Hello all

It’s been a little unsettling traveling over here in the Galápagos with absolutely no internet service. Wondering what was going on with the Coronavirus in the US.   Wondering what was happening with our family . .     It’s now Sunday night.   The Galápagos will be closed as of Tuesday!    That’s two days from now . ..    No one will be allowed in and no one will be allowed to leave.   Crazy how lucky were we to be here, enjoying this little piece of paradise . ..    We’ve been in this amazing little bubble.   Nothing to worry about except which animals we might spot and when we had to be where.  We had a wake up call. All our meals were provided.   Fresh water came out of a spout . . Wonderful company  . ..    and now we must renter the real world.     It will be weird . ..      I plan to send out the blogs I have written – two days at a time . . It will be old news for us – but new news for all of you . .   😀.   I hope you enjoy . ..      So here goes . . .  Starting way back in Quito . .

Freddy (I was misspelling his name).  I must tell you about him.   He’s a guy of many talents!    His father worked at the embassy in Washington DC a number of years ago.   This is when Freddy first came to the US.   He speaks very good English, a little German, a little Italian, and, of course Spanish!    He’s 48 years old.   His wife is a travel agent and they have three children.   He is very knowledgeable about history – local history as well as world history.   He is very athletic and very fit!   John asked Freddy what he did for exercise and he told us that he used to play a lot of soccer – probably on some Ecuadorian team.   Unfortunately, he developed hepatitis and the doctors told him the only cure was no physical exercise for one whole year!    Eventually he took to cycling to fuel his need for exercise.  To this day, he does a lot of biking – including back and forth into the city for work!    He works for several travel companies, including Gate 1.   His next trip, starting tonight, is with Gate 1.   32 people for six days!  One guide!   Hard to imagine that would be much fun . .   Probably good money for him, though, as he will get lots of tips – as compared to working with the six of us.   We tip well – but clearly not as much as he’d get from 32 people!   🤔.    

Freddy also guides bike trips here in Ecuador, including some he organizes himself!    John is getting his info!   😀.    He says the trips he runs often cycle 70 miles a day – including mucho climbing!    And this is high altitude country!    Anyone interested?    Maybe Tom!    😜😛.  Maybe Joe.   Maybe John     Not the Jojo!   😀.  Freddy says the guides over here also participate in an Ironman type event whenever they can arrange it.   This event includes cycling, running, cannoning, canoeing, kayaking, swimming.  All the active sports that are available in Ecuador.     They have to stay in shape year round because this competition is often organized with two weeks lead time . . . .   Sounds like a fun job he has!

The pier at San Cristobal


Sea lions at the pier

We flew from Quito to San Cristobal – took an entire morning . .    Arrived on the island and met up with our group of travelers – numbering 20.     Of course, we have been wondering what they’d  be like and if we’d enjoy their company as we traveled around these interesting islands for a week – in a pretty small space.   😳.  It’s now day three and I’ll tell you a little about them.

Sally Lightfoot crabs along the pier
So colorful

One wonderful family.  Dad teaches politics at Princeton – delightful mom and two boys ages 11 and 13.   They are big soccer players and love to read.  They add a lot!

One couple from Australia.  On their honeymoon.  😀.   She is Chinese and some of her family members couldn’t make the wedding because they were banned from entering the country.  They are both lawyers and delightful.  They met online!  😀

Another couple are from Minneapolis.   She can barely walk because she is having a hop replaced in May.  The crew has to practically lift her in and out of the dinghy. Her husband is interesting.  We initially thought he might have the beginnings of Alzheimer’s  but not so.  He’s just a little different.   Was once a two and a half pack a day smoker and a big drinker – now totally off both drinking and smoking.   We shared dinner with this couple last night at the Captains table.   The woman is a major talker.

Another couple near our age is from Seattle.   They are fine although she can carry a conversation as well. . . .  😳.    She had two knee replacements 18 months ago.  She walks with a stick but manages pretty well . . .   Both of these ladies are real troopers!   

