Tag Archives: Ecuador

Being “censored” on the Galapagos..only me could manage this!

2 Dec

So there I was fulfilling a lifelong dream to be in the Galapagos.

Travelling around these amazing islands, soaking up the wildlife, swimming with sea lions almost touching my nose, swimming with tortoises, having sting rays passing through my legs, photographing (yes over a hundred photos of these guys) the dinosaur like iguanas…..my cruise finished and I thought I’d head to the largest island in the Galapagos group…Isabella Island…it all started off quite well…well the boat trip over was hellish to be honest…2 hours of having every bone in my body shaken to oblivion..but that was soon forgotten when I checked into a little family run hostel with a kid running around saying “papi” and went out on the town…still all was well…there was a fiesta on…to celebrate recycling…this came with music and free food on an enormous bbq for all, even tourists….so a nice night…

The next day I headed off to Cerro Negra the volcano…saw the world’s second largest caldera, walked for hours with wonderful views of the rest of the island…my goodness what a barren place..no fresh water and no roads for all 180 km of it..returned to the hostel about 5…went out..sourced some Galapagos oranges to eat…at 4 for 50 cents they were the cheapest food on the island…decided to wait a little later to buy a beer…so chilled for a bit…reflected on the day…thought about the cute sea lions again…and then decided at about 7 that it was beer o’clock…so headed out…first shop told me that they couldn’t sell beer…it was against the law….thought this required further investigation…second shop said the same….man from the laundrette said the same….third shop..ditto…fourth shop…beer fridge emptied to save on pain….try a restaurant I thought…resto across from hostel selling parilla for $4.50…not bad for the Galapagos…try to order beer with meal…forbidden…

What was going on?

I wonder sometimes how I manage it…being in paradise…wildlife second to none…so much to explore…but hey ho…managed to plan my trip to the Galaps right when the day of the 10 yearly, yes 10 yearly, census falls…and what’s more the president decided that this year everyone had to stay in their homes between 7am and 5 pm while the census was being done. Of course i thought this would only apply to locals..how could it apply to silly tourists…but apply it did as the local police confirmed to me in consultation with the “census officer”.

Of course, I did try to slip out of the hostel just to get some air on the street outside…Puerto Villamil on the Galaps has a handful of people in it..but all day the police patrolled up and down the dirt streets and made sure that no one “censored” broke the census rules…what a day…a fellow tourist attempted a walk to the “wall of tears” (a wall built by convicts who were the previous wildlife on the Galaps) only to be frogmarched back to his hostel…it was a long day and without even a slight hangover to get over….still only a one in a million chance that I will make the same mistake again in ten years’ time!


The competitive traveller – Part 2

30 Nov

The last few weeks I’ve not done much blogging.

Why’s that?

Well I’ve realised that I’ve actually fallen into my own competitive traveller categories and in particular the competitive numerical traveller and the competitive local experience traveller. I’ve been travelling a bit faster. I never really move too fast me. Always feel that if I move too fast I miss out on stuff so tend to slow it down, breathe and enjoy where I am. But the last few weeks have seen me crossing from Colombia into Ecuador, doing couch surfing for the first time and having a wonderful “competitive local experience” while on the Quilitoa route – I mean who wouldn’t walk into a shop and ask a local family if you can spend the night with them rather than with the snooty Dutch pair who run the over-priced and under atmospheric hostel in Isinlivi?

I’ve met “competitive animal spotters” in the Galapagos Islands, become a “competitive foreign language speaker” and a competitive budget traveller (cue turning up on Isla Isabella in the Galapagos only to be told that I was trapped there owing to the census with a budget of about 10 dollars a day in one of the most expensive places I’ve ever been).

And now it’s time for me to become a competitive blogger again….

As I travel the competitive travellers just seem to swarm around me like flies. I try to swat them off but not before I’ve listened to their incredulous tales…

Competitive group travellers

This lot travel as a pack. Commonly Australian. You’ll know them as they will take over the whole hostel you’re staying in and know each other inside out.

