Guayaquil, Ecuador and then on Home. Saturday, January 28, 2017

We wake up, have breakfast and Steve says a quick goodbye to the iguana statue in the lobby of the hotel. Good thing we didn’t have room in the luggage or Steve would have brought it home! Although I would rather have him than a Moai!

Since this will be a short post, I thought that I would let you see pictures of our upgraded room at the Oro Verde hotel.

We got our room key and were directed to a different set of elevators then on our last visit here. We got a junior suite this time! The living room.

Half bath off the living room.

The bedroom. Unfortunately it was the same hard Ecuadorian bed!

Main bathroom sink area. Separate doors for bath and shower.

Lots of closet space, and lots of room to change in!

View of the living room from the bedroom. I was mucho pleased with the room!

In our hotel there was a lovely jewelry store. The only purchases that I made on the trip were a sunhat, my Pattagucci jacket and a woven top for our daughter S.

It’s early morning and not many people are out and about yet. This one way street is eight lanes across!

We drove past the massive mausoleums.

We saw this lady in the traditional dress of Ecuador. Notice the black hat. The airport was the only place that we saw people in traditional clothes. Her people are called Chola Cuencana. Please don’t ask me to pronounce that!

If you are planning a trip to The Galapagos, do it before 2020. A new airport is being built here in Guayaquil. The current airport is with in the city limits. It took us only 10 minutes to get to the airport from our hotel. The new airport is going to be an hour away!

We didn’t have a Dream Liner going back to the United States, so no magic ceiling color changes!

Not sure when we will be in South America again, I just hope that next time we won’t be this much under water!

Good-bye Guayaquil and the rest of South America!

A fun fact to know. Many Ecuadorians name their children after American Presidents. I already mentioned our new friend Washington in an earlier blog post. Our guide this morning to the airport was named Jefferson. Lorena, our guide from yesterday, told us that Phillips Magnesia is also a common name. Guess what name has become very popular for a baby name? Trump!

Hello airline breakfast.

Hello Panama!

Do you think that these boats are heading to the canal?

Hello Cuba!

Lunch on the plane, no cookies, no dessert!

Boats heading into they New York City Harbor.

Some big estates near Woodmere Country Club on Long Island. Dues are around $15,000 per year if you want to join. I have no idea what the initiation fee is. You are going to have to find out that information on your own. I can’t be expected to know everything, can I?

Once we got home we found out that the boiler in the house had stopped working on our trip. We were very lucky that the temperature in the house had only gotten down to 47 F, and the pipes didn’t freeze! The furnace was only a few years old! We called up the installer and they quickly came to fix it. Since then we have installed Nest thermostats in the house, that have wifi capability so we can always check the temperature. I can only hope that the wifi is connected to the generator so if the power goes out we can still find out the temperature. Unfortunately if the cable goes out due to a storm we are SOL!

The steam is from Steve making dinner. This is what happens when you boil water in a house that is 47 degrees F! The room has warmed up to 51 F now that the repair man came! We usually don’t leave the house in that shape when we leave for a trip! I hope that you enjoyed our first trip to South America!

Did you enjoy traveling to South America with us?

What is the lowest temperature your house has ever been?

Would you name your child Trump?

Bonus question: Do you expect me to know everything?

Galápagos Islands and then on to Guayaquil Ecuador. Friday January 27, 2017

We go up to the Dining room for breakfast and what do we see on the coveted table? Success! The staff reserved our table for us on our last day! Even Steve looks happy at my triumph!

The manager told me was going to talk to staff about dining room policies. We said it would be good if they had more round tables. These were the only chairs that were comfortable for Steve also. As Steve was so tall, he had problems fitting his knees under the tables!

It is amazing how little things make me happy! Chocolate on my pillow at a hotel and a reserved sign with my name on it at the best table in the house! I almost wanted to take the sign with us!

