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.

Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador Wednesday January 25, 2017

Today we were going to spend the day with Duncan, our guide who took us to visit the Darwin Museum and the fish cleaning on the docks. See that building in the middle of the picture? That is Picaya, a new luxury resort for those people who want to stay on land. We weren’t given the option of staying there on our trip. I wish we would have as they have their very own super deluxe yacht for their guests. I have looked up their price point since, and it is very high. Oh well. If you want a review, I suggest you head to TheGoodTheBadandtheLuxurious.com. It is a fantastic blog about luxury hotels. As we did not bring enough water with us for our walks we stopped off at the little mini mart for water. Only 60 cents for a bottle of water! Yay, my Ecuadorian grocery store! Another notch on my belt!

We drove further into the highlands to see some coffee trees.


Come along for the walk up the hill to enjoy the vista.

I forgot that I wanted a panoramic shot, but this will do.

We went back down the hill and got in the van, and saw this guy crossing the road. As he wasn’t a chicken, I didn’t bother asking him why he was crossing the road!

They were big, this one was shy.

Here is Duncan, you can compare the size of hunky man and tortoise!

This was another one down the road. He was pretty curious.

We went to see a crater, but thankfully only looked into it!

Here is a blooming prickly pear. See the yellow flowers?

These two trees are unusual to see growing near each other. The prickly pear on the left usually grows in the desert. The tree on the left generally only in the Highlands.

We went to the beach to do some sea kayaking. Let’s just say that we did it once, so I never had to do it again. It was a most unpleasant experience. My hips don’t like to be in a sea kayak. I was in a lot of pain and Steve had to paddle most of the time. We did see a few birds. From now on if sea kayaking is suggested we just say “No!”

Steve and I came back to the Royal Palm Hotel RoyalPalmGalapagos.com for lunch. Steve is trying to give me goo goo eyes because he knows I am all set to go off on a toot.

And lookie here. This is the alpha female of the foursome that hogs all the best spots. She came back from her morning’s adventures and is back, on the one table on the veranda. They sit here all breakfast, are here for lunch, and they will claim it again this afternoon to discuss the next day’s events, and then eventually order dinner. They were on the boat yesterday and one of the group gets on the boat first and nails the prime spots on the prow of the boat. Last night I asked the waiter if we could reserve the table for dinner tonight. This is why we usually don’t go on group tours. I am extremely sensitive to other people’s behaviors. My behavior of course, is exemplary. (Well, maybe not all the time!)

Steve and I only take less than an hour for dinner. What would have been nice, is if every group took turns sitting at the table. There were only six of us staying at the hotel at the time. So, it was quite annoying that they were able to sit at the table outside all the time. They could have sat at the table while planning the next day’s events, then had cocktails around the pool while we had our dinner at the table , and then they could have returned to the table for their dinner. But NO, it didn’t work out that way!

This was the lunch we had back at the hotel before our afternoon adventures. That hamburger has some seriously gloppy cheese on it!

Hmm, I wonder what foursome had their belonging strewn all over the chairs, but were no where in sight?

Lava Tunnel picture from the hotel website.

I took this picture. Our adventure of the day continued with explorations of a lava tunnel on the grounds of the Royal Palm. The former owner was said to have stored either his wine, or mozzarella cheese or both. I wasn’t sure what the real story was.

There were helmets and flashlights waiting for us in the bag.

Here we are, all helmeted up and ready to go! Steve always looks like the camera lens is off in the distance behind the camera. I, on the other hand am always ready for my close up!

This is a lava tunnel. It formed over 1 million years ago when a lava flow crusted over and hot lava continued to flow under the crust which is 2-3 feet thick. This tunnel has a nice path made by the hotel. Much easier going that’s the tunnel on Easter Island.

Here is a picture of what is called coral lava. It is not made from coral, it just looks like coral.

Here we see an upper and lower portion of the lava tunnel.

These are not stalactites, just lava that dripped and cooled as it hardened.

