Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We arrived to Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

This is Mike...
When we left the hacienda to come here we took nearly every mode of travel to get to the Galapagos. We drove over 100 miles to Quito. In Quito we hopped on a plane to Baltran airport where we promptly caught a bus than a ferry and crossed the canal. After the ferry, we took a taxi that lasted 40 minutes and finally reached our condo in Puerto Ayora. In total, it took 12 hours of travel to get to our condo in the Galapagos from Cotacachi, in the Andes.
Galapagos is without a doubt the crown jewel of tourism for Ecuador and has generated billions in revenue for Ecuador over the years. So you can imagine or amazement when we drove into Puerto Ayora and found it to be a run-down, beat-up, third world, in every sense of the word, town. Don't get me wrong, we are totally fine with beat-up towns, just surprised that Ecuador would allow unbridled and uncontrolled growth on their "Golden Goose" of an island.
    There is a tourist section of town that runs along Academy Bay that has nice buildings and shops that would be more typical of a tourist destination. However, once you get off the water front street you could easily be in Managua or Guatemala City with all of the dilapidated structures. Also, it is extremely expensive here so if you intend on coming to Galapagos you have to forget about a budget, you will be much happier.

  This is Elise.  May I also add that most companies don't take credit cards and those that do charge a 12% service fee.  The ATM here took $600 out of my account without giving me the cash which is frustrating and we are now disputing this with our bank back in the states.  The prices at the grocery stores are beyond ridiculous with peanut butter $13, sun screen $25, a role of paper towels $6, and so on.  On the other hand, the animals here are amazing because they aren't afraid of us at all.  We walked right up to the sea lions.  The finches ran across my feet.  The beaches are gorgeous with soft, white sand and clean turquoise water.  We are determined to see all these islands have to offer while we are here.
Disembarking the plane "old School" style.

Catching the ferry to Santa Cruz island

The girls pet the wild iguanas

The beaches are so beautiful here

The lava rock ledges drop off into the bay 

You can walk right under the pelicans

Marine iguana swimming in the ocean.

A spotted ray swimming near the surface of the water

Zoe paddling a canoe

Elise and Sierra coming in from the outer part of the bay.

Birds like hiding within the mangroves

The girls came across a sand sculpture on the beach.

Sierra found a lizard on the sand.

Beautiful crabs on the rocks.

A land iguana

Giant tortoises

A lizard on the rocks

The sea lions don't have the typical fear of humans here.

The bays are beautifully colored here

A bird diving into the water to catch fish

A face only a mother could love :)

The bay has a lot of action all day long.

We dove in the cold waters of Las Grietas

The "Real" Puerta Ayora.

A view of town from our condo.

Most of the town is shabby construction with many partially finished structures.

The tourist street is mostly empty because people are out doing tours for the day.

The tourist street is a world apart from the rest of the town.

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