The magic started long before I arrived at my destination. Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. On my early check in I received an upgrade to first class! Never happened before in my life! Sitting in the lounge area, I watched a gorgeous young girls face as she expected a sweet juice and instead got a sour juice! Her face was the funniest thing ever. I couldn’t help but laugh! The young boy was making observations and his dad quietly told him how he appreciated his young son thinking things through and being an independent thinker. As a teacher I am always intrigued by the way parents interact with their children, as you can see the child s future written in those moments.
As I was enjoying my delicious, expensive coffee and my wicket peanut treat, free of carbohydrates and sugar, a young woman asked if she could sit in the other chair opposite me. Of course! It was Nadine, from Switzerland. Travelling on her own to Santa Cruz. No boat trip booked, neither had the young family. Good to see there are other like minded people. When landing, flying low, I saw hundreds of large fish, jumping about and one huge creature, which I was sure must have been a whale amongst hundreds of dolphins!! Magic! Just Magic!
At the first ecological airport in the world, the airport of Santa Cruz, I met my first locals. Hundred of small lizards running about. All the luggage was handled onto the grids. Smelled, and in one case pissed on, by the the K-9 unit. While waiting for the actions of the two huge dogs to finish, this couple and I laughed about the pissing dog, only cause it wasn’t pissing on our cases! The man asked where I was from, Australia, where in Australia, South Australia, where in South Australia, three hundred kilometres north of Adelaide! “Well, he finally said, then we beat you! We are from Port Lincoln!!” Instant family!! What are the changes, eh? Magic! Just Magic!
All the pre booked people were picked up by their boat companies. The rest, the plebs, had to queue up for the local bus. Entry into the Galápagos is straight forward and direct. Passport control ,you need a tourist card, for which you have paid U$20 when you checked in on the mainland. Next to the passport control sits the U$100 collector. Now I don’t know if this is the entrance fee for all the national parks, or just a general national parks maintenance fee. I am sure I will find out. Next to this money collector, stands the bus ticket seller. U$5 gets you on the bus, which I understood would go all the way to Puerto Ayora. Anyway, while standing in the bus queue, there is an obvious guide/ park ranger talking to a Japanese couple. I rudely, interrupted several times! I really needed to know if that was a whale and hundreds of dolphins I had seen on the plane! The young man was not too impressed by my pushy attitude! Although he politely answered everything I wanted to know!
On the bus I found a seat, right in front of the young family I had interacted with in Guayaquil airport! The children’s faces lit up, and we chatted for a while. I always bring about forty small koalas from the cheap shop, with me. Just to hand out to children who make me smile, or adults who are in need of kindness. Basically I am trying to change the world, using one smile at the time. I gave two little toys to this gorgeous girl and her big brother! The parents were delighted. We chatted for awhile. I did tell the boy I gave it to him as he was extremely polite to me that morning, and the little girl, because she made me laugh, with the funny faces she pulled!!
The bus trip went fast. We spotted our first large, iguana and a huge bird. The ferry cost an additional dollar and the young guide was kind enough to help me get on and to sort out the hassles with everybody’s luggage. I gave him my last koala for the day and his face lit up in delight! I told him I appreciated his, reluctant, kindness. His face was magic, just magic!
On the other side of the water another bus awaited us, another U$5 to be paid. At this rate my money will be finished before I get anywhere! The bus trip was uneventful and before I knew it I was at my pre booked hostel. I had asked for a bed near a wall in a four bed dorm! Imagine my face when I received a room with a double and one single bed in it, and a private bathroom! Since I was first in the room I picked the double bed, I was there for five nights, only once meeting one of my room mates! Would you believe she was a girl from Eindhoven? The city where I was born!
One night I was on my own, a great deal for U$15 a night! That night I Treated myself to a delicious fish meal at one of the many local restaurants, and lo and behold if I didn’t hear my name being called! It was the Swiss girl, Nadine! How lovely it is when you meet people again after you have encountered them before! Nadine joined me for dinner, and afterwards we decided to walk to the Charles Darwin research centre. Who would I meet on the way? The wonderful family I met that morning at the airport! We chatted for a while, and walked on.
Again my name was called, you wouldn’t believe it, would you? It was he lovely young guide from the bus stop with his Japanese clients. By now I had worked out that he was their private guide, and I apologised for my rude behaviours that morning. I introduced Nadine, and we agreed to meet later for a drink. The Charles Darwin research centre itself was closed but you could still walk around and see the tortoises. How excited I was! On the way back we stopped at the Ceramic garden, where we saw our first sea lion, marine lizards and many, many birds!
Jorge, the young guide I had met, wanted to shout us both a drink, as he had been given an enormous tip by his Japanese clients. Jorge wanted to give me a present too! He told me the story of his little doll, who went every where with him! A character from a famous Mexican children’s show. El Chavo del Ocho, I was reluctant to accept, but realised he wanted to give me something back. After convincing me that I had changed his day, which was a tad blue, I accepted. A lovely evening was had by the three of us. At nine o’clock I had to declare defeat, and excused myself and left the two young people alone, to go and have a well deserved sleep! What a day it had been! New friends, tortoises, sea lions and marine iguanas! Magic, pure magic!
Feature photograph by Nadine Alltweg