Then there’s a young couple from Seattle.  Both covered (literally) with tattoos.    😀.   She is a hairdresser and he runs big machines that demolish buildings.   They are fun and interesting.

Another young couple is from New York.  They both work for Google.   They have an amazing trip planned!   Starting with this Galápagos trip.  Then they travel to Peru and Buenos Aires – then they’re going to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.    Then on to Patagonia where they’re hiking the western loop in Torres de Paine     Then it’s on to Santiago.   And they finish up in the wine country!     Who wouldn’t love a trip like that?   They are adorable!    Not married.   Clearly no kids.    (Later maybe – in their 30s).  They are taking 10 days of vacation and the rest is time off with no pay!   😀.     Fun!

And then there’s the six of us!    A pretty interesting group I have to say.   The walking pace is a bit slow for the Jojo . . .    But oh well . . .  There is lots to learn as we walk along.

Day one was mostly introduction to the process over here and the boat.   Our room is on the top deck and we have great windows to the outside.   Twin beds on either side and a pretty narrow lane between them. A tiny bathroom.  We have learned that we have to take turns walking between the beds!   🤔.    We squeezed our small suitcases in the closet and unpacked into three drawers plus lots of hooks.    It’s tight quarters!     Easy to get frustrated when you can’t find something .. .    😖

Baby tortoises. Less than two years old. In safe keeping
Maybe five to seven years old. Still safe from predators
Big ones! 😀
Right in the middle of the pathway. 🤔

That first afternoon we took the dingy into town – loaded onto a bus – and drove 40 minutes to the tortoise rescue center.   So cool to see these giant tortoises crawling around.     The naturalists take the eggs once they are laid and incubate them.    They keep them contained until they are 7 to 10 years old so that they will be able to make it on their own.    Very cool experience.   Dinner on the boat and then we retired to our little room . . .    This island is called San Cristobal.   There is a town here with lots of shops.    The couple with the tattoos spent several days here surfing.   Apparently it’s a surfing destination .

Day 2

We travel at night and then have experiences during the day.   We spent the second day on Genovese Island.   No people here.  Just lots and lots of birds.  Fascinating place.    We landed the dingy and then hiked up these steep steps made of lava to the top of the island.    Not easy for our handicapped ladies . .      Saw lots of Red Footed Boobies.  They are beautiful!   Also many frigates – including a mating couple.    Fascinating.    We came back to the boat, had lunch, and then got all outfitted with wetsuits and snorkeling gear.  Apparently there are stinging jellyfish so you need protection.  Jojo struggled to get her wetsuit on and then discovered that I had it on inside out!   😖.    Had to start all over again!    Uses lots of energy . .   Unfortunately, I got very seasick while snorkeling. .   We saw lots of colorful fish but the shark appeared after we got back on the boat.  We missed it . .    I was sick right through lunch . . .couldn’t eat anything . . .    One of the guides suggested I take one of their magic pills to help.   Several of the people on this boat are using this patch that is supposed to prevent sea sickness . .     Supposedly it’s way less strong than Dramamine and doesn’t make you sleepy.   You take one every 24 hours.  So far so good . .   Our afternoon activity was a walk along the beach where we saw more birds and then snorkeling.    Jojo decided to swim instead.   D was hoping to get pictures of the fish but the water is a bit murky and he hasn’t had much luck . . .
Boats awaiting an adventure 

Beautiful Red Footed Boobies
Another one
A baby . . .
Male Frigate bird hoping to attract a female
The mating dance

It is very hot here!  And humid.   I use 70 sunscreen and have to reapply often.   This afternoon I am wearing long sleeves . .   Yikes!   We are right on the equator – actually we cross it several times during our visit here in the Galápagos.    The water is wonderfully warm for swimming.   Lots of current and often pretty big surf.    You have to carry a rain jacket with you as the showers can appear at a moments notice.

Afternoon. Lots of frigate birds. All puffed up.
Another mating activity.
Amazing colors.
A male flying around with his pouch hoping for a date! 😀

Get used to lots of pictures!   😀

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