Pinoyspotting: Ecuador and the Galapagos

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The author (L) with Bernard Martinez, and Wilfredo Quella, Jr. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

The author (L) with Bernard Martinez, and Wilfredo Quella, Jr. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

I was on my way to mainland Ecuador when I “Pinoyspotted” Bernard Martinez (San Fernando, La Union) and Wilfredo Quella, Jr. (Biñan, Laguna) at the food court of Chicago O’Hare International Airport. They work for a fleet-service department of an airline company.
Carmela Navarra and the author (Photo by Lilian Yu. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

Carmela Navarra and the author (Photo by Lilian Yu. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

While waiting for my flight to mainland Ecuador at Miami International Airport when I bumped into Carmela Navarra (Muntinlupa City). An information-technology analyst in Washington, D.C., she was returning from a trip to Peru.

Rey E. de la Cruz and Shirley Gaffu Castro (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

Rey E. de la Cruz and Shirley Gaffu Castro (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

On my way to the Galapagos, I “Pinoyspotted” Shirley Gaffu Castro (Echague, Isabela), who works in the food court of Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

The giant land turtle in the Galapagos is about 70 or 80 years old. (Photo by Valentin Uribe Lopez. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

The giant land turtle in the Galapagos is about 70 or 80 years old. (Photo by Valentin Uribe Lopez. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

To be in places where great ideas were born is a one-of-a-kind experience. Such was my observation when I visited the Galapagos, which inspired Charles Darwin to hypothesize the theory of evolution and write the landmark book, On the Origins of Species. But the Galapagos archipelago is only a glimpse of Ecuador, a travel kaleidoscope that also features highlands, coastal lowlands, jungles of the higher Amazon, and a whole range of interesting cultures. The country is definitely a delightful place to visit, feel and enjoy!

I learned some Ecuadorian folk-dance steps from Maria Agustina Roldan Mendoza in Alausi, Ecuador. (Photo by Antonio Reascos. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

I learned some Ecuadorian folk-dance steps from Maria Agustina Roldan Mendoza in Alausi, Ecuador. (Photo by Antonio Reascos. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

The author with Ana Ulloa Vera and Positively Filipino contributor Dr. Penelope Flores (Photo by Cristina Salazar. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

The author with Ana Ulloa Vera and Positively Filipino contributor Dr. Penelope Flores (Photo by Cristina Salazar. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

My traveling companion in mainland Ecuador was Penelope Flores, Ph.D. (Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro), a professor emeritus in education at San Francisco State University. We learned from the ikat weaving demonstration of Ana Ulloa Vera in San Pedro de los Olivos, which is near Cuenca, Ecuador.

Philip Lao, Irene Ong Lao, and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Christina Tan. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

Philip Lao, Irene Ong Lao, and Rey E. de la Cruz (Photo by Christina Tan. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

I went shopping in Puerto Ayora on the waterfront on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. I met Philip Lao (Manila) and Irene Ong Lao (Davao City), who are a stockbroker and a homemaker, respectively. They were on a cruise in the Galapagos.

Junerose Juan, the author, and Ruslan Sokolov (Photo by Roberto Pepolas. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

Junerose Juan, the author, and Ruslan Sokolov (Photo by Roberto Pepolas. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

My tour group took a boat to go to Seymour Airport on the island of Baltra in the Galapagos. I happened to sit with a couple from San Francisco: Junerose Juan and Ruslan Sokolov. She is a speech pathologist, whereas he is a software engineer. Junerose speaks Spanish and Tagalog, and her parents are from Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. Ruslan, who is originally from Russia, celebrated his birthday in Galapagos.

With Modesto Romualdo. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

With Modesto Romualdo. (Photo courtesy of Rey E. de la Cruz. Photo editing by Ivan Kevin Castro)

Returning from my trip to mainland Ecuador, I enjoyed conversing in Ilocano with Modesto Romualdo (Banna, Ilocos Norte). He is a baggage handler for an airline company at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.


Rey E. de la Cruz

Rey E. de la Cruz

Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., writes from Chicagoland when he is not loving the arts and traveling. He is the author of the children’s book, Ballesteros on My Mind: My Hometown in the Philippines, which also has Ilocano, Spanish, and Tagalog versions.