Tuesday, 2 July
The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable; it seems to be a little world within itself; the great number of its inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere else.
««« CHARLES DARWIN »»»
As some of you have already guessed, the picture in the Hint post shows the feet of a blue-footed booby; not to be confused with these blue tootsies ;-) … yes, a special pedi in honor of our upcoming adventure.
With bits and pieces of the slowest-to-rotate areas of the globe — the Antarctic and the Arctic — under our belt, it’s time to speed things up and visit the fastest rotating place on Earth. At 1,040.4 mph (1,674.4 kph) that would be — drum roll, please — the EQUATOR! (I have MBZ to thank for that bit of trivia, which comes from this website.)
To be a bit more specific, we’re heading to Ecuador. Even more specifically, to the Galápagos Islands.
As many of you know, this is a busy year for us as we prepare to retire towards the end of 2012 and get on the road fulltime to travel the US and Canada in our motorhome. So, with all the work that those preparations entail, we took the easy way out in planning this adventure, complicating it only slightly by adding a few days on our own in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, before joining our Celebrity Xpedition voyage group. Once we do that, Celebrity will take care of getting us to/from and around the islands.
Google Maps image showing our route from Virginia to the Galápagos Islands via
Atlanta, Georgia; and a short stay in Quito, Ecuador.
Whenever we plan an expedition voyage, we look for as small a ship as possible to ensure a small group size. There are smaller ships that ply the Galápagos waters, but we decided to go with the Xpedition — for a couple of reasons: (1) landing parties are restricted to no more than 16, so the 90+ passenger capacity aboard the ship is a non-issue; (2) except for a few naysayers, the ship, the expedition staff, and the voyage all get consistently good reviews; (3) excellent first-hand recommendation from friends who’ve journeyed to the Galápagos aboard the Xpedition; and (4) the above-mentioned convenience factor of not having to deal with getting to/from the islands.
The 2,842-ton Celebrity Xpedition will be our home away from home for seven days.
Most of the great things we’ve heard about the Galápagos have come from people who visited before new rules went into effect this year to better protect the islands. Per these rules, alternating itineraries have been implemented for visiting what are dubbed the “tourist sites.” I have no problems with these conservation measures, and don’t expect that they will adversely impact our experience.
We initially booked Xpedition’s “B” itinerary. This was before we learned of the new rules. Hoping to see the waved albatross, which can’t be seen anywhere else on earth, and only on one island in the Galápagos, we switched to the “A” itinerary a few weeks later.
You know what they say about the plans of mice and men, right? A few months later, the Galápagos Islands National Park Service requested that Xpedition re-order its itineraries — at least that’s what we were told. And — you guessed it — we found ourselves on “B” again. We still had time to play the switcheroo game, but figured it must be providence and we’re meant to go on this itinerary. C’est la vie!
Xpedition's "B" Itinerary will take us to the islands annotated with red stars.
[base Map from Wikipedia]
And so the adventure starts tomorrow with one short and one short-ish flight to get us from Virginia to Ecuador via Atlanta, Georgia. It’s doubtful that I’ll be blogging during the trip; I plan to be busy enjoying what this new-to-us country has to offer. But you never know; there might be a teaser or two somewhere along the way :-) If not, join us mid-July when we resume our regularly scheduled programming — blogging, that is.