The Port of Promiscuity

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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.

ALSO READ:  Cuy in Ecuador

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.

Puerto Cacha.

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.



Join the Conversation

  1. Iain Mallory says:

    I’m really sorry you got your fingers burned Angelina, but as you say it’s a lesson learned so not a complete loss. good luck making friendships in future.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I guess it is bound to happen anywhere you are, even at home.

  2. Sarah Somewhere says:

    Hey Ayngelina, you did nothing wrong, your intentions were just different to his, so it’s probably best this way. Great post 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If I hadn´t thought we were friends it wouldn´t have bothered me but you are right, he saved me from an awkward conversation that I am not interested.

  3. The rules are very similar here in Colombia too. I have guy friends here but there have been similar instances like yours which have left me frustrated and annoyed. The whole dating situation which is already complicated and incomprehensible seems to be even more so in South America!

    1. The Hairy Chef says:

      hmmm they also say ‘no da papaya’ which in ANY other culture would be called stealing.

      And, if you follow the analogy, by talking to them but not sleeping with them you are a waste of space.

      I think the common denominator here is basically an inability to accept fault or take into consideration other people’s feelings, schedules or commitments.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Having travelled down here a while I have dated locals (although I don´t write about it) and I do have male friends that are local. I think it just surprised me because he seemed to be such a nice guy and I was completely blindsided that he would just ignore all my texts on WhatsApp – where I can see when he has read them! I guess you live, learn, blog about it and move on.

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know I have had friends and have dated (although I never write about it) in Latin America so I usually have a good sense of these things but I was so surprised by this one.

  4. That’s definitely a tough situation to be in. But just a reminder of how different cultures – and relationships – can be around the world.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So true, my friends in Ecuador thought I was crazy to think I was friends with him in the first place.

  5. Katherine Belarmino says:

    Why does it have to be so difficult sometimes? It’s always a bummer when you think you’ve found a new friend and then find out friendship isn’t what they were looking for.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If it had just been some guy it wouldn´t have been a big deal but I really thought we were friends.

  6. Antoinette says:

    As I often like to say, “Oh wells…” I am the same way when I travel solo, I really just want to meet people for drinks/coffee or someone to walk with back to the hostel/apartment late at night, it doesn’t matter whether male or female, but yes it has gotten me in a lot of trouble in the past, esp in Latin America. Different cultures, different people, different expectations. Lesson learned, as you say 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So true, and to be honest it has happened to me at home as well. I just didn´t expect it this time.

  7. Sorry you had to learn this lesson the hard way, especially since it’s already tough being a solo -female- traveler.

    But at least things ended in a safe manor, rather than him getting aggressive while at your apartment!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes the weird thing is that I think he is a really nice guy, but he just handled things like a 13 year old. That said, a few of my male friends at home said they would probably do the same thing.

  8. Lolabees says:

    That’s happened to me a bunch of times, and it’s always so hurtful that these “friends” don’t really value us as people. I have to say though… I think it’s generally universal. I’ve had it happen in my own country and abroad!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would agree with you there, I have had it happen in my own country. Perhaps what hurt more was someone else telling me the harsh truth that he moved on when he realized he wouldn´t get in my pants.

  9. Sorry to hear you missed out on a good friend. But I’m sure there will be others. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Indeed, I will just be more careful with my expectations this time.

  10. Jonathan Look, Jr. says:

    I really hate hearing stories like this. It makes people suspicious of casual friendships between men and women. I guess it comes down to communication but does that ALWAYS have to be a conversation before a friendship can begin. Ay!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think there can always be tension between men and women when they are friends, I just didn´t expect mine to come to an abrupt halt.

  11. Lisa | LLworldtour says:

    Yep. Happened to me a bunch of times. Always in touristy areas and yes, including the Galapagos. I felt a similar vibe from some of my crew. Sorry AB!

  12. Madeline says:

    Gender relations are so confusing while traveling! I see it as a strong demonstration of the cultural norms embedded in us from birth. Sometimes, you just can’t understand where the other person is coming from. As a woman traveller, this can make you feel very vulnerable.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I was just really surprised. Usually I can navigate through these things but this one threw me for a loop.

