“What? You lived two and a half months on the Galapagos? That must be amazing.“ – was everyone’s reaction after telling them my recent travel history. And indeed it was the best decision I could make as a start in my new life.
The time on the Galapagos Islands was incredible. People often stay only five days and fall in love. I was able to live there like a local. Having my routine. Going to the same places. Meeting new people every day. And getting to know the area quite well.
Even though I wanted to leave the island at some point (mainly just to have something else to eat), I loved it there. I loved the quiet and relaxed way of life, the people, the weather, the animals and everything around it.
I often caught myself giving advice and going into raptures about the islands when meeting someone who will be headed there in the nearer future, while being on the Ecuadorian mainland.
One evening I sat in a bar with a friend who stayed on the Galapagos for the same amount of time talking about what we are going to miss. Today I want to share those thoughts with you. Things I miss about being on the Galapagos and other typical circumstances the islands provide.
Part of my daily routine was listening to the sound of sea lions, seeing Blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and pelicans flying around, and iguanas and crabs crawling around the rocks. It’s just unique. I often took some time to sit on a bench for only a couple of minutes and saw so many different species around me that it sometimes seemed unreal. It was still something special everytime I sat there even though I have been there for weeks.
I’ve never been to a place with such an abundance of wildlife before. And I have to admit that I’m not the greatest animal lover. I’m not a big fan of cats and dogs scare me off.
But this was different. Animals live in their natural environment and live quietly next to humans. They just pass you without really noticing as if you’re part of the system. Part of nature and don’t feel disturbed. Except for people putting their camera in front of a sea lion chief’s face – those people get their reaction of course. But that’s another thing. If you leave them alone and observe, they live their life and you can observe them. All day long. There will always be another animal coming around.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is like a village. After a couple of weeks I was not able to leave my house without meeting anyone I knew. On the long run, it would piss me off as everyone is knowing more about your life than you do about your own. People are talking and talking and stories change. But for this short amount of time, I enjoyed it a lot.
It felt more like home. Like you belong to this place and feel comfortable staying there for a while. You know the guy from the diving shop, the waiters in the restaurants, the naturalist guides, the women in the speed boat shop, receptionists of hotels, the owners of my favorite bar and the list goes on. My working routine made me getting to know a lot of local people mainly working in tourism.
But even though you don’t know a person, almost everyone will say hello to you and greet you with a smile on the street. As I said it’s small and it was a great change and a kind of cultural shock heading to a huge city like Guayaquil afterwards.
The people of Galapagos are a great bunch of people. They care a lot for their environment but as well help you with everything as much as they can without expecting something back. When you ask for help they try to figure out a way to help you until they found a solution.
I haven’t been to a safer place in my life. Seriously. Can you tell me a place where you walk outside in the middle of the night, there is no one on the street and you still feel completely safe?
I can’t think of another place. But that’s how I felt there. Whether it was during the day or during the night, people lived their life in peace and quiet. A friend said to me “On San Cristobal you could probably forget your purse in a bar and would still get it back on the next day.“ I didn’t try it but I can imagine that it’s true.
Well, food supply was my biggest problem there. They had good and fresh food but after a while you just cannot see the same things over and over again. At least I need variety. As the Galapagos are islands almost everything has to be flewn in.
And I came to a point I didn’t want to eat any more rice. And yes, that’s almost impossible when you don’t want to spend 10 US-Dollars for a meal.
All these “I have to have different food“ moments and “I have to leave“ moments happened after about 1.5 months but I’ll tell you, you get used to it. I’ve never thought I’m gonna say this but I got used to have rice as a side dish every time I eat out. And when I got the chance later to eat more internationally in Banos, I still went to the local restaurants selling “almuerzos“ (lunch) or “meriendas“ (dinner) not only because it’s the cheapest option but because I really got used to my rice. The evolution took place in myself as well.
Shops do not have regular opening hours. There are shops which are open from 9 AM until late. Some are closed during lunch time and open again at 2 or 3 PM. Some are closed on Sundays. Some are closed on Sundays. You cannot figure it out. Shop owners can decide it for their own which makes it sometimes difficult to find a cafe with wifi connection or some special food supplies especially on a Sunday afternoon. But you get used to everything.
When I travelled to the mainland of Ecuador afterwards and headed to a supermarket, I noticed that prices are ridiculous in comparison with the rest of Ecuador. You pay twice as much or even more for everything you buy in a supermarket. For a European or American citizen if you don’t know the prices on the mainland, some are still alright but some things like cheese, bread or shampoo are just crazily overpriced due to the fact that it comes from far away.
Nonetheless, you are able to live quite on a budget if you do it right. If you know where to buy what, cook at home and sometimes have a lunch or dinner outside. You can have the usual almuerzos or meriendas for 3.5$ to 5$ on San Cristobal Island if you know where to go. I will soon publish a very detailed post about San Cristobal Island/Puerto Baquerizo Moreno as well as a post about usual prices on the Islands, so stay tuned and subscribe to my post updates below if you don’t want to miss it.
Would you like to live on the Galapagos Islands for a while? Or do you prefer bigger cities?
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