G for Galapagos

Why I am not interested in G for Galapagos, by Carolyn V. Hamilton

Several of my friends have visited Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and raved about their fabulous trips.

Since I emigrated to Ecuador two years ago, I get two questions: “Have you been to the Galapagos?” and “When are you going to the Galapagos?”

No. And, I’m not going.

I loved the television documentary series on the Islands hosted by Richard Attenborough. Colorful scenery, great historical facts, interesting information, great videography;  all from the comfort of my living room, with a nice glass of wine and some munchies.

G for Galapagos

What do you get to see there?

The Galapagos Islands are known for amazing biodiversity: giant tortoises, lizards, birds and marine life.

When I lived in Suriname, I saw giant tortoises nesting on the beaches, at night (that’s when they feel safest, I guess), and accompanied by mosquitoes.

In Kona, Hawaii, I’ve seen lots of black volcanic lava rocks. Almost nothing grows on or between them. (Although I understand cactus thrives among the rocks on the Galapagos Islands; for 35 years I lived in the desert. I hate cactus). It’s impossible to walk on those rocks, and they’re not pretty.

But I must admit the helicopter ride over the hot lava to see where it flowed into the sea was impressive.

G for Galapagos

Big lizards?

Right up there with big tortoises--they’re ugly, mean-looking, and they probably smell. I’m just not a reptile person.

Blue-footed boobies?

As a vintage Playboy Bunny, I’ve probably heard every booby joke in the world. I don’t care to meet any bird named “booby.”

G for Galapagos

Swimming with "playful sea lions and dolphins?

In Roatan I swam with dolphins, and I’ve scuba-dived in the Caribbean and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. So I admit to kind of a “been there, done that, got the tee shirt” response to diving in the Galapagos. (To read about my friend Loretta’s snorkeling scare, CLICK HERE)

G for Galapagos

And what about the weather?

Richard Attenborough and his team had the financial luxury of waiting for nice days to film. But let’s be real; these islands are 612 MILES off the coast of Ecuador, waaaaaay out in the ocean, which can have big, scary waves, and unpredictable weather.

I don’t want to be on a boat bobbing up and down in huge waves and inclement weather. You pays your money, you takes your chances on the weather.

G for Galapagos

And you pay a LOT of money!

These islands are an Ecuadorean national park. You can’t get in without a qualified guide on an organized tour. Most visitors go on cruises around the islands.

4 days/3 nights for $1,000? 8 days/7 nights for $3,250? And those rates are quoted as 15% and 25% off regular prices.

G for Galapagos

How desolate is this place?

In previous centuries ship captains marooned their sailors here as a form of punishment, leaving them to starve to death. In the 1800s, there was even a brutal penal colony in residence. Most of the islands have no fresh water.

Today, some conservationists are saying that the best way to preserve the biodiversity of these islands is to reduce tourism and its inevitable impact.

So now you know why I’m probably the only person in the world who has no interest at all in visiting the Galapagos Islands.

And why there are no photos to accompany this piece; I have not been there.

BTW, the apartment building, which has no name and no street number where I live in Cuenca is on Calle Esmeraldas and a cross street called Galapagos.

Tomorrow’s AtoZ Challenge: For the letter H I’m going to write about my Hostal experience in Quito, Ecuador. 

Carolyn V. Hamilton, former Editor

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