Managing to sleep a little, we were
awakened by knocking on our door and a voice shouting, “Wet landing
in five minutes” several times over. Groggily we pulled on our
hiking boots, grabbed the day pack, water bottles, my hiking staff,
hats and the video camera. By the time we made it to the fantail of
the boat to put on our life vests, I was beginning to wake up. Into
the pangas we piled, and thankfully Dominic was there to instruct us
about wet landings: Off with the boots and socks, up with the pant
legs, slide forward, throw your legs over the side of the panga and
get wet. By then I was definitely awake! I also realized that Jim
and I were by far the oldest participants on the boat. We may have
to work hard to keep up with this group!
The main reason for visiting Santa Fe
Island was to see the land iguanas. According to our guide, Ivan,
they are not plentiful, and we were fortunate to see five of them.
The beach had a fair complement of sea lions, which were
fascinating. Little did we know that soon it would become “old hat”
to have beaches covered with sea lions! Pelicans were fishing and a
breeze was blowing. Besides all that, I was standing on “terra
firma” so my queasiness was abating.
Back on board we had a two-hour steam
to make it to Santa Cruz where we will go ashore tomorrow morning.
Sitting in the lounge seemed to be the most comfortable for this
passage. After anchoring, there was dinner but I ate very little. We
were in bed by 9:30 that evening and I managed to sleep soundly
until 3:30 a.m. After that I dozed off and on until 5:30 a.m. when
we got up, got dressed and went up to the lounge for a cup of tea.
Oct. 4: Santa Cruz. Grateful
for the solid six hours of sleep I got, I watched the sun rise from
the fantail. Breakfast at 7 a.m. found me still drinking hot tea
instead of instant coffee. I adore good coffee, but instant does not
fall into that category.
At 8 a.m. the pangas took us into
town where we had a dry landing at the dock and walked the two miles
to the Charles Darwin Research Station. (http://www.darwinfoundation.org/
Our visit was most enlightening and
we saw Lonesome George, the huge tortoise that is the last of his
subspecies. Efforts have been made over the years to pair him with
similar species for breeding purposes but no progeny have resulted
so when he dies, his subspecies will be extinct. There is a very
active breeding program for those species that are still viable and
we saw various stages and ages of young tortoises, each with a
number painted on their back. Land iguanas from several islands were
also in breeding captivity at the research station. Once these
animals reach a certain age or size they are introduced back to the
wild. Of course, there were wonderful birds all around as well:
Galapagos Mockingbird, Small Ground Finch, Medium Ground Finch,
Yellow Warbler, Great Blue Heron and a Lava Heron.
After our visit we had an hour free
to walk back to the docks so people meandered along stopping at
various shops to buy what all tourists seem to buy – postcards and
T-shirts. Marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs entertained us as
we waited for the pangas.
Back on the boat, lunch was beef
stew, rice and salad with delicious watermelon for dessert. We were
given time for a short rest and then were back into the pangas and
back to the docks.
This afternoon we went by bus to an
area on the island call The Twins, which are two craters formed
thousands of years ago. We had hardly stepped off the bus when a
Vermillion Flycatcher appeared. He sat very still while myriads of
shutters snapped and Jim videoed. Later on our hike, we saw two
more. We were also entertained by Medium Ground Finches and
Galapagos Doves which have the most beautiful red legs!
The next part of the afternoon took
us to a lava tube which was very large. The path down into the tube
was rather precarious, and it was very dark so I decided to stay at
the entrance with several others while Ivan led the rest down into
After dinner, we enjoyed a cup of tea
and conversation with Karel and Froucke Nieuwenhais, who are from
the Netherlands. They are delightful and have planned a trekking
holiday on the Ecuadorian mainland after the Galapagos trip.
March 12, 2010 04:29 PM