This is what it's like to organise a last minute cruise to The Galapagos
Every day on the Galapagos Islands is like National Geographic.
Except for our guide, Galo, who bore no resemblance whatsoever to David Attenborough.
Galo was more like Ken.
Ken, after he’d left Barbie and gone rogue, dropping off the radar for a while only to resurface in South America as a tanned Navy Seal with the same slick backed hair and a penchant for wearing his uniform one size too small, highlighting biceps tightly strained against taut fabric that was in constant danger of being torn by one misdirected flex.
Underneath this thrilling exterior lay an abundance of knowledge and authentic passion about the Galapagos Islands.
But before there was Galo, there was the tiny matter of organising a last minute cruise to the Galapagos Islands.
Pre-booking on a backpackers budget was out of the question.
When not hiking volcanos at high altitude and eating lots of Ecuadorian popcorn (that could of been just us), most backpackers in Quito are organising a last minute cruise to the Galapagos.
There's two ways most people attempt Galapagos: Last minute cruise, or DIY island hopping. We went for both. As far as bucket list excursions went, Galapagos was our big ticket item.
It was also Hamez’.
(Side note: For necessities and funsies sake, our European names were forgone in favour of the Spanish versions for the entire trip. Really, Hamez is Grant, but every Spanish speaker preferred to ignore this and skip ahead to his second name James. Jade was a absolute a stumbling block of a name pronounced Ha-day ever since Cuba, with no change until Brazil, where she became Sha-dee. I was simply Daniella, as if the 'e' on the end of my name was a typo).
We'd met Hamez at Community Hostel in Quito. Arriving a week before us, he was already in communication via South Americas preferred method of organisation, what’s app voice messages, with Eddie, a tour guide operator on the islands, responsible for filling spaces for cruises on the Anahi.
The Anahi was recommended to us from friends back home, so naturally we joined Hamez in depositing large sums of cash into an unknown bank account via Eddies stress-inducing directions.
Then we booked plane tickets with the help of a back-packer sympathetic travel agent for the next day.
Hey, it’s last minute cruising.
We packed our bags in a flurry of ecstatic excitement bordering on hysteria that our cash deposit had contributed to nothing except the beginnings of a classic bad travel story. (Eased only somewhat by Eddies WhatsApp message that he’d received said deposit and was off to the strip club).
We flew into the tiny, dusty roads of San Cristobal the next day.
There were sea lions everywhere.
All along the beach, draped over rocks, waddling along the wooden boardwalks down by the dock and dragging themselves up onto benches wherever they pleased.
By the end of our time there, sea lions had become the norm.
You get used to them being around in unusual places, like big blubbery pets.
The following day, we took a boat to Santa Cruz.
We walked up to Galapagos Best Options, where Eddie (he existed, hoorah!) was waiting ready to fit us for wetsuits for the cruise.
The water in the Galapagos in August-September is cold. We’re talking blue lips and goosebumps cold. If you can take, it it’s worth it. Colder water temperatures means there’s more to see under the sea, and the Anahi defied South American showers odds to stay hot every single time.
Before we were to take a ride in a rubber ducky to the stern of Anahi, we took a short boat road from the main dock in Santa Cruz, over to another part of the island.
Following the path, we walked through a beach crunchy with shells and crabs that scuttled along sideways sporting mismatched claws. With one huge claw and one tiny nipper they looked like crustacean Dr Jekylls' and Mr Hydes' trying to outrun themselves.
The crabs sidled along and we continued to follow the path which led us down a small hill.
At the bottom lay a turquoise blue, mermaid worthy ocean water pool positioned between two wall cliffs.
The pools are called Las Grietas and if you are ever on Santa Cruz with an afternoon to spare, you have to go.
We walked back along the dusty path a few hours later, with more crabs ambling at our feet, caught the boat back to Galapagos Best Options and jumped in the jeep bound for a rubber ducky pick up.
The late afternoon sun was low when we reached the pick up point.
An hour later, Oma, Anahi chef-cum-rubber ducky captain arrived.
We tumbled onboard and speed out to sea as the sun came down fast in a strong red glow.
Bathed in the light of the sun, The Anahi looked like the mirage it had felt like to organise only a few days before.
The rubber ducky pulled us up in style and we spilled on board the back of The Anahi half a day late, landing in front of the other passengers like a last minute catch of the day.
The best was yet to come.