I cannot believe I am in the Galapagos!! Can you? Match day came and went and as fast as you can say Charles Darwin, I was on a plane to Guayaquil. I landed late Saturday night where Jon was waiting in the lobby with a handcrafted Dr. Geier sign he had colored at the hostel. Poor guy must have been a wee bit bored. We taxied to the Hostel, which was a tad steamy, but had miniature monkeys and turtles and parrots in the lobby. Up early the next am for our flight to the Galapagos. Proof....
The arrival! Jon enhanced these photos and they are seriously amazing. You get the non enhanced version because it took me about an hour to load them! There were rainbows galore as we flew through the clouds to the little airport on Santa Cruz. yes. I flew through rainbows to land in the Galapagos. Heaven on earth
We landed, bought our admission which goes to the national park funds, and boated/taxied to our hotel. It is a very nice hostel/hotel, with air conditioning, private bathroom and a dvd player What more could you want. BTW a fantastic thing about Central/South America is that you can buy pirated DVDs for about $1.50. Not that I've done that...
First things first, good eats! We were advised by a local to stop by this ceviche shop. It was run by an old man next door, who served his creation with SA ketchup and banana chips. Throwing caution to the wind we devoured this delicious ceviche. The travel doc was pretty adamant about her eating recommendations. Nothing raw, nothing on the street, nothing you can't peel...thanks. Advice taken and promptly discarded.
Bellies full it was time to wander about town. Sea lions are everywhere. The small ones are calm, and mostly sleep, itch themselves and do sea lion yoga. Large lions however, grunt and hiss at you should you approach their "territory". Such strange animals. Sort of like slightly more agile manatees on land, but flipping twisting wonderful creatures in the water.
Our rather aimless wandering brought us to the Charles Darwin Center. We began our hike up to see the Tortugas and were immediatly struck by how many gecko/unidentified lizard species there are! These red necked guys are my favorite.
This brought us to the Tortugas! We were able to hijack a cruise ship tour, thrifty!! The turtles were thought to have floated over to the Galapogos on pieces of vegetation that broke off from the land. They are able to survive for months without food or water. This is why no land mammals are found on the Galapagos. Depending on the elevation and vegetation of the island, the tortugas developed different shells. They became giant because they found ample food, with virtually no predators. The islands with lush vegitation created low and extremely large turltes. Islands with less ground cover cause turtles to develop the saddle back and longer legs, so there were able to stick their neck up and eat higher up.
They apparently store much fluid in their pericardium, and therefore were taken by pirates and whalers. The sailors would ravage the tortise population for fluids, and also would take them aboard because they needed no food/water, but provided meat, fluid and oil to the sailors. Therefore the tortuga population became depleted. In fact at one point a single turtle was left on one of the norther islands, lonesome George, and when he was discovered he was brought to Santa Cruze to the Darwin center for safe keeping. Since they have been trying to breed with various females, but have not been successful. Turtles live for 150 years and are most sexually active from about 80-100 years old.
The Darwin Center has a section for males, females and babies. The babies are kept there for about 5 years, until their shells harden. At that point, they have virtually no predators and may be released to the low lands. It takes them about 25 years to make their way up to lusher surroundings.
After visiting the turtles we stopped at a rocky beach that was literally crawling with crabs.
Stopped for a pisco sour (left) on the way home. We sipped on the dock with marine iguanas and sea lions.
The center of town boasts and impressive street of kiosks that open after about 7pm. They serve mainly rice and meat or rice and seafood dishes. Here was encocado de camaron. A delicious shrimp dish in creamy coconut sauce. Holy yum. If you eat on the street, they use virutally no gluten. However, in restuarants we have run across a few sauce problems, soy sauce, teriyaki etc.
Jon, contemplating our next move...er, next culinary delight!
Hasta luego, stay tuned. Next up includes tortuga bay, floreana and scuba (seriously!, my chicken butt scuba-ed).