Thursday, 23 August 2012

Galapagos Islands Part 1

Welcome to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador!!


I will have to say right up front that the Galapagos Islands has been one of the most AMAZING places on the planet I've ever been and so incredibly LUCKY to see. Making it in one or two blog posts will be impossible.  I imagine it will be divided into at least 4 different posts, if not more.  I am going to go absolutely crazy with far too many photos.  Between Kevin and I, we took thousands.  I'm going to whittle down as much as I can (which has been very hard), but I still know it's going to be photographic overload.  My logic and reasoning is that it may not be good to have a blog post this full of photos, however, I will want them here as my memories to look back on from years to come.  So whiz past them if they get to be too much.. and enjoy what you can!


This is a boring first photo on the island.. but let me explain.  We did get that stand-by flight I mentioned in the last post.. Thanks again Paul!!  And we have arrived the island of San Cristobal.  The airlines have only 2 islands they can land on, and it so happens the only seats we could get was to the smaller island that does NOT have our boat.  However, we've planned well and we can enjoy a whole day on this island and then take a water taxi to Baltra to meet the boat we've booked at 7 AM tomorrow morning.

So for that first photo?  I was so excited! It was my first spotting of seals or sea lions (not sure at this point) along the sidewalks and park benches in town near the airport!  The town is called Baquerizo Moreno.  I expected to start seeing wildlife tomorrow when we got onto our boat that takes us through the national park. But here they are today, right in town!  Did we really need to book that boat?  Well I hope so and think so.  Each boat comes with a Nature guide and we have hikes scheduled every day with him.



We are only in the Galapagos for what seems like milliseconds and experiencing so much already!!  This is so cool.

 

This sea lion on the bench was not thrilled we passed by a bit too close. So much like a dog, it made some sort of sea lion unhappy noises while it raised it's head.  (Hey, we're new here and need to learn the boundaries.. ! ;-)


There are only sea lions and no people on the beach here in town. It must be a protected zone, so we hung the cameras over the railing to check out the locals soaking up the sun.


OMG.. check out the teeny tiny baby!!! All by itself!!


I can't help but to talk to it and ask where it's mother is.. it was crying for her!


It was making me sad to hear it cry out, but a local tells me that it's normal.  Mom is out fishing, she'll be back soon... I hope! In the meantime, little baby was trying to chew on and get milk out of the black hose.. ;-(


Now he's  looking at me upside down.. too cute!

Kev, check out that bird! It's freakin' huge!!  What is it??


We came to learn it's called the Frigate Bird.. so it's frigate huge then!! ;-)))  sorry..

And along the beach rocks, check out these guys!!  


Everything is like a huge discovery for us.  We are like two little Darwins seeing the new world for the first time! And what else I just learned IS that San Cristobal was the first of the Galapagos Islands that Charles Darwin set foot on in 1835 as well!  We are following his footsteps and didn't even know it!  And by the looks of the local residents, I doubt they are any different to when Charles was discovering them that long ago.. super cool.

We found a wonderful small hostel on the edge of town and the owner gave us the Ecuadorian version of the penthouse suite three stories up. Ecuador is so cheap, so it's not like we are spending much, but we do feel a bit spoiled!

So a change from clothes to swimsuits, relax.. we made it! And soak up the atmosphere.



After a few moments of "Ahhh. this is great.."  The conversation quickly turned to.. "Wait, we are in the freakin' Galapagos, we can't stay here on the roof!"

The lady who owns the hostel suggested we walk down the street to Mann beach (Playa Mann).  Besides the beautiful beach, we can also visit the Charles Darwin Institute.

Once at the institute, Kevin realizes he didn't bring his good camera.  So I opted to hold the fort down on the beach. Maybe I can get a quick suntan while he's away (with pre-planned beer! ;-)  I just found this photo, so he must have snuck this shot in on his way back.. bugger! 


There are plenty of sea lions at this beach. Compared to the beach in town, this one has humans too!  I also remember thinking how cool it is that it's mostly local Ecuadorians here.  It's not the weekend, and although Galapagos Islands is a super touristy place, I wonder if the locals flew here from the mainland or if they live here? Many of them flew.  When I asked about it I learned that there is a local festival planned in a couple days, which is why the flights were sold out.


How fun it was to watch the kids play in the same space as the sea lions play!  Neither species seems to be fussed about or bothering the other!


Sometimes I think they are cute, and sometimes I think.. hmmm, they have big teeth..



All right, now that Kevin's back and before he gets too comfortable on the beach, he finishes his beer and we go check out the Charles Darwin Institute.  I'm surprised they have not renamed these islands, the Charles Darwin Islands.  I'm glad they didn't, Galapagos is such a fun word.  If you don't know who he is, Charles was a biologist from England who arrived the Galapagos in 1835 while on a 5 year voyage around the world.  "His studies of specimens around the globe led him to formulate his theory of evolution and his views on the process of natural selection. In 1859, he published On the Origin of the Species."

After Kevin and I learned a brief history about the islands and species inside the building, we followed a path that took us on stroll through nature out the back.


Close to the institute I found this little lizard holding a piece of paper.  I was laughing so hard! Is it like a message in a bottle?  I took that paper away from the little guy.. I felt so bad!  But I felt like Darwin would not want these local species carrying around modern trash.  There was nothing important written inside, the paper had been torn off of something bigger. Oh well, I was quite excited it might have instructions to a secret treasure!


Not long after we found another good looking lizard. They do these little quick push-ups to warn you off. Very cute.



I loved the look of the lighthouse and I was walking ahead to take photos.  Then I sort of realized that all those rocks are not just rocks!  There are iguanas in there and lots of them!  I can not tell you how long both of us walked along these rocks before noticing.  Once I did, I was snapping away, and Kevin kept saying, "Good spotting Sherri!"  This was so exciting.



They blend in far too well!


I see you.............


I was worried this little guy had his flipper stuck between the rocks.  Kevin told me to leave it alone, if it's stuck, it's all part of the process of natural selection... ;-/ It seems that Kevin paid better attention in the institute than I did..



I'm trying to find a path through that won't cause me to step on a sea lion, iguana, crab or any other creature we have not yet discovered.




Talk about an intelligent Mom!  After I took the first photo, she covered her baby's face for privacy.. ha!  Good on ya!


We climbed the lighthouse, which was cool, but it was more fun on land with all the amazing animals. We went back down and found this super good looking guy.



Continuing our walk of discovery back toward the beer beach, where we spottod another super tiny baby.  After having a closer look, we found that pretty well all of these bushes along the sand are housing mammas and babies.


This one was sadly kicked out.  The Mom under the bush had a bigger baby nursing.  So it's either an older sibling?  or it's own Mom is out fishing and it was hungry enough to try to sneak milk from another sea lion.. cheeky!







It cried and cried and tried to figure out what we are. I wish I knew how to find it's Mom. Kevin is like, "What are you going to do about it?  Go and save every sea lion in the Galapagos?"  I know, I know.  It's hard to look at those big sad eyes, and listen without wanting to help.

2 comments:

  1. Sensational blog. I have been following for a while, great reading. Every day a new adventure.

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    1. Thank you so much.. More to come! ;-)

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