Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Thursday, June 10, 2010


LAN airlines sent me an email that they offer free tickets to Galapagos with a purchased ticket from United States to Guayaquil. I noticed this and moved on, mentioned it to Ileana on Saturday as just some piece of news, but why do we care, we are going to Galapagos in February 2012 anyhow. Sunday night I thought to myself that I should probably check this out. It turned out to be true and the terms of the offer couldn't be better. Buy a ticket before June 21st for travel after September 16th. LAN is starting this new service and it is likely to be just a one time thing. A couple of months ago I played with the idea of taking one week off to Galapagos while we are in Florida in November. It was too expensive and the time on the islands would have been too short. Now I could buy tickets from New York for $3137 and from Miami for $500 less.
Monday morning when we woke up I asked Ileana if she would like to go to Galapagos. I have an annual conference in Orlando the week before Thanksgiving and this could be a great two week vacation, including some time on our favorite beach at Caladesi Island. She didn't need more than two minutes to decide. We did some calculations and realized that it might cost us just $1200 more to fly from home, instead of going during our RTW trip. We both admitted that we are afraid that Galapagos might be cut off as we get closer to our trip because it is such a huge expense. Better go now when I am still employed and we can count the money differently. The Florida vacation would surely cost more than $1200 and we gain 2-3 weeks on our trip next year. We could spend more time in New Zealand and Argentina and we could make it to Brazil.
It is Wednesday now and yesterday I spent two hours buying the tickets to Galapagos Islands on November 11! There were two agitated days on my part but the family reaction was very enthusiastic. Maria is happy about the "bragging rights", it sounds so much better than Florida, her sister is happy that "this means we can go to Brazil" and Ioan was unhappy with any option because he won't be home for his birthday and won't have a birthday party. Again.
It took less than 48 hours to make this major decision and it might seem an impulsive one, but I don't think it is. Surprisingly I had much more anxiety about this issue than I would have expected and the last two days I almost fell sick. We spent an entire year thinking everyday about our trip next year and by now there is a level of impatience, it seems too long to wait another 509 days. And suddenly we find ourselves having to make plans for November, we can buy some equipment and test drive it right away, we can get a glimpse at how we'll travel next year. We have time to learn and prepare and we also have a "distraction" to make the wait for the big trip much shorter. And we can tell everybody right away. I can only imagine the surprise as this is might seem to come from nowhere, how can someone suddenly decide to go to Galapagos? We just watched the BBC movie (the islands that changed the world) [Blu-ray]  [DVD]   [book] last week and we've been talking about it quite a few times in the last year, but we cannot say it yet.

It is also interesting to note that the purchase of the tickets was much more painful than it should be. After spending almost an hour to start a household account for frequent flyer miles on British Airways, I went to to buy the tickets and on the last screen I got an error after entering the credit card data. I tried again, got another error and called their customer service. Their representative, Fabian, apologized and explained that they need the passport numbers to issue the tickets, I gave him that and then he tried to charge my credit card and got a denial. We tried another credit card and got another denial. I called the first card to unblock it, called Fabian again to buy the tickets and called the second card to unblock that as well. This morning I got another call from the security department at Chase to verify what happened last night. Bottom line, they block these transactions thinking that they protect me from unauthorized charges. I can only imagine the pain of buying $30000 plane tickets next year. Well, we'll get through that...

Galapagos is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador. There are several inhabited islands, several villages and two small airports. It is mostly a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some people call them "the islands that changed the world". Everybody knows about Charles Darwin and the giant tortoises but I'm sure not much more. They are much bigger than they seem and much more difficult to explore than one would think. There is a $100 charge to enter the National Park and you are required to have an approved guide in the park at all times. Most people would visit the islands on a cruise, but the cruises are expensive, they only have 2-bed rooms and they also waste a lot of time getting there and in between islands. A regular 9-day prearranged trip can have only 5-6 days on the islands and can cost as much as $2400. We will try to read as much as we can, book the first night on our arrival and then decide on the spot how we spend the next 14 days. We'll see.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment form message here