Day 1: How I became a Bilingual Naturalist Guide III

Puerto Ayora Travel Blog

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Me with the crew

A great opportunity came my way last week...translating English on an 8-day cruise around the Galapagos Islands.  I must say that if I hadn't gone on this cruise, I would have missed the essence of the Galapagos.  It is an incredibly diverse and rich place with amazing flora and fauna amidst breath-taking backdrops.

 

As a quick summary: we snorkeled every day and I swam with Galapagos penguins, white-tip reef sharks, schools of up to 100 rays (spotted eagle, sting, golden cownose and other types!), and large sea turtles. I played with sea lions and patted a couple turtles on the head!  In addition to the marinelife, I saw blue footed boobies doing a mating dance, marine iguanas swimming in the ocean, land iguanas lounging, sea lions fighting, masked boobies nesting, giant tortoises sitting in a "jacuzzi", pelicans nesting and young albatrosses losing their baby feathers.

The Friendship
The island landscapes were all so unique and breath taking ... from dry coastal landscapes to wet highlands and beaches with white, green, black, and even red colored sand!

 

The cruise boat (which is a generous description) Friendship has a very knowledgeable guide who unfortunately (or fortunately for me) only speaks Spanish, and the cruise tour promised a ¨Bilingual Natural Guide III.¨  Not really sure if III is better than II, but in any case, I am not really completely bilingual or a natural guide.   My German friend did the trip the week before and told me of the opportunity.  I met Jacinto, the guide, on a Tuesday night and was told to meet him at the airport at 8:30 on the coming Friday morning.  And thus began my illustrious career as an English translator...  I probably translated about 85-90% of what was said either because I didn't understand or couldn't remember everything Jacinto said at one time.

Baltra Pier - sea lions working just about as hard as the locals do
  Luckily only 2 people on the trip kinda spoke Spanish, so I bulldozed through the difficult sections and made sure to talk for a while if Jacinto talked a long time.  Jacinto´s English was limited to "Any questions?" and "Please, let us go now."  One time, he made a reference to "Mista Armstrong," which threw me for a loop until a passenger clarified he was referring to Neil Armstrong.

 

My group consists of 10 Dutch(es?), a couple from the Bay Area, 2 Aussies, a Finnish woman from Belgium and a guy from Israel... a veritable smorgasbord of nationalities. The passengers ranged in age from 22 to 72 and everyone managed to do everything with no problems.  The group was really laid back and didn't ask too may questions (which was good for me).  I probably asked the most questions.

Las Bachas beach at around 5 pm
  This trip probable tripled the number of Dutch people I know, and I have to say that my opinion of them is very high.

 

The Finnish from Belgium, Iiri, was my cabin roommate.  She is 72, a grandma, and just a wonderful person, who's always smiling and enjoying everything.  She ws able to do all the hikes and did a bit of snorkeling as well...without a wetsuit!  We sometimes chatted at night before bed about our families, about Scandinavia (Finland is actually not a part of Scandinavia), Finns vs. Swedes (aka Nokia vs. Ericsson), and about whether parents could choose a favorite child (because my mother continues to refuse to choose her favorite).  It was really touching because she would say how she felt sad she was running out of time to travel because all the women in her family had passed away around 80.

Flamingo lagoon
  Iiri also finished off a whole bottle of white wine by herself in addition to half a bottle of red wine and beer, which in my books, at any age, is pretty awesome. 

 

One night, I had to ask her to stop snoring when the generator and motor was turned off and you could actually hear.

Me: (whispering after trying to sleep for an hour) Iiri, you´re snoring.

Iiri: (immediately awake and chipper) Yes!? Okay, sorry.

5 minutes later, the snoring continues

Me: (whispering again) Iiri, you´re snoring again.

Beautiful sunset
..

Iiri: Yes?  That´s odd, because I´m not even sleeping.  :)

I miss her already. 

 

I was basically one of the crew, eating all my meals with the crew in the captain's quarters.  I got along well with the whole crew, who were always joking around and constantly hitting on me (even though they had wives and children at home).  They were always harmless, but at times a bit annoying when I was trying not to be sea sick.  Towards the end of the trip, I took to saying, ¨Me gustan las mujeres¨ (I like women), which contrary planned, only got them going even more.  I did enjoy that they´d always refer to me as ¨La Reina del barco¨...the Queen of the ship.  

 

Friday

 

I get up at the butt crack to catch a taxi to the bus terminal, a bus to the canal, a ferry over the canal, and another bus to arrive at the airport at 8:30 AM.

Great sunset
  I show up at the airport with a backpack and a plastic bag with my hired wetsuit and towel taken from a hotel. There, I wait, not really that sure Jacinto will show up or not.  An hour and a half passes and Jacinto shows up rushing about with his last group of 12 Italians and 2 Germans.   I say hi and continue to sit, as I'm informed that the flights are delayed 3 hours.  Yay!  Slow-forward to 3:30 pm and finally all the flights have arrived...I have spent 7 hours at the airport.  Not a bad day of work, but work's just starting.

 

We finally got all the passengers and headed to the pier in Baltra to boat over to Santa Cruz island and see the beach Las Bachas.  It was cold and overcast but we went for a nice short walk to a lagoon, where flamingos were eating and marine iguanas were swimming through.

Great sunset
  It was quite a sight to see a group of 4 bright pink flamingos with black wingtips fly by overhead.

 

We spent the night in the Itabaca Canal between Santa Cruz and Baltra in preparation for our first full day of touring!

merebk04 says:
I'm catching up after quite awhile. I love this entry. It's just 2 days away from Christmas right now and I can't wait to read and find out where you are now :)
Posted on: Dec 23, 2007
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Me with the crew
Me with the crew
The Friendship
The Friendship
Baltra Pier - sea lions working ju…
Baltra Pier - sea lions working j…
Las Bachas beach at around 5 pm
Las Bachas beach at around 5 pm
Flamingo lagoon
Flamingo lagoon
Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset
Great sunset
Great sunset
Great sunset
Great sunset
One of my cholesterol-busting brea…
One of my cholesterol-busting bre…
Me and Jacinto, the real guide
Me and Jacinto, the real guide
Me and Iiri, my cabinmate
Me and Iiri, my cabinmate
The group
The group
Home sweet home
Home sweet home
The salon
The salon
Lalo, one of the cooks, in the sal…
Lalo, one of the cooks, in the sa…
The captain
The captain
Jacinto and Pancho horsing around
Jacinto and Pancho horsing around
Uncovered generator...dodgy.
Uncovered generator...dodgy.
Puerto Ayora
photo by: timbo