Wednesday, Feb. 6
We were up at 5, packed, had breakfast and on the bus for the airport at 6 am. We were issued boarding passes and mine said 11 k. which I thought was strange. Perhaps it's a very large plane? Nope. My seat didn't exist. There were 3 of us in the same position. Interesting. So we waited at the back of the plane till everyone was seated and found an empty one. At Guayaquil some got off and I parked myself in an emergency exit seat. It was worth a try. No such luck. I was ousted again. This time the stewardess had a list and I found my name for her as Jodea DeJong does not translate well into Spanish. Yet another flight with a new adventure. Oh I am sooo lucky! Lol
The Galapagos is an hour behind so we gained and landed on Baltra at 10 am, transferred to a shuttle, then got on a ferry to Santa Cruz. While waiting for the luggage to arrive on a different boat we found lots of crabs and birds to photograph, We boarded a bus and watched the vegetation change from cactus and scrub to more lush greenery. The first stop was a view of a couple of collapsed volcanoes which left big craters and our guide, Jorge, explained some of the Flora and fauna.
We were reminded of the number one rule in the Galapagos; maintain at least a 2 metre distance from all wildlife as we stopped at a farm where Santa Cruz tortoises are known to frequent. Apparently they're fond of the vegetation there. They're certainly easy to spot. While admiring the several giants we found, Jorge suddenly stopped and said he thought he heard turtles mating. I thought he was joking. We heard something that sounded like a cow in heat and walked towards it joking that we were on our way to see the famous Santa Cruz cow. The sound got louder and there it was in the bush. A giant tortoise on top of another, doing the mating dance....very slowly and making this strange, cow like grunting sound. Apparently it can take 3-4 hours! Jorge explained more about this tortoise and we had some free time to play with an empty tortoise shell and socialize.
A few minutes farther down the road we disembarked again and toured an old lava tube. Some went the whole way which involved crawling on your hands and knees through mud. I may be adventurous but there are limits.
Upon arrival on the South shore of Santa Cruz, we oohed and aahed over the seals lounging on the dock right in town and pretty crabs climbing all over the rocks, then climbed into pangas and were transferred to the “Daphne”. Our room is tiny with barely room for the two of us at the same time. Good thing we won't be spending much time there. The rest of the boat is very nice. There's a dining area, comfortable lounge for briefings, a sun deck and back deck where the smokers can hang out.
We had a briefing about life aboard, lunch, quickly changed into cooler clothes as it's very hot and then headed back to shore to visit the Charles Darwin research centre. There we learned about the efforts to preserve the different species of giant tortoise. Each Island has it's own. Naturalists find the nests and bring the eggs to the centre where they're incubated till hatching and the tortoises are kept until they're bigger than their predators so they have a better chance at survival. They do similar things with the various species of iguana.
We wandered about town for a bit then headed back to the boat where we ran for the shower. The bathroom may be tiny but the shower sure is nice. Back upstairs we were briefed on the next day's activities, went through emergency procedures, met the crew and sat down for dinner which was delicious. There are 16 of us including Americans, Danish, Swedes, Brits, German, Aussies and several Canadians. We're all exhausted and are hoping to sleep through the movement of the ship as it sails from midnight to 4 am to Floreana. Tonight is a test and if we don't do well, tomorrow night we can take a sea sick pill :)