Last night we were all packed and sitting around reading in bed after dinner when we realized the air conditioner didn’t seem to be working properly. It would cool a little and then shut down after an hour. Then I would turn it back on. This happened all night long. Finally it stopped working at 4 a.m. It sure did get hot in that room! It was easy to wake up in the morning, we were tired of being hot!

Let’s hope we have better luck in Guayaquil tonight. Then we will be on an airplane and soon we will be home sweet home!

Orange shirt, blue hat was not happy that we had the outside table! She gave me quite the stink eye as she walked by.

Now you might wonder why we didn’t ask to get our room changed last night. We thought that they only had a number of rooms with working equipment. Mr. And Mrs. J were supposed to be in the casitas, but they had no TV or hot water for 24 hours and were then upgraded to a villa. I have no idea if our TV worked as we never turned it on!

On the way to the airport I noted two bags. When I was little I used to get gold nugget bubble gum. Tiny yellow guy pieces were packed in small draw string bags. I think that they contained coffee and were supposed to be given to us as gifts. We never got them, so maybe they were to be brought home to Mrs. Taxi Driver!

So now we have left the highlands and are heading toward the lowlands. Vegetation is getting more sparse, with the land more arid, although there is still some green.

The familiar islands in the distance.

The boats in the harbor where we will pick up the ferry to Baltra where the airport is. The main harbor is in Puerto Ayaro.

Steve is ready to start the trip home. I had checked out mentally a few days ago. We agreed to limit trips to no more than 21 days.

Off in the distance you can see the highland on Santa Cruz Island. This is where we stayed. Most of the lowlands is part of the national park.

Here are the remains of a building that used to be part of a United States Base during World War II.

It was very dry here. The bus had to stop many times on the way from the ferry to the airport for iguanas that were trying to cross the road.

These green things are the planting of prickly pear cacti.

It’s not a big airport.

Remember about how I was wondering if I had people that I might dislike on a cruise? At the airport today we met a gentleman who had just been on a cruise. He said they had several people on his cruise who were always late! That would drive me nuts, or at least a bit more nutty than I already am!

No red footed boobies for sale in the gift shop at the airport, but they did have penguins!

Our plane was delayed so every one got a snack as compensation.

It was strange to see 0 latitude!

Good-bye Galapagos. We are not sure if we will ever go on a cruise. Steve and I have both agreed that we have never been on a boat where we hadn’t wanted to disembark before they let us! Although Steve does enjoy being on his boat, I only like it when the weather is just right, not too hot, just the right breeze and low humidity.

Our flight path.

We did get another snack on the flight. Some of the people worried that as they had gotten one snack already they wouldn’t get the regular snack!

We saw this billboard at the airport. This will be our hotel for the night. We stayed here the night before we left to go to the Galapagos. Many of the flight crews stay here. Last time at breakfast the KLM air crew had a table reserved for them. I didn’t begrudge them as it was a table just like all the others, just reserved for them.

This statue is of Guayas, the ruler the city is named after.

Beyond the fence is the grave yard. As Guayaquil is at sea level and the river floods often the graves are in above ground mausoleums. They can be used four times, then you must pay again.

Here we are at the flower market. It is conveniently located next to the cemetery.

You can also get beautiful arrangements for a candle lit dinner party.

Ecuador is the number one place for rose growing. There are huge farms up on the slopes of the Andes where flowers are grown for export. The weather there is cool and misty. Labor is also very inexpensive. Although England is famous for its roses, it can’t beat long stemmed Ecuadorian roses.

Quinceanera parties, baptisms, first communions, you come here.

The roses that don’t qualify for export are sold here. Usually it is because they are a little too ripe for export. It was a good thing we didn’t get out of the car, I would have spent hours examining all the arrangements. Our guide Lorena told me that she takes guests on trips to the rose farms. She also takes people to banana plantations.

Here is a statue given to the city of Guayaquil by the French.

I’m not sure what she is doing up there, but she looks graceful!

There was a big fire during the turn of the 20th century. These buildings reflect the French influence.