They come in groups of 10 or more.

They will regale you with stories of “this one time in a hostel in Taganga we just, like, took over the whole place man and had this wild party”. They may be wearing a “Loki” (a chain of party hostels) t-shirt and will generally only stay in places which are “party hostels” (ie horrid, noisy and with little chance of sleep for us lesser mortals).

They may still have on an arm band from their last party hostel, after all these travellers drink and take so many other substances that they need to wear a band around their wrist so they can be taken home when lost and unconscious. You can’t expect them to remember where they’re staying. They are simply too busy having fun.

All stories start with “this one time when we were all in….”. You can try to take part in their stories but let’s face it if you weren’t there you’re not part of the group and can’t really share their tales.

They may also regale you with stories of competitive drinking and competitive drug taking “this one time I took so much blah blah blah I didn’t wake up for 3 days and then it was in another village, man”.   The others in the group will, of course, laugh at this….but really it’s just all, dull, dull, dull.

These guys speak a little Spanish. Not too much. They know the words for “copious amounts of alcohol” and “where is the nearest party hostel”. They don’t need much else after all in their “group” they all speak English.

Competitive language travellers

These guys are so smart you’ll want to start your life from scratch and take a leaf out of their book. They can speak so many languages and so fluently that’ll you’ll feel constantly thick in their company. They claim to just “pick up” the lingo as they go. They claim not to have studied any of these languages at a language school or some other sad place. But when you cross examine them in more detail you’ll probably find that these guys are “secret studiers” and probably a grammar book or phrase book will fall out of their bag which they’ll claim they’re carrying for a friend, a likely story me thinks.

Of course, they won’t only speak “normal” languages like Spanish or French or something like that which most schools subject their pupils to.

No, these guys will speak Quichua, and when you say do you mean Quechua they will look at you with derision in their eyes and say “not Quechua, Quichua, the indigenous language of Ecuador stupid….pani imanalla” (which translates as “how are you in Quichua?”)

These guys can’t only speak the local language but every language of every one wherever they are. You’ll probably know this guy as the one who doesn’t waste his time speaking to you in English. English is for losers after all….try learning Hungarian he will say..

Competitive music instrument travellers

You’ll recognise this one from about a mile away….she’s the one struggling off the bus not only carrying a rucksack packed full to the brim with crap (she’s definitely not a competitive gear traveller, those guys would make mincemeat of her rucksack (well 2 rucksacks actually and the funny shaped box which is hard on the outside but ever so difficult to carry).

Of course later in the hostel…bad luck to any of you guys who end up in the same hostel as this one…out will come the funny shaped box…you’ll feel obliged to ask what it is…but of course it won’t be some normal instrument like a guitar, it’ll be an indigenous musical instrument whose name you don’t know…she’ll then describe for you its origins, the number of strings it has (as if you care) and how frighteningly difficult it is to tune and to play. She’ll say the name of the instrument so quickly “charango” for example that you’ll think it’s a triangle she’s playing. You’ll ask her how difficult can a triangle be to play and she look at you scornfully…and repeat it’s a “charango”. She’ll then show you it. You’ll be trying hard not to like it, after all what a bloody stupid thing to travel with…but you’ll have to admit that it is super cute…and when she plays it does sound quite nice though one too many of those Bolivian folk songs could give you a headache.

This one speaks a bit of Spanish and knows the word for “rhythm” and “chords” in Spanish which to be honest is pretty useless unless she happens to bump into another Spanish speaking charango player…unlikely…only tourists buy stupid things like these…

Competitive long travellers

You’ll start the conversation with “how long have you been travelling then”…you might not want to hear the answer but it’s a good conversation starter. The answer, delivered nonchalantly, “15 years, you?”. You don’t really know where to start with a conversation with this guy. So sometimes it’s better to just stop there and move on….with “dash I’ve left my dinner cooking in the kitchen, man, better go”…after all 15 years of travel stories is enough to put anyone off travelling for life….

Right better go just now…in the middle of a local experience here in Quito…more competitive travellers soon though….

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