Hit the Island Running – Ecuador, South America


San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal Island

I almost couldn’t bear the muggy air. I started to wonder if I would have to be peeled off my seat in order to get out at our next stop.

“Is it always this hot here?” I asked Eduardo, the stocky, dark-skinned man to my left.

“Not all the time, but right now it’s the wet season in the Galápagos. So, there’s lots of rain, sun and humidity,” answered the middle-aged gentleman.

“Will it cool down soon?” I further pried.

“Probably not until May,” responded the fast-talking Ecuadorian.

“Only two more months of sweating,” I remarked.

“Yeah, but this is the prettiest time of year. Everything is green,” the San Cristóbal resident added while stepping on the accelerator.

Wondering why she was so quiet, I glanced in the passenger side mirror to see my blue-eyed, strawberry-blonde girlfriend, Amanda, transfixed by the lush,
dense forests that lined both sides of the dirt road. She took turns gazing through each of the vehicle’s windows as the small, silver pickup raced uphill.

“You can feel the difference in temperature,” our guide pointed out, noticing that I was waving my right arm up and down through the afternoon air. “It’s cooler in the highlands than it is on the coast.”
In the midst of appreciating a pair of San Cristóbal Island’s picturesque lookout points, we stopped next to a roadside shack. Behind the white, tin roofed structure was a small house resting in a tree with branches that spanned across my peripheral vision. It was enormous.

La Casa del Ceibo

La Casa del Ceibo

“Do you want to see La Casa del Ceibo?” Eduardo inquired while facing Amanda and me. We nodded.
Our chauffer followed as we slowly balanced our way across the timber planks that swayed a couple of stories above ground. Clinging to the roped railings,
we eventually wobbled our way to a wooden ladder, which was firmly attached to the Ceibo’s massive trunk. We then ascended a handful of rungs and
found ourselves standing in a den not much bigger than a walk-in closet.

To our left sat a small counter and behind it was a tiny fridge as well as a few bottles of soda. I walked to the other side of the room and opened the door of
what appeared to be a closet. It was the bathroom. Seeing that the toilet was suffocated by the thin panels surrounding it, I wondered how anyone could fit inside.
Unimpressed by the restroom, I glanced at the cramped loft above it and noticed pillows and blankets. I also imagined people hitting their heads on the ceiling
if they stood up.

“You can rent this place for just a few dollars per night,” Eduardo suddenly said from behind us.
Reading the expression on one another’s face, it was obvious Amanda and I weren’t interested.
Instantly picking up on the fact that my girlfriend and I wouldn’t be filling the vacancy, Eduardo claimed he knew of something that would definitely catch our
interest. He looked outside and asked us to quickly follow him back to the truck because the sun was fading fast.

La Lobería

La Lobería

At breakneck speed, our driver furiously descended the refreshing hills and reentered the sultry coastland. In no time at all, Eduardo pulled into a dusty lot
and jumped out of the pickup.
“C’mon, c’mon!” he shouted as Amanda and I swiftly exited the vehicle. Eduardo was already several meters ahead, looking over his right shoulder
and waving us towards him while he stepped onto the black and bumpy beach known as La Lobería.

“There are iguanas here, I know it!” screamed Eduardo, skipping along the raven coastline, darting from volcanic rock to volcanic rock. Amanda and I lagged
behind, balancing on the slippery, dimpled stones as the sun began to set over San Cristóbal’s southern end. No matter how hard we tried, we  couldn’t
keep up with our determined chauffer, who had apparently rediscovered his youth. Just as he began to disappear in the distance ahead, he
abruptly stopped, looking at an area of black rocks to his right.

A couple minutes later, Amanda and I caught up to Eduardo; he hadn’t budged the entire time he waited for us.

“Look over there,” he said, pointing to a spot a few feet away from the ocean. We turned to see a huge iguana catching the day’s last few rays. The scaly,
fat-bellied reptile was the size of a duffle bag, sporting a tail longer than its body. Our presence didn’t seem to bother it; it stood like a statue,
never taking its eyes off the Pacific.

I decided to follow the iguana’s lead and soak in the ocean view. The midnight shoreline, turquoise water, and dimming sunlight reflecting off the massive
white waves proved to be a beautiful combination. I had never witnessed anything like it. I looked at Amanda and could easily see that she too was amazed by the
panorama. La Lobería was truly one of a kind. We had a good feeling about the upcoming week. Despite being just a couple of hours off the plane, we could
already tell that the Galápagos was a place like no other.

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