The night before my flight to the Galapagos Islands, a group of us decided to have a last hoorah before we parted ways. We were staying the night in Termas Papallacta Lodge surrounded by the mountains and a mere 10 meters from our hotel room doors in the middle of the lodge was a natural hot spring, so naturally this party was going to be enjoyed outside. The hours flew by with laughing, learning Ecuadorian slang words, and dancing around like wilderness wildcats. My 3:30 a.m. bedtime did not agree with my 5:00 a.m. wake up call.

My 3:30 a.m. bedtime did not agree with my 5:00 a.m. wake up call.

My half hazardly packed rucksack and coffee craving soul made it to the airport in time thanks to the best trekking guides in Ecuador and the well-rested rest of the Galapagos group.

With my Viva Latino-Top 50 Spotify playlist and a little airline mid-flight coffee, I was feeling more and more like a person again. The flight from Quito to Seymour Airport on Balta Island takes about two hours with a stopover in Guayaquil for 30 minutes. I tend to opt for aisle seats on most of my flights, but today I did not want to miss one moment of looking out the window for a first glance of the archipelago.

For exactly 1 hour and 55 minutes I looked longingly out the window at the whipped cream clouds; then it appeared, the first set of smaller islands a midst the ocean blue. In that moment I mentally took note of every last detail, as if it would all be dream if I did not dissect my surroundings: Quiero Que Sepas playing in my headphones, the taste of Orbit spearmint gum in my mouth, the slight shadow of the plane casted over the water…

When the plane landed and I stepped into the intense Equator sunshine, I felt more awake than I have been in months.

In my travels so far in life, I have only experienced this feeling of “being home” within minutes of arriving in two places; Iceland and now the Galapagos. It is not a feeling that be described. If you have ever felt it, then you know that it hits you unexpectedly and it needs no explanation.

Once off of the tarmac, the entire plane waits in line to pay the $100 entrance fee to the archipelago and get checked for no invasive plants, seeds, animals, etc. in luggage. This is important to keep the endemic ecosystem healthy.

A short 20 minute bus ride from the airport, a 5 minute boat transfer across a small channel, a 30 minute taxi ride through Santa Cruz island, another mini transfer boat to the larger “taxi boat”, and a 2 hour boat ride later we made it to Isle Isabela.