I hate to spoil the illusion that I am here on a white sandy beach playing with the sea lions or frolicking with sea turtles with no one in sight for miles but Puerto Ayora, the main city in the Galapagos, has a population of nearly 50,000.
I had no idea either.
I thought most of the islands were practically empty but Puerto Ayora is like any other town.
I am continuing to research Ecuadorian food. There are grocery stores, bars, and restaurants. You can get a taxi or even the bus to a location. It’s not really all that different from Cuenca in some ways.
So most of my month here has been just hanging out in town.
The crew from the Cachelote is often free on Wednesday nights so they will come over to my house for drinks and we’ll go out.
I have started to meet people and learn about what it’s like to live on the Galapagos.
This is a unique culture.
Looking at it from the outside this life is not for everyone. Guides and captains often work 3 weeks on and 1-2 weeks off and get paid the most.
But the rest of the crew usually works 8 weeks on 4 weeks off or 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off.
This makes for many dysfunctional relationships.
By chance, a few of the guys had just ended relationships because their girlfriends could not deal with them being gone for so long.
It’s a common issue. If a guy is lucky enough to have a girlfriend in Puerto Ayora he can’t really be sure she is faithful.
And for those that have girlfriends in nearby Guayaquil fidelity is definitely an issue on both sides. This is why the city has a nickname known by locals.
In fact I learned that several of the islands have names. Isabella is called Pato Amarillo and San Cristobal is Cacho Burros.
The sexual promiscuity is heightened even more by tourists fresh off their cruises who spend a couple extra days in town and want to party for a few nights and have a bit of “fun” with the locals.
The guys here are really nice, very respective and not aggressive at all, but I have learned that there is always an underlying understanding that sex could be on the table.
And it has gotten me into trouble.
Relationships between men and women are different in Latin America and I had forgotten that I couldn’t simply ask a guy to do something without it appearing I wanted more than friendship.
It’s been a hard lesson as I thought I was friends with a crew member, we spoke quite often and when I learned he was on vacation I told him he should go out for drinks.
That’s what friends do, right?
It seemed harmless. When we realized the bars were closed because it was Monday he offered to go to his place, but after I saw it was only a room and we’d have to sit on the bed I offered up my place as I had a large living area and he had been there before with friends.
That is where I screwed up.
While the night was fine, we had some beer and talked about his kids on the mainland and his last relationship that ended.
His girlfriend didn’t like that he sent all his money to his kids instead of on her. I thought it was a nice night and when he left we said we’d go for coffee the next day.
But he didn’t respond to any of my texts.
I was very confused but then locals told me. Once he realized I wasn’t going to sleep with him he wasn’t going to waste his time with me.
It was an upsetting blow, he was someone I really thought was a good friend and a stand up guy. It was my mistake, maybe I had been leading him on.
But I’m not like tourists on vacation. If I hooked up with a guy in every city I visited…well that would be a long list of hook ups.
The challenge traveling solo is that I want to make friends and do things, and I need to be careful how it is perceived as men may mistakenly think I’m interested.
It is a lesson that has really hurt my feelings but one I will learn from.