Floreana Island – the boat ride

Feb 15, 2012

I got up really early on Wednesday morning (Feb 15) to head out to the tour I had booked the day before. Destination Floreana Island in search of penguins! Floreana is the shortest distance to travel to possibly see penguins. The other islands, Isabela, Santiago and Bartolome are all further either by land first and then boat, or just a longer boat ride. Being scared of getting sea sick, I decided to take the shortest route.

Just before 8am, I popped my gravol and put all kinds of positive thoughts through my head. Had a little chat with myself “You will not get sea sick. Think of other things. Concentrate on all the awesome adventures you’ve had. Think of your friends. Wonder what they are doing right now. Don’t get sea sick. Oh that was awful in St. Pierre when I was so horribly ill on the ferry. I don’t want that to happen again. Wait, supposed to be thinking positive here … Oh what a beautiful day!”

By 8:15 we were on the boat … crammed on the boat I might say. There were 16 of us on the tour, which was capacity for this boat, Mitzzy Juli. Our official guide that day was Marco. He spoke some English, but not a lot. Enough to get by but not really enough for me to understand all of the history that he was explaining.

As we headed out into the bay, one of the deck hands asked (and motioned) to see if I wanted to go somewhere. I thought that he was motioning to the small area inside, maybe because I had told Marco I was concerned about sea sickness. I said no because I’d much rather be in the fresh air than in an in-closed space. THEN as 2 or 3 other people headed to the edge of the boat and climbed up a ladder, I understood that he was asking if I wanted to go sit upstairs. Of course I wanted to sit upstairs! But, I had missed my chance. Upstairs was a small bench directly behind the captain of the boat, Raul. There was only room for 2-3 and now it was full. Boo me.

So, I sat and enjoyed the shade and fresh breeze from the water, not to mention the spectacular views as we bounced our way out to sea. The waters are warm and calm this time of year. Now, it is still open ocean, but overall, mostly a mildly rocky ride. Nothing like my horrendous experience on the ferry from St. Pierre & Miquelon!

The boat ride is about 1.5 hours. I couldn’t use my big camera on the boat as it makes me sea sick to look through it, so I took a few shots with my point and shoot.

View of Santa Cruz en route to Floreana Island
View of Santa Cruz en route to Floreana Island

After we got going, like a lot of people, I think the boat lulled me to sleep. It wasn’t a very good sleep as my head was bouncing around, but a little siesta none-the-less.

About 30 minutes from Floreana you could really begin to get a feel for the look and size of the island. It happens to also be the island that you see in the distance of this beautiful photo taken from Tortuga Bay.

view of Floreana Island from Tortuga Bay
view of Floreana Island from Tortuga Bay

Here it is closer up.

Floreana Island, Galapagos
Floreana Island, Galapagos

On arrival at Floreana our boat couldn’t go all the way in, so they tied it off to a floating thing a short distance from shore. The floating thing also had three sea lions (lobo marino) basking in the hot hot hot sun.

Sea Lions, Floreana Island
Sea Lions, Floreana Island

The Captain whistled loudly and a water taxi headed our way. This is standard in Galapagos. There are water taxis everywhere and you (or your captain) just whistle loudly to get their attention then they’ll come get you.

The water taxi pulled up along side our boat and we piled out single file. This is easy enough for me, but several passengers who were older or who had mobility issues had a really hard time transferring from one boat to the other. The waves would rock the boats … sometimes bringing them closer, sometimes separating them. No question it is dangerous, but I honestly doubt there are many accidents. The guides and deck hands are there to tell you when to step and hold your hand.

Once at the dock, we climbed off the water taxi on to a stair case having the same issues as before with the boat rocking to and from the dock. I’ve done this quite a few times and I feel that I’m pretty aware overall, so it didn’t bother me, but a few people were really scared.

We all got to land safely and headed out for our next little adventure … the highlands.

Floreana Island – highlands

Feb 15, 2012

And the adventure continues. Never a dull moment in my travel adventures! You will all enjoy my misfortune I’m sure!

There is a small town on the island called Puerto Velasco Ibarra. I guess it would really be a village.

