Monday, 27 August 2012

Galapagos Islands Part 2

We lined up early on the dock in San Cristobal Island to take the 7 AM water taxi to Puerto Ayora.  What a ride!!!!!  The water taxi was overly packed with people.  Luckily Kevin and I bought our tickets yesterday.  Even more lucky we got a part of the bench under a cover, because little did we know how choppy it would be and the passengers outside where hammered with early morning salt water!

For 2 hours we banged through the high waves, passengers were sick (we were not).  Every wave knocked all of us on top of each other.  Kevin, who was sitting to my left, didn't mind because I'd end up on him.  However, I wasn't keen about the much larger lady to my right landing on both of us!! It was actually quite comical.

The taxi eventually arrived Puerto Ayora, where it was calm and beautiful again.  We have very little luggage, so we just walked into town to where the organizers of our boat asked us to meet.  We are about 2 hours early, and the cafe actually had internet.. woo hoo!  So we used our time well while waiting.  Until the power went out for the entire island.  Then we just enjoyed a bit of shopping... and for one of us, an early midday beer!

We expected the other passengers in our group to meet at the same place. But two of the boat crew came into the restaurant, asked if we are Kevin and Sherri (that's us!) and asked us to come with them.  Hmmm.. maybe everyone else is already on the boat then??





 This is the first view of our new home for the next few days... Wow!!!


We get off the dinghy expecting to see the other passengers in the lounge, and there is nobody!  The boat is so beautiful!! We start running around, exploring and taking pictures of everything like two kids who just moved into a new house!!


Kevin and I both keep saying, "Can you believe this??!!"  I have honestly never seen or been on a boat so beautiful in my life.  And I have been on a lot of boats!  We feel like we have won the lottery as we keep exploring.


I asked Kevin, "Is it possible they got us wrong?  Did we answer to the crew of a different super VIP Luxury boat?

Nope, they have our name and want to show us to our cabin now.  Holy _____, we are loving this and get to live here for 6 whole days.. woo hoo!!


Compared to our horrible experience on the Independence from Panama, I think we actually did just win the lottery...


We get to our cabin, and it's just as beautiful.  Kevin has now gone beyond excited and reached super goofy excited.  We have been riding and living together 24/7 for a while now.  We have stayed in some absolute dives, and we have stayed in some amazing places along the way.  But I honestly have never seen him so happy and goofy like he is now.

I remember taking this picture because I am in shock listening to him.. He keeps talking and carrying on like I've never known before.  I can even see my expression in this photo says, "Who is this guy???" ;-)


The cabin is so awesome, we wonder then if they got us wrong again!  Well seriously, we would have been the last to book this boat, and at 50% discount, we expected the worst cabin, Or to be down below, in the engine room or dungeon.  But instead, we've got this large cabin and private bathroom with marble, glass and gorgeous wood.


Right about now, while we are unpacking, Kevin asks me where his new camera is (he's been taking photos with his old one).  I don't know, I haven't seen you with it for a while though.  We rummage through every bag and every drawer, even though we don't have much with us.  It's definitely not here.   I asked him to think about the last time he saw it.  In the restaurant?  No...  You know what!  He was shopping for a waterproof bag for it and realized he set it down to look at the bag, bought the bag, but hasn't seen the camera since!

Luckily the other passengers have not arrived.  The boat carries 16, so we are expecting 14 more people and every single one of them is on the same flight from mainland Ecuador to Baltra Airport.  Then they have to be taxied from the far north to us in the south port and are running very late.  The crew agree to take us back to shore by dinghy to go (hopefully) find his camera!

Whew!  The lady in the shop had his camera safely tucked away, thank goodness!!  Lucky boy..

Kevin saw this as an opportunity to stock up on a bit more beer and wine, as we anticipate it will be much cheaper to buy in the shops rather than on board.

Once we got back to the boat, the others have arrived and we meet our naturalist guide who lives on the boat as well.  He gives us all a briefing of what to expect each day.  This being day 1, he actually has a little excursion planned for us before we sail.

Back into the dinghy once again. We are going to the local part of Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station, where we get our first educated look with a guide of what they are doing to protect this amazing part of the world.


Literally one of the first things we learn about is this toxic tree, Manzanillo.  They want to teach you up front so to be aware not only here, but on the other islands.  If you touch the bark or a leaf, it could cause itching and burning of your skin.  If you eat the fruit of this tree, which looks like apple (manzana), it can be fatal to humans.  Gee whiz!!  Got it.. Stay away from the Manzanillo tree.....!  I'm wondering if it's more of a scare tactic to keep the tourists obeying the rules from the beginning.. ha!


Next up we get to see something extra special.  This is Lonesome George, the most famous tortoise in the Galapagos.  He is the last living tortoise of his kind and when he dies, will be officially extinct.  The scientists have tried many times to get George to mate with no luck.

OMG... I just looked up on the internet to verify what subspecies of tortoise is Lonesome George (the Pinta Island Tortoise) and I see that he died on June 24, 2012.  Although his exact age is unknown, he was believed to be around 100 years old.


That is really sad and I am thinking about how lucky (or unlucky) I am to be amongst the last to see a species before it's extinct.  This in itself is incredible, but even more sad because the reason for the extinction is because they were hunted to death before the Galapagos were protected. Wow, I still can't believe I just found out he's gone.  Best get back to what else we see and learn.. ;-(


Ooooh, man.  Big yellow!!  I think this iguana looks like it's wearing those rubber kitchen cleaning gloves with that saggy skin. 

Our naturalist guide tells us about the next tortoises we see.  I find it hard to see the difference, but like any twins you first meet, they look identical!  However, once you get to know them, it's usually easy to distinguish the difference. (I'm not there yet..)


There are heaps of tortoises here, but I like this one because it lays on the ground like my dog used to do at home... ;-)



That was cool.  It was great to meet the others and get this party started!  After taking the dinghy back to the boat, we finally get to sail.



Kevin brings out the wine from our cabin and we enjoy a gorgeous Galapagos sunset before dinner. It turned out neither Kevin or I paid attention at our first briefing, because the crew was looking all over the boat for us.  Every passenger was sitting down for dinner inside waiting for us!  I, personally, was really embarrassed.  I don't think Kevin was.. ;-)


See you in the morning! ;-))))
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