Still 50 miles from San Cristobal and the bird life was already incredible.  We arrived in Galapagos at sunrise, to wreck bay, full of cruising boats.  Saw some familiar boats already, our new friends for the rest of the voyage???  Within minutes of dropping our anchor Pedro an agent came to arrange the port captain’s visit.  Within an hour we had 4 people on board, checking our supplies (had to give up a lime and 2 remaining oranges), filling in paperwork and getting organized, and without quite knowing how it happened we were in a water taxi heading to land.  I was so exhausted, as happens after a long passage, but we made it to shore with our brains still almost working and managed to get through the formalities.  The strangest part was paying our parks fees/agent fees/immigration fees/ quarantine fees all at Pedro’s “office” in the back of a tiny shop on the big chest freezer, so strange!  Then we were left to our own devices until 3 pm when we had to go back to collect our paperwork.  We hadn’t planned on being ashore all day but thankfully I packed sunscreen; the equatorial sun here is crazy bright!  We wandered through town, checking out the sights.  It is a great little place, the front street has a bunch of shops and restaurants, beer at the local places is $1.50/bottle (or 2.50 for a big bottle) sea lions lounging about all over the boardwalk.  They have really done a lovely job developing the walkway, lots of benches to check out and some sketchy things to (following the Latin American “if they are stupid enough to try it isn’t our fault they got hurt) including 2 children’s slides that go from the boardwalk into about 10 inches of water at low tide in a sea lion infested pool!  The board walk is fabulous, my favourite are the people that walk along the narrow waterfront bit just far enough to run into a sea lion then have to turn back and walk the rest of the way to get around them! 

We found a great place for lunch, run by the happiest people in the world, they sold hamburgers (fairly sure it wasn’t at any point in its life beef) and milkshakes with tonnes of fruit hanging all over the shop, a really fun and friendly place and just what the doctor ordered after 8 days at sea.  We wandered around town, found Pablo and got our paperwork and were just sitting in a little park when we ran into Doug and Zulaica from La Luz who we had met before when we were in Panama city.  They took us for our first fabulous beer, it was delicious, and then I slept!

We are anchored near a few rafts that during the day are covered in sea lions, such funny noises, kind of a cross between a sneeze, a bark and an old man coughing.  Watching them swim under the boat is incredible!  The second day here I jumped in the crystal water and took a look at our poor little seamonkey.  She was covered in brown slime on the topsides just above the water line and below the water was absolutely COVERED in these cool little stubborn little pain in the tucas little gooseneck barnacles.  They were pink and flowery and you could see them floating their little tentacles into the current catching dinner.  Then I took a scraper and without a second thought I scraped the poor little things right off!  Felt good to have our boat a bit cleaner but it was amazing how much stuff managed to grow in 8 days at sea.  Poor Phil, it pains him to have a not clean boat bottom.  He is counting down to Tahiti when we might actually have a chance to get some more antifouling on there.

The sea lions really love sitting out of the water so dinghies are at a high risk of sinking.  There is also nowhere to leave the dinghy on shore so they have water taxis that head over to the boats and take us to shore.  It costs a dollar each way which can get expensive when you want to go in more than once a day, but it is an easy way to get around.  Don and Phyllis took us for a delicious lunch, 3.50 for soup, rice, meat, potatoes and juice, a great deal!  Wednesday we were possibly going out for a tour but decided we were still too tired, a good thing to because the rain came!  I was going to go and buy water with Zulaica and luckily we waited because between our new bucket/roof water catcher design and me sitting with a pot outside collecting water off our sunshades we managed to fill up our tanks with at least 20 gallons of water!  I think Bermuda and drinking roof water made it an easier transition for drinking rain water off the roof (although we still couldn’t bring ourselves to drinking water off of the foredeck, too much panama dirt still ground into the decks). It was incredible to watch the water go from so clear you could count the fish and watch the sea lions to brown with run off and plants floating past.  Water is a hot commodity here, not a lot and when it rains like this they can have contamination in the drinking water.  This is a place where it is worth buying bottled water.

  Finally headed off the boat into town, to check out the sea lions and have a bit of a walk, once again found Doug and Zulaica and had dinner out. It has been really lovely eating in restaurants, especially since we aren’t allowed to throw our organic waste away.  They were really insistent on no organic waste from boats heading to shore.  Makes you not want to have a lot of organic trash! 