Floreana Island, Puerto Velasco Ibarra
Floreana Island, Puerto Velasco Ibarra

We had a bathroom stop where it was actually my first public bathroom experience! Until this point I had managed to always go to my hotel which was lucky. It probably also has some thing to do with the incredible heat. I know that I’m dehydrated. I take water everywhere with me, but I could use about 10 bottles a day here.

So, the public bathroom (bano) wasn’t so great. The toilet wouldn’t flush, everyone had been squatting so there was pee all over the seat …. No toilet paper, no soap and no running water. Well, I had expected this at some point, so I wasn’t overly surprised. Some of the women were upset though. If you are traveling to South America … pack your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer! Don’t go anywhere without it! I sure was glad to have mine!

With that experience out of the way, I hope on board our open air truck to head up up up to the highlands. The open air truck is a cab and then on the back there is a separate covered area with benches under it. The sides are open and it’s quite a step to hop on it!

Transportation on Floreana Island
Transportation on Floreana Island

I met a lot of our group because many of us spoke English. Lynn and Melanie were from Washington State, Kate was from Minnesota, Sven was from Switzerland and another guy was from London – can’t recall his name though. We had some great chats about travel, the world and US politics. Lots of people traveling on their own and everyone is really friendly. Always happy to share a story or a tip about somewhere they’ve been that you may be going to.

It was probably about a 10 minute ride on the truck up the hill to where we would first stop. About 2 minutes away from the ocean it started to rain (no surprise) It seemed as though we were getting close, so I dug out my rain jacket. I love this jacket sooooo much! I bought it at MEC, it has a longer back part to keep your bum dry, it is light, has a hood and if you fold it properly it rolls right up into its own hood. Great for packing it into a day pack!

I set the jacket on my knee as I got my camera ready. We hit a few bumps and then Uht oh! Bump. The rain jacket fell right off the side of the truck. All of the English folks were yelling to the driver to stop. The Chinese folks at the front of the benches were pounding on the back of the truck, but to no avail. I guess it must have been loud in there and they couldn’t hear us. Glad that it was something, not someone who fell off the truck!

About a km after I lost my rain jacket, we stopped at our walking trail. The truck driver spoke very good English and he said he would go back and look for my jacket. Very nice of him!

So, in the pouring rain I headed with the group through the woods with my camera around my neck and partially covered by my t-shirt and my day pack on my back with another lens and all kinds of other things. I had planned to cover the day pack up with my rain jacket, but that wasn’t going to happen now! Once again, no use crying over spilled milk … just went on my way and tried not to worry about it too much.

Our first stop was to see some turtles roaming free. My understanding is that Floreana has no turtles directly from this island anymore. These turtles have been brought here to study and then be re-introduced to their own islands. We could get really close to them here, but it was really pouring so we didn’t stay for long.

At this point we were all soaking wet … well, except for the Chinese couple, Sven from Switzerland and the gentleman from London – they had umbrellas.

I don’t think I’ll ever travel in rainy season again without one (or two) umbrellas. Rainy season is rainy of course, but it is also incredibly hot. People have umbrellas all the time to shade themselves from the sun. In Nova Scotia we don’t think about this. I just laughed out loud at that. If we see the sun in Nova Scotia we certainly don’t want to be shaded from it!

We continued on our walking tour and stopped at some pirate ruins and labrynths. It was really interesting, but I didn’t get all of the history. The photo below shows a carving. I think they said that it was a monument to one of the pirate’s dogs. I’ll have to see if I can find something on the internet about it.

Pirate Monument Floreana Island
Pirate Monument Floreana Island

When I took my camera out, I was devastated to see ERR 20 – CANNOT TAKE PHOTOS RIGHT NOW.

The other part of the history that I remember that was really interesting was told to us when we got to an area where the town’s water is filtered. Let me tell you though, I don’t know why they call it ‘filtering’ … It is basically just rain water directed down through some rocks, on to a small tin like plate and then dropped into buckets.

Because this Is the only water supply for the entire island, this is one of the reasons that the population hasn’t grown.

The other reason is that there have been 15 mysterious disappearances of people. No one knows where they went or how they died. They just disappeared. Originally they thought that Maria (a German) who was here with the pirates might be responsible for the deaths. After starting an investigation though, her son also disappeared and they dropped the investigation. Please remember this is very loosely translated!