This was a former chocolate trader’s house. The chocolate business was on the main floor and the family lived above. The French loved chocolate. There is much French influence in the architecture of the city.

University of the Arts.

This seal represents Ecuador. From the Andes to the sea.

Here is a statue of Guayas and his wife Quil. When his city was conquered, he killed his son, wife and himself to prevent capture by the Spaniards when his city was doomed. Guayaquil was named after both of them.

The clock tower on the Promenade. It has an Arabic Byzantine dome. A levee has been built to prevent flooding.

Una Via. One Way. Simple things like this make me so happy. That and no table hogging!

Here is the plaza in honor of Simon Bolivar. Bolivar and San Martin freed Ecuador from Spanish rule in the early 19th century.

The Cathedral for Guayaquil is in the background. It was modeled after Norte Dame. It seems the Ecuadorians liked the French better than the Spanish. Our guide Duncan in the Galápagos told me that the Ecuadorians think the accent of Spanish people is too harsh!

This is a banyan tree, it has interesting roots.

This park is famous for its iguanas.

It was almost like Jurassic Park.

Except with pigeons also!

Marching on the ground!

Or up in the trees!

Or even sleeping off a hangover!

Iguanas, pigeons, oh my! It was just the greatest!

There were vendors selling food for the pigeons and iguanas.

Of course there was a sign saying that it wasn’t permitted, but many people just seemed to ignore the prohibition.

You looking at me?

There were snapping turtles.

We were told the fish were tilapia. They looked like carp or koi.

This is Saint Narcissa, the first Saint of Ecuador. Her dress reminds me of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz!

There was an earthquake in 2015. There was much damage to the altar and ceiling. Chile has lots of earthquakes, Ecuador not so many. As it was the first bad earthquake in 300 years, it was a pretty big deal.

Pope John Paul I asked Cardinal Ratzinger to visit Guayaquil in 1978. He later became Pope Benedict XVI.

The clock tower again from the other side.

This statue is made of teak. The promenade was built to prevent the river overflow and flooding of the city.

This is a yellow mango tree.

This is a yellow mango tree.

This tree had red mangos. They are called blood mangos!

Here was a heron that was in the tree.

This is Steve and Lorena, she had no trouble finding us in a crowd. She only had to look up. When he took the kids to Disney World our daughter said she never had problems finding us in a crowd as we were so much taller than many of the guests!

There was an amusement park at the other end of the promenade.

Lorena is telling Steve about the rubber trees. I’m still thinking about the Iguanas!

The statue to honor Bolivar and San Martin.

Everyone wanted to get their picture taken in front of the festive Guayaquil sign.

A view of the Andes across from the promenade.

The plaza was named in honor of Ecuador’s independence from Spain on October 9.

Another old chocolate house.

Off to the market where we can see many dollar stores. Many stores and much selection. Lorena had her eye on a beautiful white dress in the window. Steve may or may not have been looking at the brassieres.

Lots of people were wearing yellow jerseys to support the local soccer team that won the day before.

This store sold bras. I am sure that Steve’s eyes were looking elsewhere.

Next we shall drive to the colorful shanty town on the hill.

We could walk 300 steps up behind the wooden barrier. Let’s not and say we did!

The homes were given money for the outsides to be gaily painted.

We had some view of the city. There are 14 million people who live in Ecuador. Three million live in Guayaquil. There aren’t many high rises so the city is spread out. How many of you have heard of Guayaquil before my lessons ?

These people represent one of the 10 political parties who are vying in the coming election.

We invited our guide Lorena to have dinner with us. Her choice was Lo Nestro, which means “our thing” in Spanish. Most restaurants in South America don’t grow a crowd until after 8 pm.

We were early diners, the place was packed when we left. There were family graduation celebrations, with young graduates in formal gowns. Tourists like us too! It was the best restaurant in town.

At dinner Lorena told us if you sneeze three times in a row you wish for health, wealth and good luck. If you sneeze four times in a row, you are also wished good sex!

