The Galapagos Islands

Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Chapter 2

Hola Amigos

Our next flight was to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. We arrived in the dark, stayed one night and left early the next morning to fly out to the Galapagos Islands. We didn't see very much so we cannot comment. That will wait for our return.
We have met up with Martin's sister who has spent the last 3 months chilling out here. And in the 8 days we have been on this island called Santa Cruz we have made many local friends.

To describe this piece of Charles Darwin's heaven would be along the lines of fantastic, amazing, beautiful, increadible, friendly, the list is endless.
Our first encounter was with an in bound flying crane landing right next to us on the pavement. It together with the pelicans and friendly sea lion were attracted to the fisherman landing their catch of the day.
    OK OK it's coming Brown pelican
The huge giant tortoises within the Charles Darwin National Park are within walking distance of our hotel. You can sit next to them for ages and still not believe that you are actually really there.

Huge Friggot Birds soar across the bay like Terradactals. Flocks of Blue Foot Boobies dive from a great height for fish then bob to the surface like a plastic duck in your bath, only to repeat the show again and again there right in front of you. It's just amazing. Our new digital camera is certainly being put though it's paces and so far we are not disappointed with any of the results.
    Friggot Bird Some Boobies!!
Yesterday we made our first scuba dive. We arrived at the sight with loads of sea lions swimming round the boat and barking. We got ready and jumped in. We dived to 18 meters and there for the duration of 45 minutes we swam along and played with as many as 30 sea lions. We twisted, rolled and turned just like them and they loved it. They swam soooo close you could touch them if you were quick enough and looked right into our eyes. Words cannot describe the high we felt after that dive, it's indescribable.
We got to see turtles on both dives too as well as the usual marine life.
   
After over a week on Santa Cruz island we booked a cruise aboard a yacht which will be our home for the next week touring round the other islands (most of which are uninhabitated) to explore yet more wildlife........

......So we boarded our boat which was to be our home for the next 7 days.
'Bad luck guys' says the existing passengers form California 'we have had no hot water or aircon for the last 4 days!' Well with atleast 10 other english speaking passengers, 6 of which were British, a mass mutiny ensured. If we have learnt one thing in all the countries we have travelled it's when you book something always go with an open mind and trust bloody no-one!
We took a back seat while the others made a noise - well they tried but there were no crew to make a noise at! Funny that! Eventually we all retired to our cabins not knowing if the problems had been fixed............

The next morning our guide for the duration of our time on the boat was quick to explain that he was just the guide and not crew. Yes there was problems with the generator and another had been bought on board so we would have hot showers etc but as we learnt our evenings would be somewhat dark at times as the lights failed occasionally. Another thing you learn is take your torch with you in the evenings.

Well that made an interesting start. And then there was our cabin which was situated right next to the engine. Great- no siestas for us for 2 days until we switched cabins leaving some poor other new passengers to suffer the noise. Atleast the boat didn't sail at night well not while we were in it!! We hope they had learnt to have 'open minds' too!!

Good news was the generator was fixed after 2 and a half days and all the mutineers were happy- well maybe! Now back to the purpose of our trip.........
sun bathing Green Sea Turtle
The Galapagos Islands, well what can we say.....the wild life and itīs environment are so diverse you just have to visit them to really appreciate how amazing it is. If God really did make the world then she came up trumps on this one!
We encountered literally hundreds of friendly sea lions as the next email of photos shows.
    
We walked over lava flows as far as the eye could see and encountered hundred of Marine Iguanas and Lava Lizards that live on it. The Iguanas swam in the sea while we snorkelled and sometimes the odd friendly sea lion would come and join us too.
We even saw 3 killer whales on our first day!
The Islands are famous for the Blue Footed Boobie birds which as their name suggests really do have the most vivid blue feet. They would look great hanging from a keyring! Only joking folks!
    
We learnt about Swallow tailed gulls who when they have finished preening or looking around they become bored so they bend their heads down and look at their feet for a minute or 2. Really funny to watch. Look for the photo above.
We saw and swam with turtles and even the odd Galapagos penguin went swimming past as we snorkeled.

Martin and I got to dive from our 16 passenger boat. One dive really has to be the highlight of our cruise and that was to dive with over 20 Hammerhead sharks. Yes that was Hammerhead and over 20!! They look so weird to have heads like the handle bars of a bike and then have their eyes placed right at the end.
I failed to mention:-
the frigate birds where the males blow out their bright red throats to attract a mate,
the graceful flamingos with their salmon and peach coloured feathers,
and then there was the albatross- fantastic huge birds, how they get off the ground is a feet of ingenuity.
  Marine Iguana it's tricky to hide when you're this colour
We learnt so much in that week and had some great laughs with the other fellow passengers many of whom have joined the Chapter list.

Back on dry land we all suffered a serious case of "boat roll" where your brain and balance is trying to fool you into thinking you are still at sea. This decreased as the days went on.
Back on Santa Cruz Island we again met up with Martinīs sister and her friends she had made in the last 3 and a half months of being there.

Martin and I braved the 3 hour dodgy looking boat journey to the Island of Isabella. This to us was the true inhabited Galapagos Island. With only a handful of tourists the people here were lovely,warm and friendly. So different to Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz which is really is just a port to serve the thousands of people who fly in one day and jump on their cruise boat the next.

One of our days on Isabella we went horse riding. We made the 2 hour ride up to the 2nd biggest volcano crater in the world. Some 10kms across it was pretty spectacular. It has to be said that Martin doesn't ride horses despite me having one for 17 years. By the looks of it's face I donīt think Martinīs horse had had anyone that tall or heavy on his back. This did not stop his steed from breaking into a trot at any given moment even down hill! My cheeks ached from laughing so much and somehow I think Martinīs did too but not the cheeks Iīm talking about!
 
It was on Isabella that we said our goodbyes to Martinīs sister as she had managed to blag her way onto a free ride on a catamaran and sail to the Marquesers, a group of islands above Tahiti. She is spending the next 20 days at sea. Half of that has gone as I type. Itīs a place she has always wanted to go so we wish her luck. Serious "boat roll" or what when she lands?

We returned to Santa Cruz to say farewell to our new found (felt like old) friends and then flew back to the mainland of Ecuador and itīs capital Quito.

So now you have all fallen asleep we shall leave you all until next time amigos. xx
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