We headed back down toward the ocean and had lunch at a restaurant. Honestly, it is more of a home that acts as a restaurant with 3 or 4 large tables and chairs. Lunch was lovely, including a banana with red syrop for dessert. Then we walked back to the dock to catch a water taxi to our boat.

The water had gotten rougher in those last couple of hours and climbing on to the water taxi proved to be quite difficult for several of the travelers. We were on a stone staircase with the bow of the boat pointing straight at us and the waves hitting the boat from the left side. When a large wave came, it would push the boat away from the stairs and the driver would have to come back again. If you happened to be in mid step when a wave hit, you were in trouble. So, it was really important to watch for waves as you prepared to step on the boat. Thankfully we all made it safely, but there were a couple of close calls with people who had mobility issues. Then we had to repeat this again to get from the water taxi to our boat.

There are always one or two guides or decks hands to help you on and off the boat. They are used to these conditions, have great balance and when they offer you their hand, you should just take it.

I wasn’t really scared at any point as I’ve done these boat transfers before, but I do remind myself that the staff are there to help us and to keep us safe. I know if it is not safe, they’ll find another way.

Floreana Island – Snorkeling

Feb 15, 2012

Our next stop on the Floreana tour was snorkeling in a little inlet. I was sitting up top with the Captain, Raul and he pointed out the blue footed boobys on the rocks. If we were going to see penguins, this was the place.

I could hardly wait to get it the water here. Once the boat was stopped and secured, I was down the ladder and asking ‘can I get in now? I’m excited!’ So, I was the first one in the water, off snorkeling away. At first, nothing to interesting as the water was too deep. Once I headed toward the rocks though I started to see some fish. Then I went back to the boat and asked if it was ok to swim over to the rocks where the blue footed boody’s were. I grabbed a lifejacket as it was a bit of a swim and I was on my way! I got over fairly close to the rocks and got a good look at a few birds, but unfortunately not close enough for great photos.

Blue footed booby Floreana Island
Blue footed booby Floreana Island

On my way back to the boat, Sven from Switzerland asked if I had seen the penguins … I hadn’t, but I didn’t have time to swim over to where they were. Instead, I kept snorkeling and directly below me was a sting ray!

Sting ray Floreana Island
Sting ray Floreana Island

I followed the ray for a while, pointing it out to a few others in my tour and then made my way back to the boat. Something about swimming with wild sting rays makes me want to get out of the water. They are far below you, on the bottom, but I don’t like the thought that I might piss one off and his barb would go right through me!

Once we were all back on the boat, Captain Raul navigated us in closer so that we could have a better look at the penguins. There were four or five of them. Cute little things. Unfortunately not close enough for pictures … well, not with the point and shoot camera and as you know from previous posts my Canon 5D MK II had called it quits while in the highlands.

Floreana Island – Dolphins

Feb 15, 2012

After leaving the penguins behind, I stayed on the upper deck with Raul. I figured since the seas had gotten rougher that I would have a better chance at not being sick if I was in the fresh air, looking forward.

After awhile, deck hand Richard came up and sat with us as well. I attempted conversation with the two of them, but it wasn’t the greatest as neither of them spoke English and my Spanish is still only in single words, not sentences. Of course, I was able to ask their names, as well as show them pictures from my trip so far on my Lumix Waterproof camera. Richard knew Armando (my snorkeling with the sea lions guy). We were able to chat briefly about a few things and they taught me a few new Spanish words.

Richard on the boat
Richard on the boat

After about an hour, Raul all of a sudden said ‘Dolphins!’. Richard immediately grabbed my hand to get me to come with him. He took me down the steep ladder off the top of the boat and directly to the very front tip of the boat where he told me to sit with my feet over the edge. All of this through hand motions and Spanish.

The next thing I knew there were three dolphins racing with the boat, DIRECTLY beneath my feet. My feet were about 2-3 feet from the water and the dolphins were less than a foot under the water. When Raul would slow the boat down, the dolphins would slow down … if he sped up as fast as he could go, the dolphins sped up right along with us.

Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands
Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands
Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands
Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands

Besides the two or three that were swimming directly under the boat, there were half a dozen more doing tricks, jumping and doing displays in the water.

Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands
Dolphins in the Galapagos Islands

The next thing I knew, one of the dolphins came up for air, spraying me and completely covering me. Richard was lying down on the other side of the boat on his stomach and was getting sprayed in the face too. I’m sure he’s seen a display of dolphins like this a million times, but I think he enjoyed it a little extra that day because I was so excited.

Up until this point I think I was strickly in awe of the beauty. Once I was covered in dolphin spray I shed one little tear. I was overwhelmed with the beauty around me. Overwhelmed and thankful for having this opportunity. And, believe it or not, I was glad that my camera was broken so that I didn’t have the urge to take it out and photograph this. Dolphins are very hard to photograph as they move so quickly and I would have wasted precious time trying to capture them instead of taking in the whole amazing scene.

It was an absolutely beautiful moment meant just for me … no work, no worries, just pure beautiful enjoyment. It was at this time that I knew I was in love with the Galapagos Islands that no question, I would be returning.

We must have stayed and ‘played’ with the dolphins for about 30 minutes and I enjoyed every single second. I don’t believe I’ve been this happy in a long long time. It is such a wonderful feeling to be in the open sea air and be so close to nature. Dolphins are so curious and playful. I really just wanted to jump in with them, but I didn’t think Captain Raul would let me do that! Although looking back, maybe I should have asked!

I honestly can’t explain my feelings of that day other than feeling beauty rush through my body and a healthy energy rush through my veins. I feel like that one day simply changed my way of thinking. Somehow, weirdly and ‘hippy-like’ I felt connected to nature. It was a moment when I could feel all of my stress just leave my body and I felt completely rejuvenated.

Photo Enthusiasts tour – where to next?

Just in case you don’t already know, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Galapagos. It is beautiful here. Absolutely stunning. The history is amazing, the animals are fantastic, the people are friendly. Everything is so lush and colorful.

I knew while I was away on this trip that I would be thinking about my NEXT trip. I had originally been considering another Peru Through the Lens trip as I would be familiar with the itinerary. Now though, I’m thinking about leading a Galapagos trip.

I know there are a lot of people out there reading my blog (amazingly about 250 hits a day right now) WOW!
Photo enthusiasts – meaning anyone with a digital SLR camera who loves photography – Can you please leave me a comment if you would be interested in a photo trip to the Galapagos? or to Peru? or, suggestions on where else you would be interested in.

These trips are going to be pricey. It is not cheap to get here or to do a tour.
Peru Through the lens this time around was $2485 + flights (about $1000-$1500, or use your avion or aeroplan points!)
Galapagos would be more expensive as it is expensive to visit the islands to begin with.

I would like to start keeping track of names of people interested in a photo tour.

I would also consider teaching official photography lessons while I’m here or before we leave Canada. So if you are really a beginner, you could learn and then practice in the Galapagos

Thoughts? Feedback? Please talk to me!

Tortuga Bay Beach, Puerto Ayora
Tortuga Bay Beach, Puerto Ayora

Land Iguana, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
Land Iguana, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora

Review – Hotel Crossman – Santa Cruz Island

Hotel Crossman, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
Hotel Crossman, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

I booked my travel with a company called Bamba Experience who in turn booked my hotel reservations for me based on price and ‘comfort’ level desired. I decided to go on the cheap side as The Galapagos is already an expensive destination.

I believe that Hotel Crossman is listed as a 3 star hotel and I would say that is pretty accurate.

The staff have been wonderful. Very friendly and helpful. With all of the confusion in my first couple of days, they did their best to help sort everything out.

As for the hotel itself, my first impression of the room was that it was lovely. It is large enough for a double bed and a single, has an open closet and a few hangers for clothes and a private bathroom. I noticed immediately that they use white sheets and no bedspreads which makes me at least feel like it is a clean hotel rather than bedspreads that never get washed.

There are four large windows in the room and the breeze is beautiful when it’s not raining!

The tile floors get a little slippery if you come in from the rain with your shoes on, but not much can be done about that.

The bathroom is sufficient. It is clean, has everything you need including shampoo and the stand up shower is a decent size.

There is a tv (which I haven’t turned on once) and an air conditioner (which runs constantly if I’m in my room).

