Getting to the Galapagos

June 29 – 30th

Here we go! We spent the week doing laundry, reorganizing our stuff, cleaning out the car, doing dishes and catching up on precious sleep in our own bed. We also spent time with family and tried to relax a bit for our next crazy trip. Ethan’s sister, Emily, graciously offered (or maybe we just told her she was taking us?! Unsure.) to drive us to Detroit for our 7:40am flight. That meant we had to get up 3:45. Gross. I got about 4 hours of sleep and Eth got even less.

My alarm rang at 3:45 and Ethan immediately checked his phone to make sure all was well with our flight. Not so much. It was delayed almost 4 hours. Uggggh! Our next flight was out of Chicago at 3:30pm so we had enough time to account for this delay, but we still had to go to the airport just in case something changed. But that sounded horrible. So Ethan called and at 4:20 we changed our flight to leave out of Lansing at 6am. We quickly grabbed the rest of the our stuff (I am still worried we forgot something) and Emily drove as quickly as possible to get us there in time. We arrived at 5am and after a little trouble checking in we got thru security in less than 5 minutes. I really don’t like airports and I hate security even more, but flying out of small airports is so much better and less stressful. Amazing! Efficient! Lovely! We were at the gate in another minute and in Chicago 40 minutes after that. Whew! That was super lucky!

We arrived at one of the domestic terminals so we had to take the tram to the international terminal. We couldn’t get into a lounge yet so we found a bank of seats by a charging station and I promptly fell fast asleep. I woke up to Ethan tapping me and telling that he was calling United about a different flight. More sleep. Then Ethan again saying “Let’s go to the lounge!” It was 8:15 and the Air France lounge had just opened. I was honestly still asleep when we walked in. The lady that checked us in was probably like “what is wrong with you?!” But she didn’t say anything. We found seats with a plug and I finished up my last two blogs before this one. We also ate several vegan sandwiches, three hummus/toubouli/pita snack boxes, several adult bevs and other various snacks. Best airport lounge we’ve ever been in. Good job Air France!

Mimosa while the planes roll in

Side note: the Galápagos Islands (for those geographically challenged) are located off the North West Pacific coast of South America. They are part of Ecuador and are actually not that hard to get to. And you can get there, stay there and see the sights on a budget! Which is why we are going. We really thought that a trip to the Galápagos Islands would be wayyy in the future when we’re older and hopefully have more money. But since we went to Peru back in April, Ethan became enthralled with South America and, being who he is, poured himself into research about it. He found that we could get to the islands on credit card points and that we didn’t have to book one of the famously expensive tours and the rest is history!

Update 1: Ooookay. We definitely overstayed our 3 hr time limit in the lounge, but no one really seemed to care. Our flight was supposed to board at 2:35, so we left at 2:30. Get to the gate, plane is delayed 30 mins. This is a problem because we only have 55 minutes to make our next flight. So we go up to the counter and they assure us all is well and we’ll make up time in the air. Ok. A few minutes later they call our names over the intercom. We’re thinking “crap. We’re not gonna make it, but maybe they’ve already figured it out.” Nope. We started our trip with United and we were flying Avianca the rest of the way. But United accidentally tagged our bags to go all the way to the Galapagos, when we actually need to claim and re-check them in Ecuador. So that got sorted and they assured us again that we wouldn’t miss our connection.

Soooo another 20 minutes go by, still not boarding. Another 15. Nope. Finally, they start boarding I swear to God in the slowest way possible. Then… we get on the plane and they assure everyone “you won’t miss your connection, butttt it’s gonna be another 30 minutes.” Whyyyyy??? At this point we are obviously not going to make it, but there isn’t much we can do at the moment. Then, to no ones surprise, they tell us that all the connections will be missed. Mother of God.

Update 2: The flight was only 4hrs but it felt much longer. We got dinner and we both fell in and out of sleep/consciousness after that. I was too tired to read or listen to a podcast and the inflight entertainment was on a tiny TV 5ft in front of us. I was also in the middle seat. A special kind of hell. Nothing to lean on and basically no arm rests. And I didn’t bring a neck pillow. The whole flight we were thinking about what we would do once we landed in San Salvador if we missed the connection (and I was thinking about how long it was gonna take me to get the kinks out of my neck).

