More excitement on the Galápagos
Last night we had dinner with the captain. As overseer of this trip, having dinner with the guests is one of his many jobs. He offered up a captains toast before dinner – some rum and fruit juice kind of drink – and introduced the staff. And then rooms one and two were invited to dine with him. All of the folks who work the travel industry in the Galápagos are Ecuadorian! This is something the local people fought for for many years. They organized strikes. Closed the airports. All sorts of drastic methods to convince the government to actually listen to them, the local people! Finally they were successful!
There are 13 people working on this small boat, which carries 20 passengers! The Letty is fully booked for the entire season! This is considered a luxury trip and it’s pretty pricey – however, the accommodations are hardly luxurious! The rooms are tiny. (One must love his/her bunk mate! 😳). The space is pretty limited. When we all gather for the nightly briefing, we all sit in this space where we can just barely fit – once we remove the pillows! 😀. The food is delicious and healthy but certainly not extravagant. I especially enjoy Maria., the only female staff. She keeps the rooms cleaned and is so upbeat and friendly! After breakfast, your room is tidy and clean. After lunch – neatened up again with an offering of delicious Ecuadorian chocolates! 😀. And again before dinner! The rooms get messy with so little space . ..
We usually have two activities each day. This morning, we took the pangas into this beautiful white sandy beach. On the island of Santa Cruz. Did you guys know that sand is sometimes created by the parrot fish. They eat the coral and then poop it out in the form of lovely, white sand! 2 tons of sand in a lifetime! We walked along the sandy beach, exploring the circular nests of giant tortoises and the pathways these giant turtles make in the sand as they crawl into the water. The naturalists work on this island. As soon as the tiny babies are born, they hand carry them to the water. There are so many predators hoping to grab one of these babies and turn them into a tasty snack! Once they are in the water, they let nature determine if the baby tortoises are going to make it! We also saw some marine iguanas- hard to pick them out as they are blackish and they crawl along the black lava rocks. This island had loads of black lava – reminded us of Kauai in Hawaii (the southern tip has a black lava beach) as well as the lava fields on Kona. Very cool scenery . . .
My favorites of this morning were the Sally Lightfoot crabs. So colorful and fun to watch. The adult crabs are very colorful (the males especially so) and they spend hours eating the lichen along the rock. Their hands are like lobster claws . . The youngsters are dark black and brown and are very hard to see as they are so camouflaged against the black lava rocks . . . And they move at lightening speed! These colorful crabs also scurry along the sand very quickly! Fun to watch them .
The morning activity was to snorkel from this sandy beach. Unfortunately, the surf was too high and Pepe decided that this would be unsafe for us . . So we mostly swam and waded in the ocean, cooled off, watched the crabs living their daily life . . . It’s a tough life . . .
Now, we have had lunch and we’re traveling to our next destination. . Afternoon activity was a hike to the same island – but at a different spot. Here – after a difficult landing with big waves and a very high tide – we walked along this path to a high spot on the island. Along the way we saw both marine and land iguanas. Very cool animals! Some brownish and gold. Some dark. They were all munching away at the vegetation, which was abundant! These animals were about two feet to three feet long. Males have a crown on their heads. Took loads of iguana pictures! 😀
We spent the entire morning on the island of Fernandino. The big volcano on this island erupted just 6 to 8 weeks ago! The lava went all the way to the ocean! The lava fields that we walked on were created by an eruption in 1967. Very very cool! We start early on this trip as there’s much to see and do! 😀. Loaded the pangas at 8:30 and took off for the short trip over to the island. This was a rugged landing on extremely slippery black lava! Like dangerous slippery. It took us quite awhile to walk 200 yards over this surface. Vivian, who has the bad hip, had one helper on either side to help her maneuver this area . . . The rest of us just took our time and watched each step.
And then, you had to make sure you weren’t stepping on a marine iguana! Honestly, there were hundreds of them laying in clumps on the black rocks. Or slowly making their way to the water . .. really incredible . . .
Then we broke up into two groups and explored . . Iguanas everywhere. Occasionally you’d see a lava lizard hanging onto the head of an iguana. They were eating the flies and also munching on the skin that the iguanas were molting . .
We came across the skeleton of a whale just sitting there. Some giant sea turtles swimming around in the ponds. My favorites crabs . . . Sally Lightfoot – clinging to the rocks or crawling out of the crevices.
Also cormorants that don’t fly. They were doing some sort of mating dance and then just relaxing in the pond. It’s an easy life for these animals. .. 😀.
Then it was back to the boat and on to the next morning adventure. Snorkeling with the giant sea tortoises and the iguanas! So very cool!
Even a little penguin flying through the water! We enjoyed an Ecuadorian lunch – seafood rice salad (loads of shrimp and ocupus here), vegetable soup, fruit, salads. And then we motored to the next island we were going to explore – Isabella. While we travel during the day, most of us end up on the upper deck under the shady tarp – reading, fixing pictures, napping, blogging, or just watching for something exciting to jump out of the water. It’s a tough life! 😀😀😀
The afternoon activity happened on the island of Isabella . The water was very choppy which meant for a quick hop off the pangas into the waves. Sand in the shoes. Cameras held way above the head! That kind of deal. We split up into two groups and went exploring. Giant tortoises and land iguanas ruled this territory. It was typically hot as it always is here but there were some clouds, which helped keep us reasonably comfortable. There wasn’t much movement of air along the jungle pathway and there were lots of poison apple trees that the Jojo was terrified of. One gentlemen got lost on this island and he ate some of these apples to sustain himself – only they caused his demise . . . 😢
It’s so darn cool to walk along this path and run into a giant tortoise sharing the path with you . . . At one point, we saw two together. Pepe thought they might be mating – but then he realized that they were both female. Apparently that doesn’t work with giant tortoises . . . 😀. Anyway. Such fun!
Back to the boat – with pizza greeting us . .as we boarded the boat! This staff is wonderful! So . . . Twice a day, as we get back from an activity, the chef has made us a special snack. We must first use the hand sanitizer – and then we’re allowed a snack or two plus some iced fruit juice – pineapple, peach, orange, lemonade. Such a luxury . . .