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Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands
Language: Spanish and Quichua, with numerous dialects.
Population: About 15 million, with over half living in poverty. About 40% are Indigenous Andean people.
Money: The US dollar, as of 2001. Paper money can only be printed in the US, but they have special Ecuadorian coinage in the same denominations as the US. US coins are also used. The Sacagawea 1$ is very popular.
Landscape: Forested coastal lowlands and hills, rising to the snow-capped Andes. Rainforest in the Amazon basin to the east.
Visited: April 4 to 16, 2003 on the continent. April 21 to May 20, 2003 (more or less) in the Galapagos.
Instead of sailing directly from Panama to the Galapagos Islands, as most cruisers have done in past years, we took the less-traveled route, south along the Columbian coast to the central Ecuadorian coast, a passage of 4 days. After spending time on the continent, we then sailed west to the Galapagos. This broke the normal 8- to 10-day passage into 2 passages of 4 days each, with time between to not only recuperate, but to enjoy more of the South American continent as well.
Manta was the coastal city where we made landfall after Panama, and from which we staged our inland travels.
In the Galapagos we anchored at 3 of the 4 inhabited islands (the only ones we're allowed to take our own boat to): Wreck Bay, on San Cristóbal Island, Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island, and Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.
We staged our fabulous Galapagos tour (along with Jon's brother, Tony) from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz.
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