GPS – GYE – UIO – MIA – YYZ

We got up early on Sunday morning, had our breakfast, and watched the seal floating around in the hotel pool. So adorable. We then took a taxi to the dock to catch the ferry to Isla Baltra.

The ride was hair raising, as they all seem to be. At one point the driver had to go around a parked piece of construction equipment and nearly crashed into a truck coming the other way.

Ferry ride across and then a longish wait on the other side for the bus to come. There was one waiting when we arrived but it was already packed full of people. We decided to wait for another one.

During the 40 minute wait, trucks kept coming, delivering or picking up people desperate to get to the airport, rather than wait. They stood up in the back, reminding us of the desperation of refugees just to get somewhere – even for a price.

Eventually two buses came, we pushed our way through the people who’d pushed in front of us and got to the airport. Quick check-in then we ordered some grilled chicken and rice for lunch. Soon we boarded and were flying back to Guayaquil.

Like on the way over, when we landed we stayed on the plane which then took us to Quito. Another insane taxi ride through the busy city (120km at one point, zipping around cars so fast that I felt queasy and in fear of my life and those around us).

The taxi driver tried to engage us in conversation but our Spanish couldn’t cope. We eventually figured out that he was asking us how long we were in Quito for, where we were going from there and when we would be going. All of this so he could get the return fare. Despite our fear, I was impressed with his entrepreneurial approach and arranged for him to pick us up at 6:45 the next morning.

We stayed at the Royal Dan Carlton this time, a very posh looking hotel that I was surprised I’d booked. We looked less than presentable with our travel clothes and backpacks but hey, we’d paid for the place. The guy at the front desk was less than pleasant, an anomaly in Ecuador as people have generally been pretty helpful. I thought his attitude might have been specifically because of us but after observing him this morning with other guests, I realised it’s just him.

Our room was beautiful. Queen size bed, bathroom, a table and lounge. Nice and spacious. We went for a walk around the block but didn’t find anywhere to eat so we ordered room service instead and watched tv.

This morning we were up at 5:30, showered, got dressed, finished packing and went for breakfast in the hotel. There was a massive buffet spread, all for the very reasonable price of $13 each.

Returning to the elevator, we saw out the front of the hotel our taxi driver waiting. We picked up our luggage, checked out and got in the cab. The ride was less scary this time (though there were still a few frightening moments).

Checked in at the airport, cleared immigration, Glen bought some Ecuadorean cups, and then boarded our half-full flight to Miami.

When we landed we had to go through border control and collect our luggage. On the way from Toronto, we were told by US Customs that, as we weren’t married, we had to fill in a blue form each. This is despite us being a couple and living together and sharing finances. So, not wanting to go through more hassle when reaching Miami, Glen and I filled out a form each. You can probably guess what happened next.

I went up and handed over my form. The guy asked if I had been travelling with anyone and I said I had, with Glen, who was still in queue. He asked about the nature of our relationship and I said he was my partner and that we lived together. He said I only needed to fill out one form and that covered the two of us.

I queried him on this, telling him about our trouble on the way over. He said they had received an email last week that couples in there same household (ie living at the same address) are to be treated as a family, and therefore go through on one form. Glen got called over and we proceeded through together, glad to finally have someone reasonable.

Glen wonders if the tweet he wrote about it and the blog post he did on our treatment in Toronto prompted that email to be sent around. I’m sceptical but it would be nice to think that someone had taken notice.

Luggage collected, then through customs and then rechecking the luggage and back through security. We bought burgers, ate them and went to the gate. Apparently our flight to Toronto was full (though I noticed a few empty seats) as the airline was asking for three passengers to take later flights. They would be given $500 each and travel/hotel vouchers. They must have got the people they wanted because the plane took off on time.

Landed in Toronto with about four hundred other flights. I’ve never seen immigration that busy before. When we got out, we noticed Monika and Christian’s flight had landed an hour early so we’re both waiting for them all to come out.

The Galápagos Islands holiday is at an end. We’ve seen some amazing things and been on boat rides I’d rather forget, but now that we’re back in Canada, the whole trip has left me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Swimming with seals and penguins and SEA TURTLES was truly magical and I’m so grateful for having been able to do it.

What do you say, eh?

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