As we were landing they made an announcement in Spanish and everyone started cheering and clapping. We expected them to repeat it in English, but they didn’t. Ethan turned around and asked the lady behind us and she said that everyone would make their connections. Hooray! We were still skeptical, but more hopeful than we had been. Upon landing they announced the connecting gates and luckily we know numbers in Spanish and we’ve been to the San Salvador airport before. They let us off the plane pretty fast and everyone was basically running. The airport is tiny though and they still had to transfer our bags so I wasn’t super worried. It seemed like they intentionally delayed all the connecting flights since there were so many on the late flight. We got to the gate with 15 minutes to spare. Woof! Ethan ran to the lounge to get some drinks and a few minutes later we boarded. This plane is has 2×2 seats and TVs in the headrests. Praise be!

Update 3: Our third flight was 2.5 hours long, but again it felt longer. I had the window seat this time, but it didn’t really help that much. The damage was already done. I couldn’t get comfortable, my neck hurt, my knees hurt, ugh. We both watched a movie and not long after we landed in Guayaquil, Ecuador. It was 1:15am. Once we were off the plane we started to walk toward immigration, but remembered that we were supposed to talk to someone about our bags. So we went back to the plane and ran into an Avianca worker on the way. He said not to worry and that our bags would be at the baggage claim. We hoped he was right. Immigration went pretty quickly and our bags were in fact waiting for us at baggage claim. We cleared customs and hoped there would be a comfortable place to hang out/sleep until we could check into our next flight, which was at 11:55am.

We found a couple seats that I could lay across and ethan slept on the floor for a few hours. Then the area started to get really busy so we moved to the other side of the check in area, found more seats and went back to sleep. I woke up to a voice saying “Pardon! Pardon!” A security guy was standing over me pointing to my bag, which was underneath me under the seat. He was making sure it was mine and that I kept an eye on it. I was not happy that he woke me up for this. Ethan woke up too and we decided to consolidate ourselves since the airport was getting busy on this side as well. We brushed our teeth and he went to find out if we could get our transit cards for the Galápagos.

Travel to the Islands is highly regulated so you have to pay a transit fee of $20/person and then it’s $100/person once you get there because it’s a national park. You also have to have your baggage checked again. We did this first and I didn’t realize that they put a zip tie on your zipper so you can’t get back into your bag until you get there. Of course, I had to get back into my bag, but they just took the zip tie off, let me get what I needed and put it back on. The transit card was pretty simple. They check your passports and your dates of arrival and departure. All this info goes on your transit card which you show when you get there.

Even though we already had our boarding passes, we couldn’t check our bags yet. So we went back to our spot and Ethan decided to leave the airport to check out a few things nearby. So I’m sitting with all our bags. I fell asleep for a while then someone needed the seat next to me. It’s 15 minutes until we can check in and our flight leaves at 11:55. I can’t wait to get to the lounge and go back to sleep.

Ethan came back from his quick self tour at 9:15. We checked our bags then headed to the lounge. I tried to sleep, but there was a kid just going absolutely bananas in there. He was screaming bloody murder and running around and at one point banging on some metal object with his feet. Not great for sleeping. Our flight boarded at 11:30, which was shocking since all the other flights going to the same place were delayed. Luck was finally on our side! This flight is pretty short, but then we’ll take a bus, a ferry and another bus to get to our hostel. This has been the longest travel day I can remember. Also, Happy 10 Year (5 yrs married) Anniversary to us!

Update 4: We made it! We are in our hostel using the wifi in the reception area trying not to fall asleep. Gonna back up here for a sec. I think the Galápagos airport might be the smallest airport I’ve ever been in. Cusco was maybe the same size or smaller. Anyway, getting onto the islands is like going thru immigration again. They check your passport then you have to pay the $100 entrance fee. Then they check your carry on bags again for “invasive organisms/substances.” Then they have all the bags waiting, but a security dog has to sniff them all first and then the baggage guy has to cut off all the zip ties. It was quite the process and was also pretty confusing.

Right outside are a bunch of buses and drivers yelling where they are going. Pretty much everyone was going to the island just South of Baltra, the Island the airport is on, called Santa Cruz. We found that bus, which drove for 10 minutes to the ferry which was about 5 minutes, then another bus for about 30 minutes to the town of Puerto Aroyo. We got off the bus and walked for about 5 minutes til we finally reached our hostel. Sweet Jesus. We were originally put in a room with no outside windows. Not gonna work for me. So they showed us another room, up one floor, but much bigger and several windows to the outside. Perfect! I immediately laid down and did not want to move.

We did end up doing a few things, but I shall detail that in the next post. Well, folks… I think that travel day(s) definitely makes the top 5 longest and most exhausting! We made it though! Safe and happy to finally be here – and celebrating 10 years together no less! Hooray!

Goodnight for now!

Stay tuned!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s