Thursday, the swell rolled in, I hadn’t realized what a lovely happy, comfortable princess I had become, watching the swell and trying to get anything done on the boat was impossible.  We decided to get off and head to shore (thank heavens) and walked over to the interpretation centre.  We also went past GAIAS a satellite campus of University San Francisco in Quito (on Friday I headed in and am going to check out a class on Monday!).  Then up to the nature reserve and interpretation centre.  It was so well done, lots of history on the island and some stuff about the future of Galapagos.  They are huge into their sustainable development here, developing tourism to be sustainable, renewable energy, the water crisis and immigration.  Really interesting, and very cool to learn that this hasn’t been a deserted island just found by Darwin but has had a thriving community for centuries.  There was a really beautiful hike around the nature reserve and we saw our first marine iguanas while watching a bunch of guys surfing at Carola.  Finches, a smooth billed ani, frigate birds, pelicans, snakes, lizards, it really was wildlife central and I wish I had an ID book to use.  There is an amazing bay for snorkelling and when you stand above it there is a perfect view down to watch the sea lions playing.  I think it is only with that perspective that you can begin to understand how fast these guys can move.  So cool to watch them play.  We saw a booby fly overhead.  I had seen a bluefooted booby flying around the anchorage the day before, in the driving rain; hope we’ll see another one!  Climbed all the way up frigate bird hill and it was an incredible view.  So many living things, so unafraid, it is like I imagined.  On the way back down it started to rain, that’s when I realized my flipflops were past their useful life.  They were so slippery Phil had to hold my arm like a little old lady all the way into town!  Again, ran into Doug and Zulaica and another lovely dinner with them and with Don and Phyllis, no one wanted to be on the boats as they were flopping around in the swell, it was impossible to do anything on them, and difficult to sleep.  The next morning though Phil woke up and took advantage of it and went for a 3 hour surf with Doug.  I had a surf of my own, trying to use the internet in the town.  It is incredible what you get used to.  I miss having internet that works.  Even in an internet café there was not a lot of connection.  Did the best I could but that is why I haven’t managed to post anything in a while. 

That afternoon I needed some nature so we went back to Frigate bird hill for another little walk over the volcanic rock.  It is a great area, lots of locals swimming, jogging on the paths it was really good to see so many people out and about.  I jumped into the bay and had a sea lion swim right under me. I thought it was the most amazing thing until I watched a couple of German tourists with no fear of the barking sea lions have a little pup come right over and swim around them, doing circles and floating on its back.  Really want to try getting in the water there again.   Saturday morning I was up bright and early to head to the market.  It wasn’t the most fabulous market in the world.  Not a lot of different produce than we have seen at the grocery store, peppers, mangoes, a peach, and some pears.  Bought some meat, so different than the sterile grocery stores of north America.  A chunk of meat hanging or on the counter, no washing hands, cutting off a chunk and putting it into a scale that just held a piece of fish or some chicken.  I had the option of fresh chicken, still with feathers and clucking, feet bound together, couldn’t even imagine what to do with it!  The fish was a challenge enough!  After shopping I wandered through the town and had a really lovely look around.  They had closed off the street the market was on and a tonne of information booths were set up.  I learned about the sea lions which seem to be everywhere but are in fact endangered, some of the local plants, pest control… a bit of everything!  Came home with so much Spanish literature Phil just laughed!  That afternoon we headed to Lobaria, the sea lion sanctuary.  It was a long sweltering walk on pavement, started to understand why people pay for a taxi!  It was a beautiful beach, the surf was still breaking.  We saw more marine iguanas and sea lions.  A little bird tried to flit under my hat which was the only shade in a long way.  Phil had a lizard crawl on his shorts which were the colour of a rock, very nature time!  The path seemed to go a long distance, yet another hike I would like to do.  The longer we stay the more adventures there seem to be!  On the way home we decided to jump in the water, the visibility wasn’t fabulous because of the surf, but what a snorkel.  So many cool fish that I have never seen before.  Angel fish with really different colours, black fish with yellow lips, parrot fish not like normal.  Then the amazing things, a sea snake (or an eel) yellow with black spots, slithering past beneath me and two HUGE rays, the big one (with no spots) had at least a 5 foot wingspan and it glided not 3 feet underneath of me, followed by a slightly smaller one with spots. Unfortunately they were out of sight before Phil could stop to take a look.  The currents were pretty big there, so you couldn’t go too far out, but I’m looking forward to getting back in the water there.  Apparently there are often big turtles which would be great to see! After our adventure we caught up with Bombelero (who had just arrived from panama city) and La Luz, starting to get to know the other boats and so strange to think this will be our caravan community for the next long time!  Then brought Doug and Zulaica over for dinner, it was nice to cook on the boat again and to have company. 

Yesterday (Sunday) was rain, collected another 10 gallons of water, like mana from the heavens.  Phil got a few jobs done and I managed to launch to Beagle (our inflatable kayak) making it much easier to hop around the anchorage to have a few little visits with people.  It is funny for 50 cents you can get to another boat, but it is so much more fun to go on my own.  I pulled up to Solstice and had a bit of a visit and came out to an “oh dear” I had left the kayak alongside solstice and a sea lion as big as me was lounging in it!  In response to my oh dear, he looked at me, barked and then flopped back over the side! 

So here we are this morning, I am off to head to class, interested in what they teach here and how they teach so I’m going to sit in on a few lectures.  Phil is going to paddle me over and I will probably swim home, how funny is that!  We still want to head out for a dive/snorkel in the offshore waters and are looking forward to our land tour.  Then there are all the hikes around.  We have been here a week today and it has gone fast!  Hope to post this soon

Leave a Reply.