6am the next morning we were up and ready to leave for the Airport to catch our flight. We had met a lovely taxi driver Carlos the previous day and he offered to pick us up for the rest of our time in Quito and for a pretty great price so of course we agreed - thank god for WhatsApp!
After checking in at the Airport (which is a bit of a process if you are flying the Galapagos) as you have to stand in a bug queue to get a tourist visa which costs $20USD, get your bags searched and scanned and this is all before you even start the check in process - just an FYI for anyone travelling soon. We booked with Avianca as there are only 2 companies who fly here – Avianca and Tame. Both are similar in price and, generally $300NZD per person each way taking about 2 hours.
That’s when the news arrived – mum messaged, and dad’s shoulder had become much worse overnight. They were heading to the hospital with the potential of heading home depending on the diagnosis as the pain was excruciating and he couldn’t function. I was devastated, in fact that doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt, even when writing this am still in absolute bits. I have been waiting years to be able to travel with my mum and dad and to visit Galapagos with them was a dream come true. However, them flying home was and is the best thing, regardless of how much I wished they were coming here with us.
Moving past many tears and generally feeling so immensely sad, we both made it to Galapagos. Even got three seats on the flight across to spread out a little…for the 1 hour 50 mins flight. So as mentioned in my previous blogs, we are actually staying in Galapagos for 1 month – SAY WHHHAAATTT?? How can we afford it? Well, as also mentioned we are working here. We are part of a volunteer programme called work.away where we work in exchange for accommo and food, so that’s what we will be doing here. Not overall sure on the tasks but I am sure in as few hours we will.
Most travelers have heard about Galapagos and the out-of-this-world display of incredible animals and fauna which, after a five-week visit in 1835, inspired Charles Darwins’ - The Origin Of Species. By now, after David Attenborough’s – Planet Earth and Blue Planet – both covering a lot of the Galapagos islands most have probably heard incredible stories or seen pictures of the sharks and sea lions drifting through clear seas, of giant tortoises gently munching their way through green fields and blue-footed birds gliding through clear skies. Few, however, get to see it for themselves, BUT, NOT US! We have made it!
With everything that had been happening the past few days I hadn’t checked my emails and the only directions I had from our host were brief and in broken English, so we were both feeling a little apprehensive. Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, we did a little happy dance that we had finally arrived, even though it was minus my parents, then headed through immigration and quarantine. Arriving in Galapagos you must pay $100USD pp as a National park fee and then declare anything that could be a bio security risk. From there you make your way to the local bus heading to the main town of Puerto Ayora.
We knew we had to get off the bus 11kms from town and head to a ranch called Racho del Solo as from there the farm we would be staying was 200m from there. That was all the info we had - FUCK. The bus was then full, so we stood waiting hopefully that the next one would arrive when the driver yelled that he needed 2 more people to join that bus. We immediately volunteered and were split up on the bus to find the 2 empty seats. Leo got chatting to a local guide who sat next to him and was asking where this ranch was etc, when suddenly, the guide replied – what’s you name? I’m Jimmy, your work.away host. WHAT.ARE.THE.CHANCES???
Thank you, Jesus. After the sadness of the morning, life had to give us a break and it did when this happened. Suddenly, I felt happiness and a state of relief as we knew where we were heading. For anyone arriving in Baltra, you catch a bus, then a ferry then another bus so don’t panic when you think your luggage has disappeared, as from the first bus to the boat, it is moved for you. The bus, boat and bus will cost you $7USD pp - $5USD for the first bus, $1 for the ferry and $1 for the local bus into town.
After some travelling, hiking down a rugged off the beaten track path we arrived at Jimmy’s place – our home for the next month. It’s lovely here, very basic, on a beautiful farm filled with chickens, ducks, horses, 3 incredibly large, don’t know their own strength lovely dogs and after about 1 hour of research about 1 million lizards and a fuck load of spiders! WELCOME HOME ALLY & LEO.