To the Galapagos

The area where we are waiting for our flight to the Galapagos is fairly small and, although it is still early when we arrive, it is already quite crowded. Luckily, there are a lot of chairs, so we settle in to wait.

Over the next four days cruise along and visit the enchanted Galapagos Islands, where you’ll see a variety of exotic wildlife. Fly from Quito to San Cristobal, the easternmost gateway to the islands. There, you’ll board your first class cruise boat, the Galapagos Explorer II, your base while exploring the islands.

We don’t expect our flight to be called for boarding for at least another 20 minutes when they announce boarding for a flight to Galapagos. Can we be leaving early? That would be so great. . . probably too good to be true. We listen more closely. My Spanish is pretty much limited to “hello,” “thank you,” “bathroom,” “price,” and most of the numbers between one and ten; but I am pretty this isn’t our flight.

It’s not. Soon they announce that our flight is delayed. Apparently the flight scheduled to go out before ours had mechanical problems. To prevent further delaying that flight, they took our plane. Now we are waiting for another plane to become available. I don’t like the fact that we will be late arriving in the Galapagos – possibly missing our scheduled activity for the afternoon, but it is a logical — and fair — solution.

Eventually we are headed across the tarmac and onto the plane.

We are flying on the Ecuadorian airline TAME. Our flight will stop in Guayaquil to pick up additional passengers, but we will not be allowed off the plane while there. I just want to get going. . . I’m eager for the next phase of our trip to begin!

Lane and I had requested seats together (apparently something you need to request if you want to be seated together on a South American flight) and find we are seated across the aisle from each other. While this is fine, it soon becomes clear that the remainder of my row won’t be boarding until Guayaquil. I slide over to the window and Lane joins me. Yay! We’ll have to move back to our assigned seats in Guayaquil, but we have lots of space — and a window — until then.

About the same time we notice that we are all seated in the back half of the plane – which is almost completely full. With the exception of one person in the very first row, no one is seated in the front third or more of the aircraft. Soon an announcement asks those sitting in the back to please move up to the front in order to “balance” the plane. How interesting.

I quickly discovered that the inflight magazine is also pretty interesting. For example, a story on Christmas traditions around the world, includes this information:

Ecuador maintains a tradition by which Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are celebrated with family with delicacies such as tamales or a giblets consomme’ . . . followed by varied turkey recipes, among which sausage and meat stuffed turkey is worth mentioning, without ignoring a turkey in plum or peach sauce.

It is important to point out that turkey is not a traditional white fowl meat in our country. It is said that its origins lie in the import of giant chickens from Turkey to the United States, which mentioned in their boxes the words “Chicken from Turkey.” That is why it is said that the animal turkey is known in English as Turkey. Once introduced into the North American continent, this bird expanded its habitat to South America, thus being integrated into every South American country’s gastronomy.

Wow. I wonder if anyone tried to explain that to Benjamin Franklin? Of course, it first would have required explaining that in a few hundred years a portion of Ottoman empire would become a nation called Turkey. . .

But when I finish laughing, I am left wondering how many totally ridiculous things I probably believe to be true because I read them somewhere. What are they? How would I know? Is this how weird misperceptions and misunderstandings – even prejudices start? Are there really Ecuadorians who now believe that turkeys are large imported chickens rather than birds native to North America? While that is just a silly unimportant thing, what other, more important things have they read and come to believe about the United States that aren’t true? How would they know?

Soon we are landing in Guayaquil. The clouds have cleared and I can see a low flat city surrounded by wet-looking green fields.

I expect an announcement telling everyone to move back to their original seats, but instead they announce that new passengers should sit wherever there is an open seat. This means I am keeping my window. Lane moves to the center and we are joined by a nice young man from Holland. We introduce ourselves and learn that Nico and his partner Monique will be on the cruise with us.

The flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos is mostly cloudy, but the sky clears again as we approach the islands, giving me a view of a few small islands that look stark and harsh.

Soon we are seated in a Zodiac, heading toward our ship. Our Galapagos adventure is beginning.

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