So we pack up our things and head off to the most famous remote Islands on the planet. But first an aside. When packing, I was torn between a backpack and a roller. My goal was to pack enough stuff for the two of us, for about two weeks, in one carry-on bag. And yes, that does require that we wear the same clothes a few, or five times, but it is my job as my son’s father to teach him how to be a college student and then a bachelor. Anyway, I just bought this cool roller and as it sat next to my trusty back-pack, I felt like I was handing out the final rose. Katie, that would be my girl-friend, said I should take the backpack, but she’s a former back-country trip leader so I figured she was naturally biased. As we’re talking, she points at me, the room darkens, the candles flicker, and she says, “There will come a time when you are thankful for the backpack!” Having been raised by a strong Greek woman (Hi Ma!) I know better than to argue with woman pointing at me, so I chose the backpack.
Now, about that omen. We had a six hour lay-over in Miami, which by the way, is a terrible International Airport; Lubbock, Texas’ airport has more services. Seriously, how do you have an international airport with so few food options? When you’re leaving the country, or coming back, you stock up on American comfort food, especially in the age of airlines not feeding you. Except in Miami, there is no American comfort food. Not even a McDonalds. I think Miami Airport is the largest parcel of land on the planet without a McDonalds, and this is a big deal when you’re traveling with a nine-year old. Anyway, where was I? Oh right, the lay-over. We arrive at 11.00 am, and don’t take off until 5.30 pm, so we head to the lounge, chill out, play games, make some calls and talk about what the Galapagos will be like. Then as I’m talking to my mom, my phone dies, so I plug it in an the time comes up on the screen. And I stare at it. 5.20. “Hmmm, that means something,” thinks I. 5.20. “Something’s happening at 5.30.” 5.20. And then it hits me, we’re supposed to be on a plane at 5.30! I grab everything and shove it into our bags, literally rip the coke out of Sander’s hand as his lips are reaching for the straw, and tell him to “RUN!” And run we do. So exactly ten hours into our trip, Katie is right; I’m able to fly through the airport with my backpack. Seriously, I’m like Good OJ running through the airport in that Hertz commercial, passing by the 30 gates to our plane’s door. No way we could have made that time with a roller. Just no way.
So we sweatily settle into our seats and head for Quito, Ecuador, where we’re picked up by a nice lady who takes us to our hotel. Quito, and Ecuador were not what I expected, but mostly because I don’t do any research on things. Quito is a mountain capital and is about 6000’ (2000m to the rest of the world) and surrounded by extinct/dormant volcanoes. It’s cool at night, and the air is crisp and clear. In fact the whole city (or at least the part of the city you can see going from the airport to the hotel) is clean, uncrowded, friendly and modern. I’m not sure what I expected form Quito, but “nicer than most US cities,” wasn’t it.