It is humid with 35°C. This is normal for the Ecuador, and it would not matter much if at this very moment we were on the beach. Our suvival suits are waiting to be put on. They are heavy, warm, tight. Our airplane is small, no air conditioning, we are sweating. A long over water flight lies before us. Galapagos…. Everything is ready. No second thought, a quick jump in our survival suits, quick into the plane.
Manta, Ecuador to Isla Isabela. 5 hours. Just water, no landing place in between. The life raft is well attached to the plane. In the emergency pack ist the water maker, some survival food and a bottle of water for each. The fuel in Ecuador is not the best, so we add some fuel booster to it.
Water over water. Detlef gets tired, he takes a 5 minutes nap. I look underneath, just a freighter. 16°C at 8000 feet. Still too hot for the survival suits. The cabin ventilation is fully open, but that doesn`t change anything. My feet are starting to swim in the boots from my own sweat. Still 4 and a half hours more. After two hours we start to sip on our water, just little by little. Sorry, no WC in this plane!!
As lunch we have some mandarins, they are too sour and full of pits. Usually the grapes are better. Galapagos is now just 2 hours distance. Now we change frequency for Baltra, Galapagos. Again a nap, well just closing the eyes, no real sleep, our T-shirts underneath are wet. I dream of a shower, of taking off this weight. The cabin is too small. My arm is behind my neck, to give Detlef more space.
In the distance we see heavier clouds, that must be the Galapagos. What else could it be!! Approaching the islands I try ,if I can see the famous turtles.. at 2000 feet !!!
We take our suits off. The inside layer and ourselves seem as we would have landed in water. Galapagos park officials want to know how many suitcases we are taking our of airplane. Suitcases… do we look like an airliner? After a while, after taking off our suits and feeling a little bit more lighter, we make all the paper work, go to immigration and pay the 200$ for entry fee at the Galapagos.
Claudia Hodari invited us to her hostel to stay for free. With the view to the beach, with hundreds of iguanas greeting us every day, we now know: we made it! Our RV7 made it to here. There it sits brave and lonesome at the airport. Only the daily visit from a islander, that's all it gets to see.
Avgas? No, no avgas here at Isabela, and the fuel is just 85 octane. We have to fly to San Cristobal. San Cristobal: they have the precious fuel that should bring us back to mainland. 10$ per gallon! No other option. "Can we pay with Visa card?" "NO! PLAIN MONEY!"
At the bank we change the last Euros, take some money out of the ATM machine, but this is not enough to live all these days and to pay for the expensive excursions. Excursions cannot be paid with Visa card, there is NO bank at Isabela, and we just have 120$ in our pocket. 5$ per day for food, NO beer, NO restaurant, NO excursions by yacht.
Excursions are done by foot, there is no other choice. The shoes are worn out, our tan lotion is getting less. We need to buy another one, now less for food.
An island that wants to live on tourists and does not have a bank so they can draw money to spend… it is unbelievable!
Mainland of Ecuador
Due to the long waiting time for flight permission to other airports, we decided to explore the country by bus. The travelling is very tiring, many hours getting from one city to the other. Buses make hundreds of stops during the trip, picking up passengers, vendors, and just stopping for lunch.
The roads up the mountains without railing are made for good nerves. Dont look outside the window! Deep forest , little villages on unpaved roads, half made houses.. no real places to stay for a tourist.
Cuenca, a small town with French and Spanish architecture and with is hundreds of churches was worthwhile to see. Food is inexpensive and the fruit juices are just delicious, although the hygiene is very hard to find, and it is just a question of time, till you get the first diarrhea.
Manta offers lots of small fish restaurants near the beach with the smell of black waters and rotten fish. Cuenca has the specialty of the roasted pork and guinea pigs. Some street foods look really good, but we better don't taste them.
Who had one foot on the southern hemisphere and the other on the northern? It was fun, and just fort his we went to the town called: la MITAD DEL MUNDO ( the half of the world), a walk near a volcano, where people leave inside the crater, and back to Quito.
