There is nothing more beautiful than nature. I was so happy out in the Galapagos Islands.
The wildlife out there is fearless and the waves are good. The climate is warm and dry like central Baja, but it is covered with lush and tropical vegetation. The food was natural and delicious because everything is grown locally and pesticides are illegal on the islands. The locals are very friendly and hospitable. I had a really good time in the Galapagos.
Getting there was a nightmare, though.
I reserved a nice seat on the fancy express bus, but as it turned out that bus never showed up at the station. After a couple hours of waiting, at around midnight, the local bus came by. I had to take it, otherwise I would miss my flight.
The local bus stopped every 20 minutes, the windows didn’t open, there was no AC, it was packed with people, and the toilet in the back was overflowing. It was around 100 degrees in there, with no lights and no airflow.
When I got the the Peru/Ecuador border, it turned out to be closed. Since that area is so sketchy, the bus driver locked us in the bus for the night. The air was so rank and stale, and I was so claustrophobic in the dark, that I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack.
Also, it didn’t help that the cockroaches were venturing out of the overflowing toilet and crawling all over the place.
After a couple hours of negotiations, the driver was finally able to bribe the border guards into letting the bus cross before daybreak. Everyone on the bus chipped in on the bribe. The power was out in the customs office, so we were illegally stamped and sent across.
When we got to Ecuador we had to clear customs again, and this time their office was closed. Since we were held up for over eight hours from the start, our timing was terrible. At least in Ecuador we were not locked in the bus and could get out to use the bathroom and drink some water. Only problem was that there were relentless mosquitoes outside.
When the Ecuadorian customs office finally opened and we all cleared, it took another day to ride up to the airport. The bus driver was getting paid off to stop every few blocks to run special routes for locals. I would have jumped off that bus in a heartbeat if we had any other option of getting to the airport. We were stuck.
All in all, the 500-mile nightmare bus ride lasted over 30 hours. I never slept a wink, I was robbed by a guy with a pistol during a transfer, and it was my birthday.
When I made it to the airport, I was going crazy with insomnia and Third World politics. The ticket agent at the check-in counter must have seen it in my eyes because, without saying anything, he upgraded me to first class.
Once I was on the plane and in the air, I took a deep breath and the trip really turned around.
I had an incredible time in the Galapagos, but I will never take a bus in Ecuador ever again.