They have free wifi internet and it works pretty good most of the time. Sometimes the signal isn’t strong enough to carry skype conversations, but overall, I can’t complain.

They don’t have safes in the rooms, or at the hotel at all as far as I understand. This means that I’ve had to leave money and other valuables in my room when I’m out. I haven’t had any trouble at all with this though. Nothing has gone missing and the room is always nice and tidy when I return from my day’s activities.

My only complaints are:
– There is no hot water, so cold showers every day. However, I’ve come to find out that other hotels are the same. Not sure if more expensive hotels would be different, but it seems pretty standard to not have hot water here.
– Sometimes the bathroom smells. When it happens, it is pretty gross, but it goes away quickly. Not sure of the cause. Not sure if it is the water that smells or if it is wafting up through the shower drain.
– When it rains (which is nearly every day this time of year), I have a leak from the ceiling. It drips from my ceiling light fixture to the floor, conveniently right between the two beds, missing both of them!

The first night that I was here it leaked a lot, so I went and got one of the staff to come upstairs and see. There was no way I was going to try to explain a leak! She quickly got some old rag towels and put them on the floor to soak up the mess. I left the there for the night as it continued to drip. Unfortunately it has happened every day, but I can’t be bothered to go get rags every day, so I just step over the puddle on the floor and make sure none of my electronics are near it.

The breakfast that they have each morning has been good. Scrambled eggs, a bun with jam, fresh squeezed fruit juice, a piece of processed meat and cheese. They also have tea, coffee and this morning there was cocoa for hot chocolate as well! They are not a restaurant though, they are only set up to provide breakfast to their own guests.

One of my favorite parts about this hotel is the terrace or veranda. Right outside my second floor room there is a little sitting area with patio furniture and a little table. The first day I was here, I sat out there for a couple of hours while I did my blogging. It poured and I could listen to it, but not get wet. The fresh breeze was amazing!

I haven’t taken any pictures of the veranda yet, but if I get a chance tomorrow or Thursday before I leave, I will! They have a couple of other common areas as well that are more enclosed. Would be a lovely spot for group meetings if you were traveling with friends, or if your group tour had more than just one person!

Overall, I would say that this hotel fits a 3 star rating. It is comfortable and clean, but doesn’t have the luxuries of home that I am used to (like hot water). If I were to come back, I would be happy to stay here again.

Galapagos Sunset

Feb 14, 2012

I’ve already done my little pitty party about being alone on Valentine’s day, but I tried to make the best of it. I headed out this evening around 5pm to the waterfront to shoot a few photos of the setting sun.

Here, near the equator, the sun sets very quickly. It isn’t dusk for long in these parts at all. In fact, last night in the 15 minutes it took me to shower, the sun had already set and gone away completely so I missed it all together. Shame on me!

Tonight I didn’t want to make the same mistake. I got a few nice shots, but nothing spectacular. For one, the sunset wasn’t ‘the best’ and two, I wasn’t really at an ideal location for viewing it. Tomorrow I think I’ll be coming back by boat around sunset time, so hopefully I’ll have another opportunity!

Here’s a couple of quick photos though.

Sunset at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
Sunset at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
Sunset at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
Sunset at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

Valentine’s Day at the Beach

Feb 14, 2012

One of the bad things about traveling alone on Valentine’s Day is that many other people are traveling in couples. I saw lots of couples walking, holding hands, kissing, having romantic dinners today and I was all alone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, just stating that Valentine’s Day in paradise isn’t really so perfect without your special someone. booo hooo.

Now my little pitty party is over and I’ll move on. After all, it is only a day where people spend lots of money on the one they love when they should be showing they care all along!

Ok, now I’ll move on 🙂

After my early morning breakfast, I headed to Charles Darwin Street in Puerto Ayora. It’s about a five minute walk from my hotel. Unfortunately, at 8:30am, I was already too late for all of the boat tours except for the Bay tour that I had done the day before. I talked to the guide about other options and discovered that I have seen most of what Santa Cruz island has to offer. He made several suggestions for tours, but they were things that I had already done on the way in from the airport on my first day. In the end, he suggested I head to Tortuga Bay which is a beautiful beach within walking distance.