Here we are near the end of the lava tunnel. It was a much more pleasant trip than the Easter Island Lava Tunnel!

Up the ladder and on toward day light.

Next we are going to visit Ranch El Manzanillo, a coffee farm that has Galapagos Giant Tortoises on it! I call that a Double Play! Perhaps we might be able to make it a Triple instead! You can see the red coffee beans. They are all picked by hand. It is quite labor intensive.

We then drove off in search of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. Did you know that the word Galapagos derives from the Spanish word for Tortoise?

The back feet are more stocky, and the front feet more flexible.

This is tortoise dung. You did want to see it, didn’t you?

It’s pretty big!

Tortoises can’t swim but they can float. They love to cool off in the water.

This tortoise is not very old. You can compare his size to Duncan’s leg.

They eat a lot of grass.

They bend the front leg over when they walk.

Sneaking up on a Galapagos Tortoise. Duncan knows just the shots to take!

In captivity a full grown Galapagos Tortoise can weigh up to 900 pounds! In the wild they are 500-600 pounds. It is said that they can live up to 200 years, but some of the data is anecdotal.

This guy is walking in shallow water. You can tell the female from the male tortoise as the female’s shell is muddier and scratched from wild Tortoise sex. No, we didn’t get to see any tortoise copulating!

Here you see a little video of the Galapagos Tortoise. Enjoy!

The Dashing Duncan Devine brought us to see Sr. Guerrero and his sugar cane distillery and coffee farm.

Here is Sr. Guerrero showing us where the sugar cane is crushed to make rum.

The sugar cane goes into the machine and out comes the juice into a metal bowl. The donkey that normally turn the wheel was not available so Steve and Duncan acted as he-men to push the wooden poles around. I got to try and feed the cane while Steve and Duncan pushed. I then tried to push while Steve fed the cane into the machine but it ended up “seizing up” and nothing happen. Steve’s family has stories about machines “seizing up”, I will likely have a chapter in my book about that!

The cane juice is put through a strainer.

It’s mixed with fresh ice and is ready to drink. The juice looked clear at first, but was a cloudy green when it was mixed with the ice.

This is Sra Guerrero with Sr. Guerrero.

We also got to try the sugar cane booze straight up. It was 60% alcohol or 120 proof. Steve says it’s called rum, not sugar cane booze.

Some of the rum cut with the sugar cane juice. It was refreshing, but packed a wallop!

The juice from the sugar cane is boiled down to a molasses.

Then it goes into the silver still.

And then into the wooden barrel. Salud!

We also got to see how coffee was roasted. Enough about how adventure, let’s go back to the Royal Palm.

We had a beautiful sunset again!

The hotels signature drink, called the Bachelor’s Delight. I told them I was renaming it the “Happily Married Woman’s Delight”!

So since the ugly American table hogs went to dinner in town, we got to sit at the outside table. Yay! You can see the tables in the background where they could have sat and done their planning for the next day. I am doing the crazy happiness pose for Steve. Since our stay the hotel has added more tables for people to sit at, and comfortable chairs to hang out on. I had suggested this when we checked out of the hotel.

The snapper we had for dinner was excellent. Too bad only the vegetables look good!

On the way back to our room we looked at the stars and saw Mars, Venus and Uranus! I would call the day a home run, we saw Galapagos Giant Tortoises wandering about, visited a coffee plantation, saw how rum was made and scored the coveted outside table!

Why can’t we all be friends?

Have you ever seen Galapagos Tortoises having sex?

Do you call it rum or sugar cane booze?

Do you have a cave to store wine and cheese in your back yard?

Galapagos, Ecuador Tuesday January 24, 2017

The flowers are gorgeous here. We said goodbye at breakfast to the lovely Cecilia and her husband Washington. Did you know that it is very popular in Ecuador to name your children after famous American Presidents ? Yes, indeed, there are many Washingtons, Lincolns, and in fact Donald Trump was so popular that the naming registry put a halt to naming your son after our current President! Presidential names were not the only popular names, in fact Milk of Magnesia was also a common name! I kid you not!

