Actually, that’s off to search for Booby’s not Boobies (I trust you know the difference). Yep, 0600 hours tomorrow morning and I grab my taxi to the airport for my flight to the Galapagos Islands. Zero degrees latitude and I will be right on the Equator, how cool is that? I just love the sound of that phrase: zero degrees latitude. It sounds so explorer-like. Move over Charles Darwin, Stephen-the-Intrepid is on his way.
The Galapagos Islands
The islands are approximately 600 miles off the western coast of Ecuador, and the flight takes about 2-1/2 hours from Quito. I’m departing at 0900 hours, so I should arrive at about 11:30 hours if all goes well (and I see no reason it shouldn’t). By all accounts the first day will be very busy even before we board our transportation the New Flamingo. I think we will be spending some time with the Galapagos Tortoises and Land Iguanas, so I should have my first opportunity to capture some wildlife (with my camera).
The New Flamingo
No internet for 8-days, Nirvana. I should be arriving back in Quito on the night of the 10th, so look for me to be back online around the 11th or 12th. Hopefully, I will have lots of photos to share with you, and possibly some interesting narrative as well. I’ve charged all of my batteries, cleared my memory cards and am getting all of my photo gear in good order. I also bought a new pair of Keen sandals and North Face Paramount convertible pants here in Quito. My old Keen Sandals blew up in Yucatan, and my last pair of lightweight pants gave up the ghost while I was in the Amazon. After 4-years on the road some of my gear is starting to give out.
I love Keen sandals: flexible, good toe-guard (has prevented broken toes on more than one occasion), waterproof and they dry quickly. Contrary to advertisements, I do find them slippery on wet rocks (but what isn’t). The only two negatives I can report are: they are very expensive at about $100 USD per pair (I got a 25% discount here in Quito, so my pair cost about $75 USD), and after a couple of years my soles separated from the uppers (the adhesive didn’t hold up).
I am sorry to report that lightweight convertible pants do not holdup well if you are traveling hard. If you can get a year of wear out of them you are doing good. They are great for the tropics, comfortable and they dry fast. But they are very expensive, not a particularly good value and can get kind of stinky after a couple of days. These North Face Paramount convertible pants list for $135 USD, but again I got a 25% discount so my final cost was about $111 USD (still way too expensive in my book).
Propper BDU Trousers
These pants are a better value. They are MilSpec (Military Specification) BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) pants worn by our military. Made of 65% polyester and 35% cotton ripstop they are indestructible. Large button-down cargo pockets and button fly compliment a fully adjustable waist. If they get wet (like mine do in the rain all the time), the 65% polyester allows them to dry quickly. Ripstop cotton may allow the occasional hole or small tear, but prevents a catastrophic blowout like my lightweight pants had in the Amazon. These are a little heavy for the tropics, but I’ve worn mine there often with no real discomfort. And they smell better after a few days of wearing than the 100% polyester convertible pants. The price: $40 USD. My two pair have survived 4-years of daily hard wear on the road and they’re still going strong (and don’t look too bad for having traveled that far). Check them out at http://www.Propper.com.
Final update: We just learned today that Ecuador only allows one 90-day tourist visa per person per year. We don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of getting a resident visa for just three more months, so we will be leaving on or before December 3rd. Looks like Peru will be next on our list. I will keep you posted as we get closer to that date.
By the way, its been confirmed—this young lady will be my roommate for the 8-day voyage on the New Flamingo. Sweet.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer and World Traveler