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Ecuador

Updated Dec. 09, 2006......................................................................................

Ecuador

11/27/06—Cusco to Quito

It was another travel day. These days are really not fun. I’d definitely do them again so that we could have the adventures that we’ve had, but they’re the worst part of traveling. We left the hotel at 6:00 am to catch our flight. Annette was tough on the flights because she was really tired—we really need to make up for the lack of sleep we’ve had in Peru. We arrived at the hotel in Quito around 2:00 pm, so we were able to get the girls to take a nap. The rest of the day, we hung around the hotel. We’re really not planning to do anything in Quito except get ready for our week in Galapagos in a couple of days.

11/28/06—Quito

We spent the day doing a couple of errands—getting some last minute things that we need for the trip and doing some laundry, and catching up on some sleep. We really needed a day like this since we did so much in Peru.

11/29/06—Galapagos—Day 1

We left the hotel at 6:00 am to catch a flight to the Galapagos. When we arrived, the boat company met us at the airport and coordinated all the paperwork and the baggage transfer to the boat. They’re really a first class operation.

The SS Mary Anne is incredible. We were supposed to go on the Sagitta, but for some reason, we got transferred to the Mary Anne, which was a really nice upgrade. The Mary Anne is almost double the length at 177 feet, but it only accommodates 16 guests, so we’ve got plenty of room. Because it’s such a small group, we were able to get to know everyone’s name immediately. Everyone is really nice and they’re terrific with the kids. The kids were so excited to be there, they were really good, and everyone commented on how well behaved they are. Now the challenge is to keep them that perfect for a whole week. That will be tough with limited sleep.

In the afternoon, we went to South Plaza Island where we saw sea lions, iguanas, and some really cool cactus plants. I didn’t realize how arid the islands were. The girls behaved perfectly on the hike and at dinner, but I put them to bed right after dinner since they’re so over-stimulated right now.

kids life vests
iguanna

11/30/06—Galapagos—Day 2

Fortunately the girls had a great sleep last night, but I didn’t. There was a lot of rocking and engine noise—I hope I can get used to that or I’m going to get back to the U.S. with some big bags under my eyes.

This morning we took the dingy to a beach where there were a lot of sea lions lying around. The kids made sand castles next to the sea lions, and when the sun came out, the sea lions waddled past to get to the colder wet sand. Darren and the girls and some of the rest of the group even went swimming with the sea lions. What a unique experience. In the afternoon, we went to Española Island where we saw more marine iguanas and sea lions, and our first sighting of Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies. The kids laughed a lot just because of the name, but then we also got to see an Albatross mating dance, which was really funny, so the kids had a great time. I’m not much of a bird lover, but it was really cool to see such unique birds so close.

Annette seal waddle
blue footed boobies
albatrose dance

12/01/06—Galapagos—Day 3

We went to see the Galapagos Giant Tortoises today. They were really big but they didn’t do too much, so after seeing them for a few minutes, I was ready to move on. We also visited a breeding station where we saw dozens of young tortoises which were a little more lively, but again, after a few minutes, I was ready to move on. The island had a little town with a play ground, so the girls played for a while before we got back on the boat.

12/02/06—Galapagos—Day 4

We visited North Seymour Island today where we saw some male Frigatebirds displaying their red pouches for mating—that was really cool. We also saw sea lions, iguanas and other birds, but we’re seeing them on every island. The hike was 8:30- 10:00 am, but it was really sunny with no shade, so it was really hot. I didn’t realize how barren most of the islands are. It felt good to get back to the boat to cool off. We decided to skip the afternoon hike since it started at 1:00 pm, so we hung out on the boat for the rest of the afternoon.

frigatebird

12/03/06—Galapagos—Day 5

We visited Genovesa Island today. We could see the marks turtles have made to bury their eggs, but we saw no turtles. On the way back, we saw some little penguins swimming, although their so little, they look like ducks. In the afternoon we went to a different part of the island and saw the Flightless Cormorants with their odd little wings. The island also has a mangrove area—it’s really amazing to see how different each island is.

Annette nest
penguin hunt
cormorant

12/04/06—Galapagos—Day 6

We went on shore to Santiago Island this morning and saw some amazing black lava rocks and some fur seals. Darren tried to take the girls snorkeling but it didn’t last very long, so they played on the black sand beach for a while. The people who did snorkel saw turtles, sea lions, sharks, sting rays and lots of fish. It was too cold for me so I stayed on the beach and watch the sea lions. In the afternoon, Dominique and I went for a short hike while Darren and Annette relaxed on the boat. The island was volcanic and we didn’t see many animals, but it was nice to get a bit of exercise.

crabhunt

12/05/06—Galapagos—Day 7

We went for a hike on a lava field this morning. The lava field was completely barren—no plants or animals, but it was cool to see the patterns that the lava flows made. Darren and Dominique went snorkeling—they some fish and many of the others also saw penguins. We also saw a hammer head shark and a turtle from the boat—there’s so much to see underwater. In the afternoon, Dominique and I hiked to the top of one of the volcanic islands while Darren and Annette hung out on the boat. The island was barren but we had a good view of some of the other islands.

Annette lava
Dominique lava
Annette Anya
Dom_Mary Anne

12/06/06—Quito

It was a travel day for us today. We left the boat around 8:30 am to catch the plane back to Quito. In the evening we had dinner with some of the Mary Anne passengers who were staying and lived in Quito. We had such a great group on board, it was nice to have one more chance to get together. All in all, the trip was great, and the people really made it special.

12/07/06—Otavalo

We took a tour of the country side today and went to the Otavalo market. The market had the same things for sale that we saw in Peru, so we didn’t get anything except for a couple more finger puppets for the girls. We stopped at the Middle of the Earth to see where the Equator crosses, which was very unimpressive. We stopped at a family business where they make tiny, intricate ornaments out of dough, which was very impressive. We also stopped at a weaver’s showroom to see them making some really good tapestries and woolen products by hand. Overall, it was a long day out and we didn’t see anything more than we’d already seen in Peru, so we could have skipped the tour, but it was good to see the country side. We spent the rest of the evening back at the hotel to have an early night’s sleep since we have our last travel day tomorrow—a 5:00 am departure from the hotel. So we’re ending the trip with some great memories and some wonderful friends that we’ve met along the way. It really has been an incredible experience.

happy ending_darren & nicky

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