Today we are going on an excursion to South Plaza Island. We were met by a bus that brought us to the pier where we had been dropped by the ferry yesterday. Our yacht was called the Sea Finch. It had an air conditioned room that you could sit in, and or lay out on the front deck area. There were a limited number of seats where you could stretch your feet out. I nabbed one. Steve got the bench. We had lunch in the air conditioned area. There was also a bathroom and changing area on the boat. We approached Plaza Island and were met by many sea lions. The red creature on the left is a Sally Light Food Crab. The guy on the right is a sea lion. But you already knew that!

This is a picture of Nadine, our guide. She was from France and often times sounded like Inspector Clouseau. Nadine is telling us about seals in this videoclip.

This is a blue footed booby on the cliff. I better get a better picture of one for this trip. In case I don’t get a better picture here is a professional one. I should probably just tell you the names of the animals and have you look them up. You won’t even need to read my blog then!

These are cacti, the land iguanas eat them for food. I feel bad for this guy. He wore a black shirt, black pants, and has very dark hair. My hair is very dark, I call it the color of bittersweet chocolate. If I don’t wear a hat in the sun, my head heats up lickety split.

Here is an iguana. Here is a dead iguana. We finally turned around to head back to the Sea Finch. I don’t think that the altitude app on my iPhone works worth a ding dang. Steve says they do have a big margin of error! We saw this yacht on the way in to the dock in Puerto Ayora. Oftentimes the town is mistakenly called Santa Cruz, but that is the name of the island.

Here I am with Sally’s Go pro on my head. I will be lucky if any of the pictures turn out. Steve thinks that I look like a member of the Borg Collective from Star Trek-The Next Generation. Steve ended up going snorkeling. I didn’t as I can’t see well enough without my glasses on, and Nadine, our guide, said that you couldn’t wear glasses and a snorkel mask. No pictures of Steve and the group snorkeling, although I went out on the Zodiac with them, and I was afraid that I would drop my phone in the water! Here is a picture of me in front of a fruit shop. I am hot and bedraggled. I am going to count this as a visit to a grocery store if we don’t visit on on Friday when we go back to Guayaquil. Otherwise I am going to have to give up my streak of visiting a grocery store in every state or country that we go to!This is a lovely view of the pool and the restaurant where we had our breakfasts and dinners.

After watching the sunset at the hotel we had dinner. No pictures of food tonight, I am tired of being away, and just want to sleep in my own house and do laundry again.

Have you ever been to The Galapagos?

Do you think that you will return in your next life as a Blue Footed Booby?

Do you speak with a French accent?

Bonus question! Would you rather name your child Trump or Milk of Magnesia?

Guayaquil, Ecuador to Galapagos, Ecuador Monday January 23, 2017

This was the breakfast buffet at the hotel. They actually had a roast turkey, if you wanted to eat something heavy in the morning. I sure didn’t!

What I did like the best was the display of breads. This hotel was the preferred hotel for one of the airlines. There was a hotel table reserved for the flight crew. When we went through the sliding doors to exit the terminal last night our guide told us to hurry to the awaiting car. It turns out there were lots of flying insects. This morning while waiting at the gate to get on our plane to the Galapagos a man next to me started to jump up and down like crazy, and look down on the floor. I asked him if he had dropped anything. “No, there was something in my pants!” I looked on the ground and saw one of these crickets on the ground. Looks like the cricket got through security! This the flight path to Baltra Island in the Galápagos Islands from Guayaquil. Baltra Island is also know as South Seymour.

This is our snack on the flight.

These appear to be dried banana chips. I didn’t have a window seat so I asked my seat mate if I could use some of her pictures from her phone. Here is another one of the islands. I don’t know the names of them.We have landed!

