Salinas was definitely not what we had expected. But it gave us a base to travel from in Ecuador (we were able to visit many cool towns) and it taught us that we would not again be committing to a location before seeing it : ) So when the end of the month arrived, we gladly packed our bags, not knowing where we would be going next.
As I had been homesick over the holidays, anywhere north seemed to be in the right direction, so north we went.
A girlfriend had come to spend some time with us over the New Year and we figured traveling around together would be a good way to scope out our next move. Our bags packed, we hit the road.
In Ecuador it costs about $1/hour to ride buses all over the country- we became pros at it. We caught a bus heading north along the coast and decided to spend some time in Puerto Lopez.
I had read that Isla de la Plata, a boat ride out of Puerto Lopez, was comparable to visiting the Galapagos Islands. WRONG. It turned out to be a painful experience, so bad that now I laugh just thinking about it.
There is a reason it is referred to as “poor man’s galapagos.” I thought it just meant that it would be a cheaper trip, haha!
Ever been in a small boat in open waters? I have many times actually, and I do usually get sick, but this was the worst. For hours we seemed to float and then slap over and over, getting no breaks to find an equilibrium in the head or stomach. There were maybe 20 of us on the boat and one of three were doubled over in sea sickness. Bitty of course loved it : )
They had told us that lunch and drinks would be provided and that sandals were okay. We arrived sick and parched on this desert looking island de la Plata, with no water to drink on our HIKING tour in the blazing heat. What fun! The tour guide spoke only spanish, but we couldn’t have missed much because all that there was to see were BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES.
I’m pretty sure that the galapagos boast more wildlife than just blue footed birds. But that is the only animal you get to see on the poor man’s version of those isles. So we walked and walked, hot, thirsty, tired, in dresses and sandals, listening to but not understanding our guide, just wanting it to be over so we could go snorkeling and have lunch back on the devil boat.
Finally after several miles upon which we would stop too frequently to observe ANOTHER pair of the boobies, we made it back down to the beach. And onto the boat, where they gave us our sack lunches: cheese and jam sandwiches, cola, and a couple of candies! Things were looking up until a short ride on the boat took us to the only shaded area of water where we were meant to snorkel. It was cold. Those who jumped in after getting all geared up quickly climbed back out.
As the time drew near to leave, dark clouds gathered above.
What had been a long hot walk under the sun was now followed by a never-ending boat ride in the rain, the freezing cold whipping at our hair and faces. The floating/slapping was magnified by the discomfort of being cold and wet. The lunch I had eaten earlier became a cruel joke in my stomach. I contemplated death. A watery grave. It was so bad.
But we survived. And the next day we saw a group of hippies pouring out of a VW van. We were inspired, so we looked on craigslist and right away found the van that would become our home.