Today we had a bit of an urban fix on San Cristobal, in the small town of 7,000 Puerto Baquerizo. It is the capital of the Galapagos. Because the politicians, such as they are, are gathered here, the roads are in better repair and there is more going on here than its small size would suggest. This is the town where we left on our Galapagos sail twenty years ago and many boat tours still originate here. Tour operators in town sell extra seats on the tourists boats for a bargain price, a good deal for those who have time to wait for a deal.
At the Interpretation Center we learned a bit about the human history of the islands. Many people came here to make their fortune over the years, but few succeeded. About 2,000 Norwegians came over with pre-fab homes to a spot advertised to them as sunny and tropical. Most of them didn’t last a year. Prisoners from the mainland were sent here to do their time. Some worked as virtual slaves on small sugar plantations. They didn’t last long either. Its’s hard to make a go of it, when you are so isolated from the rest of the world in those pre-internet days.
We stopped at a cafe and tried to do a bit of internet ourselves. It was robust enough to download email, but I couldn’t upload one photograph to this blog. Our crew members are all on their cell phones: starved for news and information just like we are after a few days off of the grid.
In the afternoon we motored to Cerro Brujo, one of the nicest beaches in the Galapagos according to our guide book. The sand felt like powdered sugar and the beach was much longer than we had time to walk. The water is a vivid aquamarine, much like we have loved in the Caribbean. Every so often we came upon a few sea lions who were also enjoying the sand and sunshine. Aa always they didn’t seem to give a hoot how close we got to them, but we always give them a wide berth just in case.
There are many scenic rock formations around here, remnants from an explosive time. There are many volcanoes in the Galapagos Island chain that are still erupting regularly and building Isabella, the biggest island so far (during this millennia). Needless to say, we are going nowhere near those.
After boarding the mother ship we sailed slowly around Kicker Rock sipping a local rum specialty as the setting rays of the sun shone on its rough and jagged sides. The local name of this formation means sleeping lion, because of its shape. It is an imposing, vertical, sheer-walled tuff cone that has been eroded in half. Last time we were here our boat was allowed sail through the space between the two sides of the formation. Today it’s no longer allowed; someone slightly too large must have tried to sail through and gotten stuck on the sides. As we sailed we were followed for hours by frigate birds, who soared on the currents we generated and barely moved a muscle. We continue to be amazed at how comfortable the birds are around us. They allow us to come much closer than you ever come in the real world and sometimes initiate the contact.