I have been back for a week now. My blood pressure has gone up several points since my return.
It is easy to forget the trauma a country may be going through when you’re a tourist. Especially when you’re in a UNESCO World Heritage Site like the Galapagos. You return to your own country and see how quickly everything has gone to hell in a very large hand basket.
I don’t want to write about the impeachment. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I don’t want to start crying. I don’t care who wins this (I’m not a 49ers fan) since whoever it is, it won’t be the Patriots. It’s all good.
A couple of final notes about travel:
Ecuador is smart. Unlike other countries that might peg their currency to the U.S. dollar, Ecuador simply uses U.S. currency. Which a) saves them all the costs of minting and printing and b) means U.S. tourists don’t have to muck around with currency conversion. (Not that the last is smart, per se, it just makes travel easier for people like me.) They tend do favor dollar coins — especially odd Presidents. Therefore I own (in addition to Sacajaweas) a James Monroe (not that odd) and a Franklin Pierce (really, pretty odd). I was hoping for a Milliard Fillmore or Chester Alan Arthur, but no such luck.
I have been reminded how exhausting moving through water is. After snorkeling on the boat trip, I needed several wonderful deck hands to move back onto the boat. The water holds me up — gravity not so much. Since my current plan to start exercising involves water walking (I have found a warm pool that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg), I need to remember that.
I tended think of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as being properly developed and “Western.” The Galapagos is not, although there are streets on San Cristobal that are. I worry about the economic well-being of the people. Especially as tourism is a major industry and the country is trying to reduce tourism to the islands.
Their reasons make sense: like National Parks in the U.S., the islands are being loved to death. Ecuador is talking about doubling the access fee for the islands. It make sense, but tends to place the islands beyond the reach of the less-than-wealthy. People who are shelling out large sums for cruises won’t feel it — much — but others might. Personally, I think they should have a lottery for each islands. Give the cruise companies a certain number for each island, and place the rest in a lottery.
I wish I had been in Quito during the daylight. I imagine it is interesting. We did go into town during our massive layover on our way home to see a pretty student production at the Ballet Folklorico. Oh, and on our way to the Galapagos we stayed at the Quito airport Westin which is my favorite (non-historic) hotel not called Ritz-Carleton.
So, I have returned. I kind of wish I hadn’t.