This is a map of the Galápagos Islands. We are doing a land based adventure as we have no desire to be trapped on a boat with people that we won’t like. Don’t try to click on any of the islands as there are no direct links. We will be staying on Santa Cruz Island and taking some day trips. We will only be able to go to few of the islands that are close to Santa Cruz. For the people that stay on catamarans or the larger boats you have a choice of which island groups you want to see. The stops on the islands are heavily regulated by the government, no spontaneous stops allowed!. Steve is off to the terminal. Here the dogs were sniffing for taboo items. Like drugs! The mad scrum for luggage after the dogs were done checking for illegal substances. Then we got ready to board the bus.After we paid our processing fee of $100 cash to enter the Galapagos, and got our luggage we boarded the bus. No, that is not El Chapo behind us! You can tell that we have real teeth and not implants as our teeth are not optic white and large. Did you know that some people do get implants that are just a wee bit irregular so that they look more natural? True!

The bus took us to a ferry that was taking us to the island that our hotel was on.

To another bus that would take us to our hotel -The Royal Palm. Steve and I both suffer from seasickness so we didn’t want to go on a cruise. Plus, I get a little claustrophobic and being trapped on a boat for a number of days was not too exciting an idea to me. I figure if I am on land, I can always walk around the property, even though I can’t leave the islands until it is time for our next flight.

Here are containers at the ferry dock watching to be brought to town. On our way to the hotel I noticed a long line of vehicles. They were a combination of busses, taxis, and delivery vehicles waiting for the next ferry from the airport to arrive.Here is the view from the back of the bus of the airport way in the distance on another island. The white speck is the airport. Where we were located on the island they get a lot of rain.There are several areas in the Galapagos where it is desert like. Our hotel was in the highland area of Santa Cruz. Most people who visit the Galapagos take cruises of the islands. Either big boats of about 90 people, or catamarans of under 20 passengers. The Royal Palm would be our stay for the next few days. It was considered a five star resort when it was first built. Would it remain so? Stick around and you can make your own judgement. A picture of the reception area from the hotel’s website. We were given glasses of refreshing juice at check in. There were bowls of sea sickness pills in quite a few areas of the resort. This is a map of the grounds. We would be staying in villa 4. The resort had a beautiful pool. There was a tennis court for those that wanted to play a few sets while on vacation. We were staying in a Highland Villa. The outside of our villa. I think our villa was the furthest from the main dining area and pool. I didn’t like the walk at all. I am indeed lazy. Let’s go in, shall we. This was the view of the room as you walked in. Living room before you, and an enclosed porch beyond that. Another view of the villa. The main entrance was the door on the left. Although there was a fireplace, I don’t know if you would ever need it. Our bedroom was through the bifold doors. The bed was very attractive. There were plenty of outlets next to the bed. One thing I noticed about Ecuador is that the beds are very hard!

This is the bathroom. The shower was the door to the back left. They had plenty of bottles of water. We could not use the tap water to drink, or brush our teeth. You needed to use bottled water. The enclosed porch was very strange. There was a deep soaking tub. The chairs encouraged a view, but it was just of the grounds. You really couldn’t see the ocean in the distance. The room was very hot, there was no air conditioning in this room at all.

We were met at 3 by a taxi to take us to the Darwin Center in Puerto Ayaro. It took us about twenty minutes to get into town. It took us about 30 minutes to take us to the ferry to the island where the airport was.

This tortoise is called Diego. He is about 130 years old! Diego is an Española tortoise. He is from the San Diego zoo. It did take me a bit to figure that out why he is called Diego. I am only smart on certain days. He has had about 1700 offspring! They are hoping to release him into the wild in the next few years. This is a land iguana. He is orange as it is breeding season.

I got pretty hot outside so we went into the visitor center. Here is Steve and our guide. This picture of Darwin was made from …Stamps!

Look at the size of this tortoise shell! These are the three types of tortoises. Saddleback, dome shaped, and intermediate. The tortoises from the Galapagos are the largest in the world. The males can weigh as much as 900 pounds. They are the longest living of all vertebrates (animals with backbones).