      1. You probably wanted him the bottom and you are just not accepting this with excuses that you only wanted his friendship. Women are more sexual than men, why do we always have to be the bad guys. If you knew and realized whT Puerto Ayora was , what were you doing there.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          Well I didn’t know what Puerto Ayora was at all. After a galapagos cruise I rented a house there, but I wasn’t aware of the culture.

  13. Well I don’t think you did anything wrong and he didn’t either, he could have been a bit more polite and ignoring your messages…this is just bad manners. But I guess this comes from the cultural differences…He had different expectations and when he realized that your “relationship” will remain in the friendship zone…I guess he just didn’t want to waste his time because working so much and having so little free time…guess he doesn’t have time for this kind of friendship if you know what I mean. 🙂 I have learned next to my colombian boyfriend that in Latin America friendship cannot really exist between different genders…
    I love your posts, this was also really interesting!

  14. Roy Marvelous says:

    It’s tricky and I can see both sides of it.

    But having previously worked on cruise ships before, I’m not surprised at all. And it’s not just the men who act this way!

  15. This post made me a little sad… like you have nothing ekes to offer this guy than just sex, right? My feelings would be bruised as well. But, after I brushed myself off I’d be like “Your loss amigo!” I’m super friendly for the same reasons you state, and I’m sure I’ve accidentally led a few guys on here and there. EVEN when you mention you have a boyfriend, some guys don’t think that means anything.

  16. TammyOnTheMove says:

    Sorry to hear that! This guy clearly is an idiot if he doesn’t want to be friends with you.

  17. Ouch, that sucks. I didn’t get hit on when I was in Puerto Ayora as I was with my boyfriend (now husband) but I definitely saw a lot of hookups. We saw one local with a different tourist almost every night we went out. Cultural differences or not, it still hurts.

    P.S. You totally should write about your hookups with locals 🙂

  18. Nicole @ Green Global Travel says:

    Part of traveling is dealing with different cultures and ways. Sometimes their ways just seem to suck 😛

  19. melanie@hôtel Vieux Port says:

    Great article. You give a real vision of Latina Culture with this article.

  20. Andy Santos says:

    Posts like this deserves a mention. It’s always nice to get to learn different cultures from other people’s experiences.

    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Yup, I hear ya! I worked on a cruiseship and promiscuity is key. I was quite literally the only single woman who didn’t hook up with anyone. It’s really too bad that some cultures still have this mentality as many friendships that seem genuine are then wasted! :/

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can only imagine what happens on a cruise ship. I guess tourism attracts harlots 🙂

  22. Arianwen says:

    I had a great romance in the Galapagos with a guy who had been divorced and who made out he hadn’t dated for months. Then a few months later I learned through a mutual friend that another girl had hooked up with him the week before I was there! He even travelled to Quito to ‘surprise me’ but had also let her know he’d be there. Kind of proves your point! No regrets though! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I love this story so much. I wouldn’t regret any of it either.

  23. Its interesting the dynamics between men and women in different places/cultures around the world. Like you I would be seeking friendship on my travels and if it were to develop into something else than okay. I’m sorry that the experience didn’t workout the way you hoped but I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason:)

  24. Sherwood Park Hotel says:

    You are great! you are saving the living cost of crew along with your association.

  25. Nathan Domino says:

    As a man who has mostly female friends, I have learned long ago to just approach every friendship as just that, a friendship. I learn so much from my female friends and I am grateful to have them in my life. But yes, it is a difficult lesson to learn.

    Cultural differences aside, males genetic predisposition often controls our interactions with females more than our rationality. It is unfortunate that it is so, but it is always best to guard yourself knowing that even the nicest, most well intentioned men still have a little voice in the back of their head hoping that something will happen.

  26. This old chestnut. Women who can’t tell the difference between a friend and a guy trying to get in your pants…smh

    Rule of thumb, if a guy is being super charming and funny and clearly making an effort, chances are he is after you. At that point, stop deluding yourself he is a friend because it feels good when he massages your ego.

    A true platonic friend will be visibly real and not charming unless it is their natural character. In my experience, some girls like to carry these ‘friends’ around with them like a support network. They are not friends!

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