To go along with the bread we were given two spreads. A cheese spread was on the left and a spicy one on the right. The cheese spread looked like mayonnaise.

The bartender made me an Ecuadorian Pisco Sour. Traditionally only Peruvians, and Chileans drink Pisco Sours. So don’t be a fool like me and order a Pisco Sour in the wrong country!

A display of their specials.

I had the fried flounder and fettuccini with carbonara sauce. I didn’t think it was an Ecuadorian dish, but Lorena told me it was.

Steve had the spicy sea bass with garlicky linguini. You’d swear we were in an Italian restaurant. Steve said the fish was really tilapia.

At dinner we sat at the table on the right. The people sitting to the left were on our flight from the Galápagos. The photos and the memorabilia were from Julio Jaramillo Laurido. He was a famous Ecuadorian singer and was quite the ladies man. He fathered 40 children with 10 ladies. He must have been quite the crooner!

Here is a link to one of his songs from YouTube. https://youtu.be/3kvEKW6bSwI

No room for dessert but here was the cart on the way out of the restaurant.

Are you a table hog?

Would you have bought food for the Iguanas or Pigeons?

Do you believe all underwear should be white, black or nude?

Do you call the top part of women’s underwear bras or brassieres?

Seymour Norte and Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador Thursday January 26, 2017

We got to breakfast and saw that the covered outside table was once again reserved for the J Party. Did they arrange this when they checked in that they would get this table for all their meals?

We headed indoors, and one of the nice members of the group asked us if we wanted to sit outside as we hadn’t had breakfast there yet. So we did, and I thought better of some of the members of the J group. Later when the rest of the group got to the dining room, there were a few glares in my direction. So I have since decided to forgive the group, even after getting a stink eye from some of them. I wish them a lifetime of happiness and I do not wish digestive issues on them anymore! How magnanimous of me! It really was a lovely spot for breakfast.

After breakfast we walked to the bus stop where we would be picked up for our last full day in the Galapagos.

These are the castitas, where some of the J party stayed in. Two of the group ended up getting their rooms moved as they had no hot water in their room and were moved to one of the villas, like ours. I was not sure if they got the Presidential villa or not!

The professional pictures used a much better camera angle!

We loaded into the van and were off for another action packed day with Natalie, The J group and the rest of the gang on the Sea Finch! We had some new people on the cruise also. Today we hoped to see some sea lions, marine iguanas, on Seymour Norte (or North Seymour!), and in the afternoon go swimming on a beach on Santa Cruz.

Here is Steve in his spot on the boat. Bags on the right were tossed there the J foursome. They sat there maybe an hour on our seven hour trip. My bag is behind Steve. The cushions were very wet, so I sat on the bag most of the time.

I am all bundled up for another day in the Galapagos. Could you tell it was me? Many people had gloves on also to prevent sun damage. Having a shirt a couple of sizes too big, really helped in trying to create a breeze. I wore a buff that Steve uses bonefishing in the Bahamas. My shirt was one of Elliott’s .

We are off. The hatch in front is for the crew below who were working below making lunches and stuff. I was never sure how many crew there were. The guy working the Zodiac was wearing a hat, buff and glasses. I couldn’t tell if he was the man making our lunch! Were they the same person or not?

Steve is enjoying the view. He always has a good attitude when we are traveling. I would say with confidence that he would be an excellent companion if you were looking for a traveling partner. However you must tolerate your traveling companion going off fishing at times!

This is Mr. J. He did know about cameras, scuba diving and snorkeling. In fact, we learned about full face snorkeling masks through him and his wife. They were using them, and they worked well. We ended up buying them for our trip to the Maldives in January 2018. If you want to, you can reread those blog posts. Or not.

Now even though I have forgiven them, I still get to report on their behavior on the trip!

Looks like I could still get a sunburn on the bridge of my nose and the v of my neck. I had Sally’s Go-Pro on. We won’t know until I get back if I got any good video. I think the device would be really good for skiing and riding down hill on a dirt bike. Possibly fishing, but your would probably have a lot of wasted film. It’s kind of hard to remember to turn it on if you have a fish on.

