arrived we were all YAHOO for island living, having flown for two hours or so in that magic space where we couldn’t tell where sky ended and water began. This is absolutely one of my most favorite sights on earth, so far. Blue for days.

Upon arriving in Baltra, one of two islands in the Galapagos with a place to land an airplane, we took a five minute boat ride to Santa Cruz, where we met our local guides Cesar and Patricio,or Pato,who were friendly and knowledgeable, and who piled us onto a bus, taking us to a giant tortoise reserve. Hundreds of acres of heaven for the gargantuan kings.

There was this.

And this. Eating guava. 

And this. These divine creatures completely took my breath away with their size and stature, indeed their presence on the planet. The giant tortoises are everything I’d hoped they’d be. Astounding.

My niece, Zoe, and her new friend.

At the end of our tour of the reserve, we ate hot cheese empanadas. And were happy. 

You can see here just how happy as we gathered into our little bus van thing and prepared to go.

So much more pleasant than at 6am, myself included. The tortoises brought pure joy.

Back in town we had dinner, and then went to the pier, from which we watched dozens of sharks, and visited with a few sea lions who live there. We stayed out well into the evening enjoying this sea life and also doing a little shopping.

Our crew at the pier.

Shopping took all the energy I had left. I only speak for myself when I say I was asleep well before I closed my eyes on this night. It was a day full of new adventure in a mesmerizing place, surrounded by animals and vegetation unique to the Galapagos. Special indeed.

This is a view of the gorgeous street of little shops. See the merch for The Blue Footed Boobies? About which, more later.