Our bus driver was at our hostel at 7:00 a.m. to bring us to the airport. The 45-minute drive brought us back to the Itabaca Channel, where we took another short ferry to Baltra Island. There, we started to say our goodbyes to some of those in our travel group.
My heart strings were tugged one last time as I had a truly epic view of the islands while we were in the air. What an amazing place!
Shockingly cool in Quito
The return flight to Quito was an easy one. Getting off the plane was a little more challenging as it was cooler and humid, which was a bit shocking after the weather we’d been in for the past week. Quito is the largest city in Ecuador, with 3 million people. It’s spread out over a large area, flanked in the Andes Mountain range, which offered some stunning views along the 45-minute ride into the city from the airport. When we arrived a week prior, it was late, so we couldn’t see anything. Seeing it in the daytimes is nothing short of impressive.
Together for one Last Supper
After getting dropped off at our hotel (back at the Sierra Madre), our group wanted to enjoy a traditional Ecuadorian cuisine together. The front desk guy recommended we try Miskay, which was very close to our hotel. It’s located in the bustling Foch Plaza area and was admittedly a little challenging for us to find at first. The external sign is small, and you then need to walk up a few flights of stairs to get to it. The name Miskay is a combination of two words – mikuna and kawsay, which basically mean food and culture. It’s a perfect way to describe this place.
Every bit of effort to find Miskay was worth it; it had really impressive menu. It even accommodates vegetarians – basically, they sub the protein on any plate with a vegetarian protein option. We all tried different things, from beef, to chicken, to fish (and my vegetarian option). The table went silent when we got our food – it was seriously that good. We also enjoyed some pretty amazing dessert. It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.
Onward to home
We luckily had just enough time to walk back to our hotel and get cleaned up before we needed to head back to the airport. After some big hugs to our new friends, we hopped in our taxi. The $25 tab for a 45-minute ride seems very much worth it. Our flight had a 12:30 a.m. departure time. Exhaustion was completely set in. With any luck, we’ll crash on the flight to Atlanta – hopefully the first class seats will help.
One thing to note: the VIP lounge at UIO airport is stellar. Large, clean, comfortable, with a lot of great snack options. It was a great place to chill before we headed home.
Truly, a “lucky” trip
It was on the charter back to Santa Cruz from Isabel when we realized how genuinely authentic Alex was being about our “luck” throughout our tour. So often he’d exclaim, “We’re so lucky! This is really rare thing to see!” From being able to see vistas from the various highlands, to seeing several animals up so close, he said it so many times that it became a little joke among us on the tour – Sure, Alex. We’re “lucky.” Wink-wink. However, as we left Isabela, the highlands were encased in clouds; it was the same thing as we approached Santa Cruz. And when we saw the bull sharks in Los Tuneles, he about lost his mind with excitement.
So rather than skepticism, I’m buying into everything Alex said – our group experienced some truly rare and amazing things. We lucked out with:
- Perfect, sunny weather our entire week in the Galapagos
- Taking in unobstructed views of the Sierra Negra caldera
- Getting up and close and personal with sharks
- Swimming with a wild baby sea lion for an hour
- Witnessing a newborn sea lion go into the water for the first time with its mama
- Seeing three wild blue footed boobies: A flirty father, an attentive mother with her eggs, and a baby
- Enjoying the wonderful company of 13 other travel partners from Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway
I’ll be back with a summary of things to know/consider when traveling to the Galapagos.