|Thinking back on the past week, there have been so many fun activities. We explored 2 of the 13 major islands and one of the 6 smaller islands of the Archipelago de Colon (aka Galapagos Islands) the. We also got to drive past 5 other islets and small islets of the Archipelego. Two of these were Daphne Major and Daphne Minor. I got to be reminded of my sister almost an entire day, every time I saw these big rock craters sticking up out of the ocean. |
On Thursday morning we took a ferry with 2 200hp outboard engines the 30-ish miles to Santa Cruz Island. Interestingly, this was the slow ferry. The one we returned on on Saturday had 3 200hp outboards and took half an hour less time to cross the same distance. Thursday afternoon we toured the Charles Darwin center which has some science research facilities (didn't look at these) and the tortoise nursery which hatches, raises and re-patriates 5-year-old tortoises back to the original islands from which they came. There are 13 different tortoise species here so they are careful to put them back where they got them. Also, numerous adults are in large natural corrals. People are allowed to walk in the corrals with the tortoises as long as they don't step on the feeding platforms or harrass the creatures.
TORTOISE FACT: females have very short tails that are almost impossible to see. Males are larger than females and have very fat, long pointy tails (almost a foot long). This is true for sea turtles as well.
Also on Thursday we took a taxi out of town to a lava tunnel whose entrance station reminded me of the tacky, faded get up you see at the entrance to "Trees of Mystery" in Northern California. They even had the prerequisite large hand lettered sign that was confusing and non-sensical as well as old tortoise shells on the deck for people to crawl in and poke their heads out for photo opportunities. (No we didn't try it). We walked through the big tube that ranged from 20 to 40 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide. It was about half a mile long and quite cool inside.
The next day we paid for a cruise out to Seymour Island, a small island north of Santa Cruz. Blue footed boobies were nesting and doing their one-footed mating dances. Sea lions were laying around with large black marine iguanas walking past their noses. Frigate bird males were sitting or flying with their bright red chest balloons inflated, hoping to attract the ladies. Our guide taught us a few things.
BOOBY FACT: Blue footed boobies don't poop in their nests. They either get up and walk ouside the indentation in the dirt that serves as a nest, or kick it out. You can see the result in the booby photo in the previous entry.
Our tour on Friday included a snorkel session back on Santa Cruz Island. Our group of 20 people got offloaded to a white beach with turtle tracks from surf to the top of the dunes. There was a bit of a swell coming in and so the visibility was quite low. Even so, we went out and saw some parrot fish and a pretty one I heard was called a Gobbin (something like that). As I was snorkeling next to Brian, I heard him say, "Shark" GULP. About 10 feet ahead of us through the murky water, I saw the neck, body, white-tipped fins and tail of a 5-foot reef shark. You can bet I was sticking next to Brian as it swam away. Lucky for my peace of mind, I had looked up the stats on shark attacks for 2008. Mexico is by far the most dangerous place with Australia and California coming in next. No incidents in the South Pacific Islands, despite the thousands of snorkelers and divers here every year. So, our first shark sighting.
Saturday morning we hiked out across hot lava rocks and through a salt flat with pink water to a place called Las Grietas. Here, salt water and fresh water have filled deep sluices in the volcanic rocks. The water is cold and clear clear clear. Some reef fish are stuck in the pools and are beautiful and huge (no predators). Kristin and I snorkeled to the end of the first large one, crawled over some rocks and swam under another rock to get to a second deep pool with different types of fish in it. It was one of my favorite things we did.
All in all, the trip to Santa Cruz felt like a real vacation. No boat chores staring us in the face. Staying on land at a Bed and Breakfast (La Peregrina-we recommend it!) and not having to cook or clean was also a big break. Saturday we returned by ferry to San Cristobal and had a mellow evening since we were a bit sick. Sunday,. the water was clear again and Kristin and I got in an early morning snorkel at the "turtle beach". We swam with graceful soaring green sea turtles over plant covered rocks. Under each turtle we could see small blennies swimming. After that, we took Kristin over next to the pier to fulfill her goal of swimming with sea lions. About 5 sea lions appeared when we got in the water and played hide and seek with looking at us under the water and then above. They are as curious as a two-year old and as playful as labrador puppies. None of them allowed us to touch them.
Now Kristin and Justin are back home and we have to figure out our timing to leave. Needs to be soon. But we have chores to do! Buying groceries, cutting out our spinnaker sock so I can sew it under way, attaching a block for the spinnaker, having water delivered, putting things away and catching a few more waves or snorkel sessions will keep us here until at least Thursday.