Day 29: BoatBoatBoatBusBoatBusPlaneBus
It is Friday, the 4th of August. The year is 2017. The Latitude Zero Expedition is now on its 29th day. The crew has grown weary, and is especially so after today’s events. We awoke this morning before dawn, and ate sparingly at a breakfast of bread and coffee, keeping in mind the rough journey ahead. At the turn of the sixth hour of the day, we boarded our vessel and made way for open water. The seas were calm, but the voyage bumpy nonetheless. The spirited singing of the crew helped pass time and ease stomachs, and after two hours, we made berth at Puerto Ayora.
With wobbly legs and nausea threatening to relieve our bowels, we made our way to the home of the famed “balones”. A fried delicacy of mashed plantain and cheese, the balls lifted the spirits of the crew for those that could stomach them. Our journey continued shortly thereafter, with a bus ride the to the other end of Santa Cruz. On the way there, we made a stop at an ancient sink hole said to echo with the whispers of sailors past.
Once at the island’s edge, we transferred again to a sailing vessel in order to cross the small channel between Santa Cruz and Baltra, home to the port of the aircraft. Another bus took us the last leg of the journey to the “airport”, where we had another conservative meal of grilled cheese and smoothie made with the juice of the blackberry. We boarded a plane from the Avianca fleet, which was chartered to take us back to our base camp in Quito. The vessel was the most comfortable we’d travelled on so far – with plush seats and steaming empanadas, the ride was a much needed reprise for the crew.
After landing in Quito, we were reunited with our long missed comrades Marcelo and Camille. They informed us that crew member Sir Thomas Cairns of Shrewsbury, who had fallen ill earlier in the expedition and was unable to make the journey to the islands, was close to a full recovery and is to reach Boston by midday Saturday. We sent him a heartfelt message and will continue to wish for his good health as we conclude our travels. With good Marcelo at the helm of a sleek new bus, we made our way back to the Sierra Madre, where we lodged upon first arriving in Ecuador. Returning to familiar territory after weeks of exploring new ones put the crew in good spirits. We celebrated with a feast of Italian food of the highest quality, and retired early, exhausted from the day’s voyage. Travel-tested and eager to work, the crew is poised for a successful end to the expedition.