Ecuador has no general aviation, just like Peru. Lets say it this way, it has a handful of small airplanes and Peru has a total of 10 planes, and one flying school.
Back at Isabela
Detlef got bitten during the night by a rat. We ran to the hospital to know if there is rabies at isla Isabela. NO. That is good news, since this was the only vaccine we did not have, since Asia is still far away.
We are stuck at the Galapagos. This is how we feel. We want to leave!!! Since yesterday we have no internet in the whole island. No weather report. So we decided to stay …. What a funny sentence! In the morning we made a boat tour with a fishermen, who showed us the few penguins living on this islands. We are disappointed: from the hundreds and hundreds of sea lions and penguins the tourist information promised us to see, there are no more than a dozen of each species. Iguanas is the most popular creature and you can find it anywhere. Other tourist we talked to had the same feeling. What a fraud !
Isla Isabela, Puerto Villamil, a village of tin roofed and unfinished houses, with no finished interiors. No garden in front , just a kind of porch on which hangs a worn out hammock under a roof of dried out palm leaves . Most of the houses are falling apart, nobody seems to feel like working, just hanging on the hammock. They don't even greet you nor do they smile at you.
Our hostel lies in front of the beach. The sea is rough. It is every day rough, with no exception. Like after a storm. This is not our paradise, and people don't look so happy here. Just three foreigners live on the island, and the ones than come here as policeman or airport officers, just look forward in going back to mainland. Life is here too austere, too lonesome. Mainland is far away. Flights too expensive and the land too harsh.
April 10th 2010
Nothing worse than wanting to leave and not to be able. This is what happened to us in Peru. The waiting time for the flight permissions inside Peru took long, then the flight permission to Ecuador. When we had the Ecuador permission, the one from Peru expired. We were just lucky that the one from Peru came on time, before the one from Ecuador expired. Chris Laudrin was of great help with all the paper work. Whatever, it was a pity we could not fly more of Peru, just because of the permits.
After paying all the fees, (a total of 300U$ just for flight permissions) we were happy that we could finally fly out of Trujillo direct to Manta, Ecuador. Oh no, "you just have the permission to leave to Ecuador from Chiclayo, not from Trujillo!" I gues they just want to ruin our joy of flying..
Flight plan to Chiclayo. They have Avgas there, so we do not fuel here.
Avgas? Who told you such thing. Only Jet fuel available. Again stuck in Peru, somehow it starts to get a nightmare. Lets relax.. Is it ok if we go to buy some gas at the fuel station, anyway for us it is much better.
Again a phone call, yes, BUT... If one of us gets out, we have to pay, because we are not anymore a transit passenger.
I jump into a car full of oil, my white trousers will not be white anymore, but we need the fuel, then tomorrow the permission expires. We got up at 6 o´clock in the morning to be early enough in Ecuador. Meanwhile it is already one o´clock in the afternoon. Sunset is at 6 o´clock. The guy next to the driver had to hold the door of the car, since it was almost falling down. He was kind enough not to let me sit there, instead I sat near a greasy oil can.
No 95 octane at the gas station. Is there something that want us to stay in Peru?? Next gas station: 95 octane. The barrel of 20 gallons was filled and happily we returned to the plane. the tanks were filled up, we were sitting almost ready to start the engine, when a guy came :" you have to go to the office ".
Something wrong with the permit, that was our first thought. No, they just forgot to charge us the landing fee.
Now we are ready. We start the engine, we go to the runway. Push the throttle and let go!! We are in the air. There are still some miles before we cross the border, and then: please contact Guayaquil Radar!!
We made it, it seems unbeliveable. Lets not get too happy. Ecuador is just the same as Peru. Here we have a permit only until the 26th of April. Today we made the petition for renewing our permit for 30 days more to get on time to the Galapagos and to fly back. IFR is here a must. Almost daily there are low clouds and it is overcast.
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