It is two years after this trip and we have still not reviewed our Go-Pro video. That is a terrible turn around time!

Here are two blue footed boobies. We never got to see any of the red footed ones. A disadvantage of doing the land based tours is that you only get to a few of the islands. We were unable to see penguins, red footed boobies, and the flightless cormorants. There are two loops for the sea based tours also, so even if you were to go for a week, you might see only half the islands!

We did see a swallow tail gull. It is the only nocturnal gull.

Another blue footed booby! People just love saying booby! Especially our guide, Nadine who sounded like Inspector Clouseau. Our guide Lorena, from Guayaquil, told us when Hooter’s opened, they were offering the waitresses $1000 to get breast implants.

Here is the famous frigate bird with his red breast all puffed out, trying to attract the female sitting next to him in the tree.

Here we see two frigate birds sitting in a tree. No, they are not k-i-s-s-i-n-g! The bird on the left is the male, “pooch”, and the all black female is on the right. The frigate bird is also called the pirate bird as they steal food from other birds mid flight!

Here is a land iguana sitting in the shade of the prickly pear cactus. Can you find him? It was very hot on our excursions. Island excursions for those staying in boats, usually went out 8-10 am and then 4-6 pm. Those that stayed at hotels and then went out on boats were on the islands from 10-2 pm. This was the hottest part of the day. During this time boat based excursions would rest or snorkel and swim.

Here is a land iguana. The sea iguana can stay under water for over an hour!

Can you see the birds in the nest?

A better view.

This is a dead bird. Unfortunately they don’t all survive. Survival of the fittest.

Another land iguana. Not as yellow as the one I had shown you previously.

These are abandoned nests of the boobies. The white rings are guano (poop). The boobies were done nesting.

Two frigate chicks in the nest.

Again, the closeup. The bird on the left is older than the bird on the right.

Here is a video of the frigate birds flying and soaring around. At times you could see the red pouch filled with air. Or as Natalie would say “pooch”! She told us that sometimes the birds can even sleep when they fly!

Another blue footed booby. Below, is a picture taken by a professional with a better lens.

We will have to come back and see the other islands and the animals that we missed. We would have to do a cruise, and get the transdermal patch to prevent sea sickness. However what will I do if I am surrounded by people on the boat that annoy me? I just have to blog about them!

The rock on the left looked like a popular spot for birds to poop on. It was interesting to see how the powerful surf both flattened and stacked the rocks!

The water was a gorgeous blue. The island on the right is called Gordon Rocks. We thought it was Gordon Ricks due to Natalie’s accent. It is a favorite scuba diving spot. The diving here is supposed to be good, but very expensive. As Steve and I don’t dive I couldn’t tell you if this is true.

Another dead bird carcass. This one was picked clean.

The brown blob center top is a sea lion!

Here is the Alpha Sea Lion patrolling the beach. He is looking out for sharks who might want to eat the sea lion pups.

The alpha male, sea lion!

Can you spy the iguana?

There he is!

One last shot of a sea lion frolicking near our approaching Zodiac. You might wonder why he has a white belly. I thought that it blended in with the guano on the rocks. Steve says it is to blend in with the sky when you look at them from below in the water. I think Steve is correct. He sometimes is, you know!

You can see orange shirt in my picture. I should have cropped her out, but I have more fun making nasty comments about her, trying to hog into my life!

Great crashing surf. We had trouble landing due to the surge. One elderly gentleman on our group had difficulty getting in and out of the boat so he didn’t go on our afternoon expedition to the beach.

Long whiskers, little ears, strong flippers and muscular bodies on the sea lion. Hmm. Reminds me of Steve when he had his beard! Except Steve has body appropriately sized arms and hands!