After we cooled off a bit our guide asked us if we would like to see the fisherman cleaning the day’s catch in town. Birds were flying all over to catch the scraps!

It was fun to watch them fight over the pieces of fish guts. Just click on the arrow!

A sea lion showed up to join the party and even an iguana!

Here is more video. It was fun to watch until a few of the pelicans got pieces of fish get caught in their throats the wrong way down their throats. Then they would hack and try to barf up the fish carcasses. Sometimes the birds die as they choke to death because the pieces of fish are too big and they get stuck.

Back to the hotel for a drink. Sunset is always a good time for a Pisco Sour! They had a fire going in the restaurant although it was really hot!

On the bus to our hotel this morning we met a lovely couple and asked if they wanted to join us for dinner. Of course, they said yes! They live in Quito Ecuador. Unfortunately Quito is at an elevation of 9450 feet and they live on the 14th floor of their building so we won’t be able to check out the views in her apartment. I don’t tolerate high altitudes at all. Although she and her dashing husband Washington have an apartment in Miami. I may have to meet her there. I will tell you tomorrow why her husband is called Washington. Good night everyone!

Are you a vertebrate?

Do you have implants? Teeth or Breast?

Do you refuse to stay in a room without air conditioning?

Santiago Chile to Guayaquil, Ecuador Sunday January 22, 2017

The Ritz Carlton in Santiago upgraded our room to a junior suite. That meant that we got an extra set of chairs and a coffee table in the room. We arrived too late last night to enjoy the desserts and the after dinner drinks in the lounge, but we got breakfast this morning! This is a better picture of the honey comb. The honey dripped down, and you used the wooden tool to drizzle honey on your croissant or bowl of oatmeal.Aren’t these flowers in the lobby gorgeous?

We didn’t get much sleep last night as the temperature in our room never got below 23 C, which is 73.4 F. We usually like it best when the room is 67 or less.

We are off to visit the winery in Casablanca. I think that Rick and Ilsa have already departed.

9:30 is a great time to arrive. No one else is here.

We got to look at unripe grapes.

Also some grapes that looked more ripe. I didn’t try to eat any as there were guards everywhere.

Here is our guide JP with the crazy hands trying to explain something to Steve. Steve is just going “uh huh, uh huh. If you say so.”.

I was busy watching the marching ants going off it both directions.

This was in the gift shop. I thought it was pretty cool. You put it in your bottle of white wine and it automatically chills the wine as you pour. It’s great if you forgot to chill your white wine and you need some chilled white wine ASAP! I guess you could be a peasant and just throw some ice cubes in it!

Our table was all set up for our tasting.

Five glasses of wine at ten in the morning. Oh My.

First up were two wines from the Ritual line.

Next were from the Primus line.

This was our last bottle. It is their flagship brand. It is named in honor of the indigenous people, The Mapuche.

We were given snacks to eat with the wine. I ate the cheese and chocolate. Chopped liver or headcheese are things that I won’t eat. I don’t eat innards. We have a friend M, who is now a vegetarian. When she did eat meat, her favorite dish growing up was liver and onions. Can you imagine? Well if you are M, you can!

Here is our beautiful wine instructor.

You can see that I didn’t drink much. Steve did. Or wine instructor either caught Steve in mid blink or he is besotted with me! Or in other words a “love fog”.

James Suckling really liked their wine.

This is where some of the packing took place. We had a tasting, not a tour. If you want to goo on a tour you will have to read the rest of this blog post.

We had never tried Carmenere before we stayed at Coyhaique. We liked it very much.

The vineyards grow halfway up the hillside.

Let’s check out our next winery, shall we? Vina Casas Del Bosque. But you already knew that as all of you can read!

Steve looks like he owns this place doesn’t he?

Steve fell in love with this chair, and thought that I would look amazingly cute in it. I think that it is wonderful that he still finds me cute. Now if he found me adorable that would be even better as I would likely get away with more nonsense then! I stayed very still so that he could center me in the frame. If the subject is not moving he does very well with his picture taking. Steve didn’t even get his fingers in the picture!

