Apologies for the length of this.
Is it better to travel than arrive? Having left home on a cold, foggy morning at 5am to travel to Heathrow and the chaos of cancelled flights, you would put your money on arrival!
We got away to Madrid, however, with only a 30 minute delay. Then the long, long journey out across the Atlantic and across the mountainous top of South America to Quito -capital of Ecuador. It sits nestled in the valley plain 11,000 feet above sea level. Arriving in the dark and the dark chaos of an airport built for about 10% of the thronging mob who were awaiting relatives home from Spain for Christmas.
To the absolute calm of the Radisson through the chaos of evening traffic; to bed; and up early to return to the airport: Domestica this time and even smaller!
We had not ticket, nothing, just the faith in someone called Edwin who would meet up with us at 7am. We searched the little terminal for someone called Edwin with no luck at all. Just shrugs and polite pitying looks. As soon as we stopped making that futile effort and stood still, he found us in seconds!
‘Wait’ he said, ‘Give me your bag. I find you again.’ And he did. He had checked us in and got us into the Sala VIP where we actually got something to eat. We thought we were almost there, but that was an illusion.
The plane landed at Guyaquil after a 30 minute hop and the 40 minutes on the ground turned into 1 hour and 10 minutes patiently sitting in the plane. But off we went seawards across the ocean for nearly two hours until out of the blue water specks of land appeared and the Galapagos Islands came closer and closer. They are so small in the expanse of ocean they look like biscuit crumbs on a table cloth.
Baltra is all barren cactus and grey shrubs. It looks dead but this is an illusion whilst everything waits patiently for rain. An even smaller airport but we found our man. Wait, give me your baggage tag. In all the confusion and shouting and milling crowds and busses we waited; doubting. But he arrived and miraculously had our bag (how did he find it?) And we were off in a van down the windy road to the pier head. Then a small chuggy boat took us over the channel to Santa Cruz island. Another pick-up and we drove the 42 km down through the island. This was punctuated by being flagged down by someone in combat uniform with a colleague and dog. They jumped in the back of the pick-up and leapt out later and disappeared into another patch of rainforest much like the one they had emerged from. Barren as we climbed, then suddenly lush, tropical greenery as we went over the flat top of the volcanic surface and down the other side into the moist, prevailing winds to the main port in the whole island group and the beautiful, calm sea. There now, surely? No not quite. A jolly boatman took us round the bay and we were dropped off at a jetty. There now? No, a 500 metre walk across the bay on path, sand and board walk over the beach, and up loomed our hotel and host: ‘Welcome to heaven on earth’ he said and handed us a glass of ice cold juice. There now? Yes! Finally.
37 hours door to door and a world apart. Better to arrive? Not necessarily.
What I learnt:
1) Trust people who really want to help.
2) Calm down and let it all flow.
3) Recognise that good things take time and a suitable space is required to get rid of preconceptions.
4) Just because you cannot see the logic, does not mean there is none.
5) My unwritten rules are not everybody’s unwritten rules.
One of my coaching questions is: did you challenge your own assumptions today? I can honestly answer, for the first time in a while, an emphatic yes!