Thursday, January 10, 2013

From Tearful Good-Byes to Ruff Nights

North Seymour 

6:30 Dry landing – closed shoes, rocky trail, frigate birds expedition
8:00 Back on board
9:15 transfer out.

Last night, 6:30 am sounded so very early to leave, but I was up at 4:30 and could not fall asleep again. Ron got up because I set the alarm a half hour too early, so we were up before the crew. Some were dozing in the lounge. No coffee yet! Get to work and get the coffee brewing.

Another, but the last rocky trail to execute our balancing skills is the mornings off shore experience finale, before leaving for the airport. I realized that what makes these rocky trails especially difficult with a group is trying to plan your steps from one rock to another. Sometimes I have my next stepping stone all planned, but the person ahead of me decides to either stop for a photo or back-up. While I am in mid-stride, I have to do an immediate reconnoitering to decide where I am going to land. Sometimes the results are disastrous as I sail through the air like Dumbo without the gracefulness. For someone my size, I do have narrow feet for a man. The US American male average is a D width, but mine is a C, making them too slender to keep balance all that well. Thankfully, I never aspired to being a trapeze artist.
On the frigate bird expedition we learned the differences between the Great and Magnificent versions, the latter have a purple stripe on its back. They are not cross mating birds so they stick to their own kind. Birds of a feather frock together, but don’t tolerate mixed relationships. Fortune was with us to see a few of the males extend their usual floppy red pouches until they looked like they were having one of those party contests where you hold a balloon under your chin trying to pass it on to the next person. Females are attracted to the largest distended neck and choose their mate based on a size factor. Large chicks in training were all over the trees as well, gaining their courage and getting life coaching to take off on their own. Frigates have to capture their fish without landing on the water. Their feathers don’t have the oils needed to keep them water repellent, with a drowning result if they are not careful.

Blue footed boobies were on call also. I have to admit these are the only birds I was excited to see; they are my favorites. Their feet start out a dark greyish blue, but get more vibrant as they mature. BFB bodies are not much to brag about, so if they didn’t have the blue feet, they would probably not draw any near as much attention. We never did see the red footed booby, but we did have ample opportunity for the Naszca booby.

Breakfast was ready when we returned, our last one on board this boat with this group of people. Soon, we will all set off on our different ways, trying to keep in touch via e-mail or in some cases Facebook. As time goes by, it will be interesting to see who keeps in touch. We have had people we met years ago on safaris, come to stay with us at our B and B. Maybe we can meet for a European reunion.

With all of our luggage placed in the lounge, we each did our last minute tasks: filling out evaluation forms, saying good-bye to the staff, rechecking rooms for forgotten items, and getting shoes on for the last dinghy ride this trip. Our luggage went ahead of us, so it and the bus to the airport were waiting for us when we arrived. This was the challenging part saying good-bye to the few who were not flying on with us. Then it was cumbersome yet again at when we arrived in Quito wishing well those who were going onward to other places or to home.

Once again, I was totally impressed with the AeroGal flight. We went from Baltra to Guayaquil about a 2 hour flight, left passengers there and then continued on to Quito adding another 30-45 minutes. The service on the first leg included a cold, but lovely lunch. On the second segment, it was a drink service.   

Our agency had arranged a pick-up at the airport, so there was no need for a taxi. Neither the driver nor the escort knows how to reach our hotel, our third one in Quito. It is called Colonial House because the building is 200 years old and protected by the historical society. When we did approach it, I was not amused by our choice. It seemed far away from most things and not a fabulous looking neighborhood. Yet, it did get rave reviews on TripAdvisor and 

We were greeted by Paco, the first time we had heard that name here. He is young, friendly, with excellent English skills, which seemed to disintegrate as the hours passed. We arrived at 4 pm. Our confirmation stated that we could check in any time after 6:30 am, unusually early, but what the heck. However, as Paco was giving us a tour, of the dining room, kitchen, computer room, game room, and outdoor garden with patio, he was also informing us that the people in our room would not be leaving until 9 pm. What? 

Ron spent some time outside talking to a Canadian couple looking to move to Ecuador so they are doing the feasibility trip to check it out along with a month of Spanish lessons in another town. There was also a professor from Colorado who came and went during the conversation. Excusing myself, I headed to a table in the garden to check e-mail and start the uploading of blog posts. Once I had a handle on it, I joined the group conversation. Oh, yea! In the garden, the hostel has chickens, including a rooster, two ducks, and four rabbits.

Deciding it was long due for dinner, our Canadian friend suggested a local Italian restaurant to which we poo-pooed and said we wanted something local. Big mistake in this neighborhood. The local cooking is primarily street meet for street meat with Mama setting up her hibachi right outside her door while she cooks mystery meat on a stick. The end all was to go to a local Ecuadorian version of a fast food restaurant. I ordered the chicken combo, which was fine until they brought the soup. I spooned the broth, found something floating that was white as fresh snow, but had claws. There was a full and complete chicken foot in my soup. Waiter, there is something foul going on here.

Arriving back at the hotel by 8:00, we half expected to be able to check in when we returned, but this was not the case. We had to wait for the others to leave the room at 9 pm and then have it cleaned. They called it the ‘matrimonial’ room as it is the only one with a private bathroom, but a single bed. There are no words to describe the fumes that were emitting from my heat, but Ron found a comfy sofa and fell asleep.

On the top floor, they did assist with the luggage, but we were located right across from the television lounge which adjoins the 2nd community kitchen. The owner seemed a little embarrassed by the delay in our getting our room, so she showed me the lovely view out the window, if we stood on one leg, leaned to the right, held on so as not to fall, and look over the other buildings. 

9:47 pm there is a dog barking in the street right under our window. There is another dog competing somewhere toward the back of the building. 11:59 pm the dogs have not stopped barking. Took a sleeping aid, but still nothing has kicked in. Finishing my book and then will try. This is the smallest double bed I have slept in. Not a happy camper.

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