I know many people that would like this coffee cup.

We joined a tour already in progress. We started after the guide talked about the grapes.

Everyone had a good laugh when we realized our tour guide was not saying “Friendship Barrels”, but “French Oak Barrels”! Did you know that China, Japan and Korea are the largest consumers of Chilean wines? Now you do!

Here is wine being aged in the barrels. There was something important to know about the red lines on the barrels. I did for about twenty seconds, and then promptly forgot. Maybe you should go on the tour next time, and remember for me. Steve’s expression is “Enough already, let’s try some wine!”.

You can see the wood chucks holding the barrels in place. During the last earthquake there was some damage to the winery. I will allow you one guess as to what is being stored in this barrel.

We are ready for the wine tasting. Those are neither my legs, nor Steve’s

This is our new friend G from Canada. She is trying to determine if she liked this wine. G and D flew into Santiago from Toronto to go on a cruise form Valparaiso around the tip of South America. They are with five other couples that belong to a curling club.

G was very much in thought regarding this wine. G and D couldn’t get on their ship until late afternoon as the ship had to undergo deep cleaning due to the presence of a Norovirus on the last sailing. We had a lot of fun hearing about the cruises that they had been on. They advised us to start with a river cruise, and if we like that go on a bigger ship. Steve does not want to cruise until he is every older and more decrepit. I must admit that now a few years have passed since we were on this trip and my body is decrepit enough to go on a cruise.

Here is D examining the wine’s color. It looked red to me. D drank all his wine.

Our tasting package only allowed us to sample three wines. These were the yellow buttons we were given.

D and G had ordered the deluxe package tour and got five wines to sample! I will miss D and G, they were a lot of fun.Lots of empty glasses after our tasting!

Our Canadian friends hopped on their bus and we went to have lunch at the winery.

A fried bread with cheese inside on the left. Chilean rolls on the right. They were very hard.

Next up was a fried shrimp brie and nuts on a green salad. The waiter would always ask us ten minutes after we got our food if we wanted fresh ground pepper.

Three French fries, and a little filet with a fried egg on top.

My wines with lunch, their level didn’t change much.

Dessert was lavender Creme brûlée.

I thought you might want a closeup of the chocolate branch. I am not sure if it is hard to make or not.

Finally espressso and a little sweet. I promptly spilled my espresso all over after I took this picture!

At the end of the meal the waiter was there quick as a button with a big smile to tell us that tip was not included in the prepaid lunch.

On our way out we saw another bus load of tourists arrive for their wine tour.

Good bye wine tour, and one last crazy pose for Chile!

At one of the toll stations on the super highway there were peddlers selling stuff. Water, candy, soda, and food. Peddling is not allowed, but people love the convenience.

The peddlers would place their wares on the concrete and you would tell them what you wanted.

Sandwiches and in his hidden hand horse jerky.

Before we knew it we were at the airport in Santiago.

At the duty free shop, I found these bottles of Pisco. I wonder if I will find them in Poughkeepsie!

Will I be able to find these in the local liquor store?

When I saw this lady in the line at the airport I thought she was topless at first. No, just in need of a good bra.

Premium Economy on LAN from Santiago to Guayaquil is an empty seat between you and your seat mate.

Good bye Santiago mountains through the haze. Good by JP and your crazy hands!

Hello clouds that look like a snowbank.

Pork, pumpkin risotto, salad and gooseberry mousse.

Our flight path, the trip would take us about four hours.

Sunset in the air.

Somewhere above Guayaquil, Ecuador.

This map will give you a recap of our travels so far. We flew from NYC to Santiago, Balmaceda, Puerto Montt, Santiago, Isla de Pascua(Easter Island), Santiago and then to Guayaquil where we have just landed. We then fly to Galapagos, Guayaquil and then home.

Are you old and decrepit?

Would you rather drink three glasses of wine or five?

What size suite do you prefer, junior, one bedroom, or Presidential?