Oct 28

What I should have packed – Galapagos Islands

The more I travel, the more I find packing to be an unfortunate and inconvenient chore. Subsequently, on my trip to the Galapagos Islands, I did a really lousy job packing. I’ll also blame the weather predictions I read about that were WRONG!

I’ll explain the weather first. The weather in Quito was forecast to be in the lower 60s and raining everyday. It NEVER rained and, I think, because of the altitude and dry conditions the temperature felt 5-10 degrees warmer.  The forecast in the Galapagos I only got for one island, Santa Cruz, and it would be in the mid 70s and foggy everyday.  The temperatures were probably in the mid 70s to lower 80s and really humid with very little fog.  Of course the forecast matched the information I read about the weather during September so I thought it would be a good gauge for packing.

So here is what I should have packed for a 7 day Galapagos Cruise:

(some of this I did actually bring and found useful)

2 pairs of shorts (preferably quick drying)

Or 1 pair of shorts and a pair of zip off pants

2-3 short sleeve shirts to wear during the day

2-3 short sleeve shirts to wear at night

LOTS of sunscreen

Bug spray (a small amount)

Sneakers/Hiking boots

Athletic sandals

Flip flops

2 Bathing suits

1 pair confortable pants or jeans

1 Sweatshirt

Hat (I didn’t wear one but most people would like a hat)

Camera with zoom lens and lots of memory

A few packaged snacks – you cannot bring organics into the Galapagos Islands and there isn’t much opportunity to purchase once on the islands.

One thing of note is that due to the humidity and the fact that you’re on a boat surrounded by water, nothing fully dries. Most of the boats seemed to have a laundry line on the top and clothing got 95% dry very quickly. But it’s best to bring things that dry quickly, you’ll get wet on the zodiacs and it’s nice for your clothes to dry in minutes. I would not bring jeans to wear during the day, only at night when lounging around. They’ll take too long to dry and aren’t practical if you have a “wet” landing (climbing into the ocean at the beach instead of from the boat to land)

Oct 21

Three Phones in the Galapagos Islands

While traveling to the Galapagos Island I traveled with not 1 or 2, but 3 different cell phones. I like to be prepared. But the results of how well they worked were a bit surprising and I thought worthy of writing a post about them. As a point of reference I was on a G Adventures tour on the Monserrat in September of 2015.

The three phones:
iPhone 6 Plus on the AT&T Network with International Plan

iPhone 4s with local Claro plan for Ecuador

FullSizeRenderBlackberry Bold on the Verizon Network with International Plan

FullSizeRender (1)

Overall data service in the Galapagos Islands was severely lacking, often relying on the Edge Network. The first half of my trip was a “Southern Galapagos” itinerary and had a decent level of coverage. The second half of the trip was “Western Galapagos” and had very little cell coverage. We landed on Baltra, which did show a signal, but it was extremely weak. In Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island we had the strongest signal for our whole trip. The Island of Isabel had some weak service. Other than that, there was little to know service while in the Galapagos, just occasional spotty service. I would usually check my phones at night or in the morning when we were stopped and I think the longest I went with absolutely no coverage was around 24-28 hours.

iPhone 6 Plus:
The international plan I had included unlimited texts and 120 mb of data. I turned the data off for all of my applications to keep from accidentally using the data, this kept me to using only about 30 mb of data during my almost 2 weeks in Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands. While in the Galapagos Islands I was never able to send a text with a photo. If I had 3 or more bars of cell coverage, I was able to send texts with only words. That only happened a few times.

iPhone 4s:
At some point late in the trip my service plan ran out, that also corresponded with the period of the least internet service. But it didn’t really matter, I never used the phone for texts and outside of Puerto Ayora, it never downloaded emails, or worked on Facebook. It might have worked once with the Twitter app.

Blackberry Bold:
I only used my blackberry for email and if there was a cell signal, it would send and receive emails, including emails with smaller pictures. Aside from the 24-28 hour gap with no service, it usually worked when I checked emails in the morning and at night, though not every time, but at least one a day.

When you leave for the Galapagos, let everyone know they might not hear from you. But, if you NEED to keep in contact with the outside world, take a Blackberry, it’s your best chance.

Happy Travels!

Oct 14

Rasputin’s New Adventure… Without Me

While in Quito, Ecuador Rasputin and I had an unfortunate parting of the ways. In a separate post I will outline the details but the short story is that on Thursday, September 10, 2015 after 9 years as my travel companion, Rasputin was stolen from me (as was my purse).
My only hope is that Rasputin has found a new friend who will bring him on new adventures.

I found Rasputin on June 22, 2006 in a train station in Copenhagen. I had just finished a tour of Scandinavia and Russia. On the Russia half of the tour our “day song” was Rasputin. I thought he should have a name that reflected the trip I was just finishing.

The choice of name worked out well for Rasputin. Although many people gave a double take when I said the name, it was easy to say, “like the Russian monk” and people knew exactly what his name was. And if taking a picture with a stuffed giraffe isn’t a conversation piece, his name was.When I needed a name for my blog, Rasputin was the inspiration, the little guy with me that took pictures with. We would then go home and he would write the blog with me, in spirit at least.

From the day I got him, Rasputin was my little travel buddy, he made me feel a little less lonely on my solo trips. We’ve been to Disney World several times and even Disneyland once. He’s been to Egypt, Australia, England, Scotland, all over the US, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and the highlight of his little life to South Africa to see real giraffes in the wild. Oh, and a giraffe head on a wall and giraffe skinned purses. South Africa was both a highlight and a humbling experience for Rasputin…



Rasputin was a tricky little guy, a bit like a cat with nine lives. When I went to Australia, right after a shooting at LAX, I left him in my office. Fortunately I was able to talk someone into getting him (and my neck pillow) for me and bring it to me at the airport. They really must love me at work… But Rasputin sometimes fell out of my purse and would be rescued by an excellent taxi driver. Then there was the time that I left him at the art of animation studio at the Hollywood Studios, remembering him when I got to Star Tours. I had to wait at the back door for the ongoing class to end and then ask the cast member about my giraffe I left on the table.


My purse in Quito, Ecuador was the end of his ninth life. But his spirit will live on. While my brother in law always thought I was nuts, people generally loved Rasputin. Flight attendants frequently asked about him, and friends bought him presents for his birthday. He even made friends with other stuffed giraffes. After his loss, I now have a menagerie of stuffed animals donated by friends. I’m not quite sure what I will do with all of them. No stuffed animal can replace 9 years with Rasputin, but the idea of having a little something with me to keep up his mission of traveling the world would be continuing his legacy.