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Galapagos Days 16-17

Disembark and fly to Quito

Sept 11, Day 16

Today we had to leave the cruise ship and head to the airport to fly to Quito. We are really going to miss all the wonderful crew on the Celebrity Xpedition. They treated us so well, anticipating our every need!

At the Baltra airport there was al large garden area that had birds and cactus in it when we saw a large land iguana! He was heading towards the wall to make a break for it, so we rushed outside to take pictures, but he eventually thought better of it and stayed inside. After security, we found a number of shops to get last minute souvenir shopping done.

Upon landing in Quito, we gathered our luggage and went to find the Covid testing center so we could test to reenter the US. It was all very organized, and they got us our results both online and printed out in about 30 minutes. I am amazed how in so many countries I visit, they make use of what local materials they have, but it’s so nice compared to what we would have. For example, in the airport bathroom in Quito, they have this beautiful stone carved into small hexagonal tiles for the walls (see pics).

We took a 50-minute taxi ride to the Wyndham Garden in downtown Quito. During the long ride, Craig practiced his Spanish with the taxi driver and made a great connection. Juan is now our “taxi guy” in Quito. He took them back to the airport that night for $20 (the standard rate is $25). We relaxed a bit then grabbed dinner at a restaurant across the street. We searched for one that had lots of great reviews, but apparently it closed during Covid and so we ate at the new one that opened in the space. They were very helpful and welcoming. They did not have an English menu, but the one person who spoke some English interpreted and gave us good suggestions. They also gave us some wonderful bread and appetizers. The food was great though I didn’t realize until 3am when I woke up with altitude sickness that I shouldn’t have forced myself to finish the last 6 bites!

Sept 12, Day 17

Today was quite unpleasant for me with mild nausea, a headache, insomnia, and tiredness. Finally around 11am after 12 hours of “sleeping” dad and I finally got up to join Aunt Helen and Uncle Michael who as always were up very early and had already gone out and gotten some pastries for us. We really wanted to see hummingbirds since this area is known for them. Before taking a 2 hour trip to Mindo, we decided to try the Quito Botanical Garden as they often have hummingbirds. Luckily, the park was just a half block from our hotel. It was quite a joy to wander through it! First of all, on Sundays (maybe Saturdays too IDK) they close one direction of the street next to the park so people can run, skate, and bike. As we crossed the street, we saw the first sign of how fun the park is: a wild bright green centipede train driving along the street, winding across all the lanes of the road around the park.

Then once we were in the park itself, there were families everywhere enjoying the day. Some families were playing a small game of soccer. Others were picnicking. Others were strolling or walking dogs. They also had a man made lake with fountains where they rented paddleboats. There were vendors along the side selling everything: giant cotton candy, bouncing balls, churros, friendship bracelets, bubble blowers, you name it! It was just like a fair with all these families walking around. (see pics) We found the botanical garden and wandered through it. We did see many plants and a couple of nice fish ponds, but only one hummingbird (which may have just been a small bird, hard to tell since it was partly hidden in the tree). As we left the park, we even saw a bounce house and some small cars for kids to play with. It was a true child’s paradise! If I was 5, this would be the place I’d want to go.

Clearly the park has a Jekyll and Hyde thing going. When we checked in the night before, we talked about walking to dinner and receptionist went wide eyed and she admonished us to not walk through the park because it was not safe. We asked if it was safe during the day at which point her expression relaxed and she said of course, it is fine during the day. Just not after 6. Pause. Or 5, not after 5 or 6. From this I gathered that it is not safe after dark and since sunset is at 6, she decided to add a “stupid gringos” margin of error and tell us to be out by 5. Though honestly her expression and the slight panic in her voice was enough to keep me well away from the park after dark.

After our pleasant outing (well before dark), we dropped dad off at the hotel to watch football while we went shopping at the artesenal market. At first there wasn’t much I wanted to get, and it was largely the same items as Cusco (they even had the small stuffed alpacas and guinea pigs). I did see a nice woven scarf but since I never wear scarves it seemed like a terrible thing to get. However, after a little thought I remembered I’ve been wanting a tablecloth so I went back there and bought one. I also couldn’t resist a cute ceramic and silver hummingbird and a $5 Galapagos t-shirt.

Having fulfilled our shopping quota, we returned back to the hotel and I rested awhile since the days exertions had made my altitude sickness return to an uncomfortable level. We tried the hotel restaurant for dinner and it was fine, but not as good as the restaurant last night, Experiencias. I was mindful of my situation and tried to drink water and eat carbs (suggested remedies). My appetite was still gone so I managed to take 4 bites of spaghetti before heading up to bed. I did notice that on one of the TV’s in the bar area they had a soccer match going on, and surprise, it was a women’s professional league match! The teams were from a Latin country, but I am not sure which. No wonder other countries are starting to catch up with the US Women’s team if they have pro leagues too.

Picture Collage: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pm2utrvOWDvpESx3Oklxpn_d7BrJkZWj/view?usp=sharing

Posted by nutmeg2000 07:43 Archived in Ecuador

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