Puerto Ayora was my arrival port into the Galapagos Islands, and I almost wasn’t let in! Because stupid me had forgotten that the national park fee of 100 dollars is payable upon arrival, at immigration. I could feel the sweat building when they accepted cash only and there was no ATM I could get to. Counting my cash anxiously, it turned out I had 101.81 dollars in my wallet. Lord! And it ended up being only the first hurdle I needed to jump… After collecting our luggage we were put on buses which would take us to the Itabaca Channel crossing, where we had to board a ferry to get over from Baltra Island to Santa Cruz Island. With only 1.81 dollars to my name I basically had to ask the staff what the fare was before getting on. Luckily I was able to get confirmed the 0.80 dollar fare stated by Rough Guide. 1.01 dollars left! Next worry was not concerning my lack of cash, it was the way of handling luggage on the ferry crossing. All luggage was placed on the boat roof, which was flat as a pancake with no railings. And even though it is a pretty narrow channel, there were still enough waves to send the luggage flying off. When I handed my suitcase over, I could see with my inner eye how it would slide off and sink into the unknown below. I just had to put it out of my mind, and remember they’d done this plenty of times. Getting off on the other side of the channel I realised they had covered the luggage with huge bags, have no idea what was inside, but heavy enough to counter the weight of the luggage. Phew! After the ferry the next hurdle for me was getting to Puerto Ayora, with the buses costing 1.80 dollars and me being 0.79 dollar short. The only option was…a taxi! Cowardly I didn’t say anything to the taxi driver until we were well on our way, only asking him if he could stop by an ATM before dropping me off at my hotel. Which was not a problem at all. Thank God! The taxi driver also took me on a detour, stopping by his home… With me not speaking much Spanish and he not much English, I am still not sure what it was that de needed to do at home. It seemed like he just wanted to show me off to his kids…
Puerto Ayora is a relatively small village, with a vibe it was hard to pin down. But I liked it! Even if it was very quiet during the day, you could still get a sense of it having some nightlife to offer. Evenings appeared to be chill with people gathering to play football and volleyball, or be a spectator. The main street Charles Darwin Avenue is lined with shops, restaurants, hotels and the usual suspects. Amidst this the Pelican Bay, where fishermen attend to their boats, and sort through their catches, while sea lions and pelicans are waiting like dogs for leftovers that might fall to the ground. Here there’s also a small mangrove like area, with a boardwalk, where you get up close with the pelicans and birds. Further down the street you get to the black volcanic stone beaches, with their land iguanas basking in the sun. And plenty of them! Too many for my taste, at least when I couldn’t spot them 🙂 On the taxi ride from the ferry dock I could see that Santa Cruz Island was a lot lusher, and looked like it had more to offer, than I had thought. I just knew I should have stayed longer and explored more.
Other things to do: Puerto Ayora tips