The snorkeling group was ready for their adventure. Nadine in the bikini has an amazing body. You could have one too if you snorkeled, swam and hiked every day! That, and genetics also. The man on the left was wearing a bathing suit, it was just riding low! Mrs. J was wearing a pink hat, and Mr. J had on a tan hat and a snorkel shirt.

You can see one snorkeler here, the rest were in the area. The Zodiac boat would stay close, you only had to signal and the driver would come and get you. This time I elected to stay on the boat and out of the sun. I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman who teaches reading for people with dyslexia. He was brought on an all expensive paid trip here to teach a young boy whose parents run a tented eco lodge on Santa Cruz Island.

Lunch was a buffet. Chicken, rice, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and I think apple slices. Sometimes they tasted like apples, and sometimes not. It was amazing how much of an appetite we worked up hiking in the sun. The hikes were about 90 minutes, with plenty of stops to admire the wild life. Just no shade! No parasols or selfie sticks are allowed in the parks of the Galápagos.

Carrot cake for dessert.

We have now taken the Zodiac and landed at on Santa Cruz Island. We will take a hike and then go for a swim at Las Bachas Beach.

This is called a wet landing because you do get wet!

Here is Nadine holding an empty carcass of a Sally Lightfoot Crab that had discarded its old shell. You can see the human body on the right that also needs some shedding.

In this area, sea turtles lay their eggs. We didn’t see any sea turtles on land today.

The vertical lines near the shrubbery are iguana tail prints.

A sea turtle swimming.

This is a marine iguana. You can tell the difference because this guy has spines on his back.

This is a brackish pond. There is a pink flamingo in the back, but he was hard to see. There was only one at the pond today.

The iguanas were so much fun to watch!

Some of the marine iguanas and land iguana mate on Santa Clara Island. However the offspring die before they reach sexual maturity. We did not go to Santa Clara.

Aren’t we cuties? The people from the hotel that I dislike were going on a one week catamaran cruise with 16 people and then a 2 week tour of Peru. Not sure if I could travel for a month with anyone. I tolerate Steve but then we have been going out for 40 years. The anniversary of our first date is February 5. We went to see Family Plot, an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I can tell you that I wore jeans and a Huk-A-Poo shirt as that is all that I wore back then. Plus my brown shit kicker boots.

Here is the group swimming in the ocean and an incoming frigate bird. Would you believe that no one on our trip was pooped on by a bird?

Steve keeping his glasses on and his head above water. He said that there were very strong currents. I sat on the beach in water up to my waist, until a big wave came. I think that I brought many small shells in my bathing suit back to our room, but not on purpose! I was very good and didn’t remove any rocks or shells from The Galápagos Islands!

We are heading back to the Zodiac, and then to the Sea Finch where we will disembark and take the van back to the Royal Palm.

Here is where a lot of cargo is transferred to Santa Cruz Island. Food is vey expensive on the island. Recently there was a change in contracts of the cargo handlers to friends of the government. Prices have skyrocketed. The elections are coming in two weeks. All of the Ecuadorians that we talked to are very unhappy with the present government. They have been in power for the past twelve years. A lot of contracts go to friends of the government. A lot of the oil money has disappeared. People are also unhappy that the Chinese have bought many mines.

Our last sunset.

We had fish again.

Dinner was inside again as the veranda table was reserved by the J party. Not only was the circular table reserved, but the picnic table next to it was occupied by the group! I got pretty steamed by then. Why was the table reserved for them from 6:30, as they didn’t eat until 8:30? Couldn’t they just reserve it for 8:30, and others could use it earlier?

We thought we weren’t going to see stars tonight as it was partly cloudy earlier. However the clouds lifted and we got to see some stars. We had gone in earlier, so they weren’t as bright as last night’s.

Do you use pictures on your Christmas cards?

Do you need to shed some pounds?

Does your bathing suit accidentally fall off on purpose?

Bonus Question: Have you ever been pooped on by a bird?

Super Bonus Question: Would you take Hooter’s up on their offer to increase your breast size? Why or why not? Please limit your answer to 250 words.