Exotic Animals, Rikishi and 2 mentions of Whores
Trip Start Feb 22, 2007
27Trip End Aug 22, 2007
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I´m cheap. Anyone who knows me, knows this. For those who don´t, let me expand:
1) I´ve been dating Sara for 6 years and the most expensive gift (birthday, Christmas, just-because) she´s ever received from me was 2 seasons of the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
2) I switch off all the lights when I leave my apartment and don´t turn on the heat in the winter (ghost of Ernie Dominey nods head approvingly).
3) I managed to save enough money to travel for 6 months on a TSN story editor´s salary (a shocked silence envelops the newroom).
4) Lived under the gayest bar in Toronto (Rosales knows the place) in an apartment where the dog was trained to shit indoors (in fairness, it´s a small dog)....and this has been my best pad yet.
Let's run down the cost of an 8 day trip to the Galapagos, shall we:
Cruise (First Class, of course): $1300
Plane Ticket from Quito to the Galapagos: $400
Park Fee you must pay upon arrival in the Galapagos: $100
Tips for crew: $70 (probably cheap)
That´s almost $1900 US each...one-fifth of the proposed budget for this whole damn trip (Sidenote: Send money soon, mommy).
But I reluctantly part with my hard-earned money (did I mention I lived below a gay bar) and we leave Quito on Monday, March 25th.
Loudspeaker: ¨Last call for Aerogal Flight 34.¨
Sara: ¨Let's go.¨
Me: ¨But he´s almost done.¨
Sara: ¨Let's go.¨
Me: ¨C´mon, just another minute, it´s Rikishi.¨
Sara: ¨Who the *%^* is Rikishi?¨
So we´re on the plane, we´re right on time, we´re ready to touch down, and... ¨Due to bad weather, we´re unable to land, we´ll be redirecting the flight to San Cristobal, thanks for your patience (actually this part was in spanish).¨
What. Why? There´s no rain, no snow, nothing but clouds in the air. And that is, in fact, the problem. They´re not working with the same kind of equipment over here obviously, so we´re stuck in a wooden shack in nearby San Cristobal with a plane full of wheezing old people. I think I even spotted Bob Cole at one point.
In the middle of this we have an Ecuadorian guide stealing the ¨under-the-breath¨ schtick of a popular female comedian from 10 years ago (I don´t remember her name) while making announcements:
¨Our plane is leaving with other passengers now, we´ll be boarding another plane....eventually.¨
And .... ¨A plane will arrive in one hour, we´ll depart a half-hour after that....weather depending.¨
3 hours later, we finally arrive in the Galapagos. Let´s meet the 8 person crew shall we:
Here´s a run-down of his greatest hits (must imagine with spanish accent):
-- Talking about an older Aussie couple on the boat: ¨I think he wears the pants, but shares the pants with her (big smile), I wouldn´t want to be in his shoes huh.¨
-- Middle-aged lady from the States complains about her cabin not having air-conditioning for what had to be 20-minutes. After answering and re-answering her, Wilo calmly says, ¨You know, my room was very cold last night, lots of air conditioning, I didn´t notice (shoots big smile at me).¨
-- Sara asks him if he can have relations with the passengers (I can only assume this question arose out of genuine curiousity). His answer, ¨I say, don´t touch the endemic species.¨
-- Described himself as an ¨Albatross¨ because he only goes after younger women. I have no idea if Albatross actually do this.
So, already I'm regretting not learning how to salsa. But never fear, I´ve developed a foolproof back-up plan.
When I return to Canada, I´ll first move to the inner-city (or say Scarborough). I´ll enroll in a rough school where the students seem to have no hope until one day, a teacher arrives and starts up a dance class. Let's call him Antonio Banderas. At first, the other students and I laugh him out of class, but through sheer persistence, he wins our hearts. A couple of montages later, I´m dancing salsa, tango and the merengue competitively. It´s foolproof. At the very least, I´ll know how to Stomp the Yard.
Anyway, as a way of gaining the necessary courage to dance, I drank. Oh, how I drank. But it was probably Wilo´s fault.
When we first arrived, Wilo made special note of how Sara and I were assigned the honeymoon suite:
¨Marcus, you´re in cabin 3, Lisa in cabin 5, and Steve and Sara, ooh, you´re in the honeymoon (sweeeeeeeeet). He´s a very happy man huh,¨ with trademark huge smile.
During the competion, I later found out Wilo was slipping away to eat rice and drink water. I did not do this. So predictably, I lost.
To make matters worse, before this legendary drinking battle, a bunch of us decided to jump off the top of the boat. I performed a variety of jumps, mostly cannon balls, before my fifth try when I decided to take a running start. Bad idea, I slip a bit, then over-rotate, and before I know it, I have a black eye.
If Greg Louganis was on board, he could´ve banged his head off the side of the boat and spilled his tainted supply into the ocean and it still wouldn´t have been any worse.
Anyway, again going back to the day after all this, I find myself on the Galapagos Islands with a black eye, sitting on a rock and puking next to a sea lion. At this moment, I realize the only thing separating myself and Britney is a shaved head.
The Galapagos is like someone opening up the tank at Sea World and telling you to hop in. You are literally inches from the action while you snorkel. Sea lions playing with each other, massive sea turtles floating by, Crocodile Hunter killers just feet below and in one spot, tons of penguins darting past at lightning speed.
Every 5 metres another one would swim right past us, it was unlike anything I´ve ever seen. Even though Wilo told us they wouldn´t bite, all I kept thinking about was that ¨book deal¨ joke I made in the last e-mail.
I pictured Sara getting bitten by a shark, then fighting for her life in a hospital room, when suddenly Frank bursts in, grabs me by the collar and screams, ¨You wanted this to happen you bastard, you wanted this to happen!¨ The vision eventually ends with me paying Frank royalties from the book deal.
Other noteworthy sightings: Dolphins, flamingos, marine and land iguanas, Lonesome George (the last remaining tortoise of his subspecies), the blue-footed boobie (a bird with blue feet), the Magnum P.I. of the sea (a fish that seemingly had a moustache) and a frigate (a bird that puffs its chest out into a big red sack--I´d imagine Millet would particularly enjoy this, saying something such as: ¨Look at his sack, it´s so big and red¨). Sorry, that´s for the Ottawa guys only .
What a bastard and what an absolutely amazing trip. To read more about it, check out Sara´s blog (click on Next Entry). It has a much more detailed account of the wildlife, without all the pointless mentions of whores.
And stay tuned to see how I manage to desecrate my next UNESCO site, Machu Picchu. I´ve been told a side-effect to altitude sickness is diarrhea, so it´ll definitely be an explosive episode (already well touched upon in previous blogs) that you can´t afford to miss.