I’m going to take a quick break from my itinerary to talk about why I chose to use Classic Journeys for this Ecuadorian expedition. Normally I’m not a group travel kind of person. Like the Galapagos tortoises, my walking pace tends to be slower than other people’s, it takes me forever to chew my food, and I spend lots of time looking around and thinking about things! But, for certain types of bucket-list trips, after taking three guide-led excursions I can honestly say that a small group with a savvy leader is the way to go
Here’s three ways our Classic Journeys local, professional guide added value to our trip.
- Provided daily doses of enthusiasm and exuberance! Without fail, we started every day with a wide smile and an invitation to adventure. “Good morning my beautiful friends! Today is going to be great!” After over a year of doom-scrolling or hearing only bad news, depressing statistics, or about some new crisis, I can’t even begin to tell you what a breath of fresh air our Galapagos guide was. Unsurprisingly, when you embrace that kind of positivity, instead of expecting the worst, things do go well and opportunities you never dreamed possible will present themselves. Sebastian’s boundless optimism was contagious and an unexpected gift I returned home with that was more precious than any souvenir.
- Introduced us to some of the fascinating inhabitants of Santa Cruz, people we would never have discovered on our own. For example, Sebastian introduced us to Adriano Cabrera, coffee and moonshine producer, whose colorful stories of past escapades kept us entertained as we learned about the various steps he took to make each and sampled everything. The highlight was when he threw some moonshine on the fire to show us how strong it was. Now that’s a blaze a Boy Scout would be proud of!
Then there was Miguel Andagana Yaucha, author, artist, and self-taught environmental preservationist. Though his life is the stuff novels are written about, his book is a memoir and a testament to the endurance and resilience of human beings. His art is created from a most unusual material, the cigarette butts he finds on the ground in Santa Cruz which he then fashions into people (meet Nico and Tina!), animals, globes or other things cigarettes harm in our world. He has a table on the main street and a Facebook presence where he tries to educate people about the environmental impact of smoking and he is available to speak in schools and to other community groups. I’m very much looking forward to reading a copy of his book!
Sarah Darling, a British artist who has resided in the Galapagos for years, was someone Sebastian encouraged us to meet when we went shopping on our own. The exterior of her shop, Angelique Art Gallery is a work of art in itself and just seeing the vibrant blue color makes you want to open up the door and walk in! Once inside you’ll find her creations, most of which are colorful, imaginative, and feature the animals of the Galapagos. She uses all kinds of mediums, including oils and watercolors and sells items like mirrors and jewelry, scarves and bags, and notecards and prints. Not only that, she rescues dogs and cats and told us her home is overflowing with her animal friends.
- Encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone. I don’t know about you, but living under the constant threat of Covid definitely made me a more fearful person. Some things Sebastian encouraged me to do included kayaking in a bay where there were plenty of sharks roaming around (not a big fan), flying next to the pilot in the tiny, inter-island plane, and venturing down into steep and slippery places like lava tunnels or up lava rock inclines to catch a glimpse of an unforgettable view. Do I regret doing any of those? Not one bit! Would I have been remorseful once I returned home if I hadn’t done them? Absolutely!