How many people does it take to check you into the Galápagos? I can feel a lightbulb joke coming on, but the reality is that clearing into the Galápagos is a serious matter, and people do get turned away if they don't comply with the regulations. We had read as much in various blogs, researching the protocols and following the guidance from our super-responsive agent Javier Plus Rizzo (www.yachtgalayachtservices.com - email: firstname.lastname@example.org), who we found through RAFTKIN. Anyone visiting multiple islands needs the services of an agent to acquire an autográfo permit. Still nothing quite prepared us for nine officials coming on board the afternoon we arrived. There was the diver who was checking our hull (pristine! See post on Las Perlas - click here), officials from the Ministry of Environment checking for foreign plants, bugs or wild livestock (apparently kids are acceptable), the Navy checking out our engines, Carmela, our guardian angel, mine of information and Javier's rep, Police and Immigration.
It may sound a bit heavy handed, but the reality was that the inspection was as friendly as it was efficient. We got drinks out from the fridge (non-alcoholic to be sure), and we all chatted away while filling out various forms. It helped that Xavier and I both spoke Spanish for sure. Cameras came out for a group shot, for official purposes, but everyone was more than happy to pose for another for our records as well. That set the tone for the whole of our stay in the Galápagos - everywhere we go, tourists and locals alike, everyone just seems simply happy with who and where they are, and treats others accordingly.
And it wasn't just the humans... following on from the pair of boobies (see previous post), another couple of clowns turned up several hours before the inspection, to unofficially check us out (see video below) and give us the seal of approval... welcome to the Galápagos experience!