It is named Tortuga bay as it is an area where turtles come to lay their eggs. Unfortunately I didn’t see any turtles here today. They usually only come in to land at night for laying eggs.

The tour operator, along with several other people told me that it was about a 30 – 40 minute walk to get to the beach. This is technically correct … from the starting point of the park. I walked through town and up a really huge hill to get to the park entrance. Did I mention that at 9am the sun is already at it’s hottest for the day? A huge hill, no shade … 2 kms of walking already!

I also made a quick stop along the way to rent snorkel gear from a really nice hotel – Sante Fe Suites. They wanted me to leave ID in order to take snorkel gear. All I had with me was my visa, so I left it. I wouldn’t have done this with just any business, but this particular place was very nice and appeared reputable, not sketchy.

Sante Fe Suites Santa Cruz Island
Sante Fe Suites Santa Cruz Island

At the entrance to the park, you stop at a reception area and sign in. They check each night to make sure that everyone has left the park as it closes at 6pm. The man there told me this is because the turtles come in at night to lay their eggs.

From the entrance, you walk along a lovely path. It is sturdy walking as it is made of some kind of brick or cobbelstone. Easy, except for the sizzling heat and the hills!

Path to Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
Path to Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora

The walk took me at least 40 minutes, maybe even 45. I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone who is elderly or has mobility issues. Or maybe just not at 9am when the sun is at it’s hottest!

When I finally got to the end of the path, the trees opened up on to a vast beach, beautiful teal waters and islands in the distance. It stopped me in my tracks and I’m pretty sure I murmured ‘WOW’ to myself. Who else am I going to say it to?

Tortuga Bay Beach, Puerto Ayora
Tortuga Bay Beach, Puerto Ayora

So, this is where I spent Valentine’s Day morning! If I’m going to be alone on Valentine’s Day, I might as well be somewhere beautiful! Paradise isn’t quite the same without someone special to share it with though. None-the-less beautiful!

After marvelling in the beauty of the beach for a few minutes, I began to focus on black ‘rocks’ strewn about the beach. Oh wait … those aren’t rocks … they move! They’re land iguanas. They are absolutely everywhere you look. They are walking beside you, in front of you, on the rocks, in the shallow water cooling off and hiding in the shade of the mangroves.

land iguana, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
land iguana, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora

You can get to within about a meter of them before they start to get skittish. And it really depends on which one. Some of them I was able to get close too. Some of them I looked at once and backed off! They are mean looking creatures aren’t they? They look like small dinosaurs. It is absolutely incredible how colorful and textured they are. And those spiky things down their backs are awesome!

Once I had walked around a bit and taken some photos, I found a bench under the shade of a mangrove and plunked myself down. I set my camera down and dug out my bottle of water. When I turned to dig in my backpack I realized there was a big iguana only about three feet from me. He was snoozing in the shade and didn’t seem concerned with me at all. I rested a bit and then snapped a few photos of him and the birds that were coming and going. Earlier when I was taking photos, I had thought it would be nice to be able to get closer to the iguanas without them running away, but every time I carefully inched closer, they would take off. This guy, however was just enjoying the shade … as was I!

After about 10 minutes of rest in the shade, I noticed the iguana yawn and lick his lips. I put my camera up hoping he would do it again and that I could catch it. Next thing I knew, he turned directly toward me and paused. Snap, snap, snap and I got this …

Land Iguana, Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Land Iguana, Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands

Then he came for me, I swear he did! They don’t move all that fast, but when they are only three feet away and head straight for you, it seems like they are lightening fast! I don’t seriously think he was licking his lips and thinking about snacking on me. I think I was just sitting in the direction that he wanted to go. Regardless, it didn’t take me long to get out of his way!

Another great thing about this beach is it’s pelicans. It is hard to imagine just how large they are until you are somewhat close to them. They stand about 3 feet tall and their wing span must be close to double that. I enjoyed watching this one dive for it’s food, swallow an then take off and dive for the next delicious sushi meal! Check out the wing span.

Pelican, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
Pelican, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora

Off to the side, on the rocks was another bird. I’m not sure if it was a pelican or not. He looked particularly large and had an orange beak. The other pelican’s didn’t, so not really sure what this one is. Something about him reminds me of an old man though.

Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands

After walking 5-7 kms and taking all of these pictures I was hot! You quickly have to get used to being soaked all of the time here. If you aren’t drenched in sweat from walking, you are drenched in the almost daily afternoon rains. Quite honestly though, the rains are nice and refreshing. No one seems to hide from the rain here like we do at home. Everyone goes about their business as usual and lots of people are just out walking around or kids playing in it.

I took a few minutes to drop my things off in the shade of a mangrove tree and then I headed to the water of the second beach … the ‘bay’ of Tortuga Bay. You aren’t allowed to swim at the first beach because of strong currents, so they recommend swimming in the bay. I was disappointed that the water wasn’t colder. I was hot and it wasn’t nearly cold enough to bring my temperature down! The water was also slightly murky, not clear like the waters I was swimming in yesterday. So, I didn’t even use the snorkeling gear that I had paid $3 to rent at a lovely hotel along the way!

Once I was out of the water I could see that rain was coming, so I decided to pack up and start on my way back as it would be another 40-60 minutes for me to get back out of the park on foot.

When I say that you could see the rain coming, I really mean it. You look up in the sky, off in the distance and there are huge black clouds sticking together. Then you can see separate streams of rain coming from those clouds. The photo I captured was earlier in the day, so you can’t actually see the rain, but it’ll give you a good idea of the foreboding sky that I was rushing to avoid!

Rain clouds at Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
Rain clouds at Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora

You can also see a red line in this photo. It is a string that is up for nearly the full length of the beach reminding people not to go into the vegetation because it is pelican nesting grounds.

I’ll leave you with a couple more photos from the day. Along with all of these other great things I’ve talked about, there is a huge abundance of different birds here. I’m not a bird watcher per se, but put me in paradise with a bird in front of me and I’ll probably take it’s picture. Here are a few dainty little birds.

Bird at Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands
Bird at Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands

Bay Tour

Feb 13, 2012

This morning I had the pleasure of being part of a bay tour with Chamacuss Tours. The main guide was Edilberto and then Armando was the man driving the boat. There were about 10 of us on the tour from all around the world including: Argentina, Italy and US. Most of the tourists spoke fluent Spanish, but a couple of us were mainly English. Thankfully our guide was fluent in both and did a fantastic job telling us everything in both languages. He also seemed to have a lot of fun on the tour, joking and laughing with us. Not to mention that he sure seemed to have a lot of pep in his step for a 60+ year old man. I could barely keep up with him on our last hike of the day. Mind you, it was probably close to 35 degrees out too an I’m really not used to that!

Here are a couple of photos of the view from the dock and a view of the island with rain clouds once we were out in the boat. Isn’t it beautiful?!

View of Puerto Ayora bay, Santa Cruz Island
View of Puerto Ayora bay, Santa Cruz Island
View of Puerto Ayora bay, Santa Cruz Island
View of Puerto Ayora bay, Santa Cruz Island

The tour started out with a 10-15 minute boat ride to a spot where we went snorkelling with the seals. I’d say we must have had about 45 minutes worth of time here. Not everyone went snorkelling. A few elderly people or those with mobility challenges stayed on the boat. Boys, did they miss out!

Shari snorkelling with the seals in the Galapagos Islands
Shari snorkelling with the seals in the Galapagos Islands

After our unbelievable experience snorkelling with the seals, we headed to Playa de los Perros (Dog Beach).

Cactus on Playa de los Perros
Cactus on Playa de los Perros
Cactus on Playa de los Perros
Cactus on Playa de los Perros

We had a short visit, including a 10 minute walk where we saw a beautiful area where sharks come to rest during the day and to warm up if the regular water is too cold. Unfortunately, there were no sharks in while we were there today.

The crew gave us snacks of packaged Ritz crackers and cheese and pop. After snack time, we headed off to Las Grietas where we went for a grueling 15 minute walk. The sun was incredibly hot. There is very little shade along the way and the path is rough, but flat. Hiking for 15 minutes in that sun was certainly a challenge. However, when I saw the lagoon at the end of the trail where we could go snorkelling, I couldn’t wait!

Swimming at Las Grietas
Swimming at Las Grietas

I actually didn’t even snorkel here, just swam the length and came back. That gave me a bit of extra time to get organized and take photos before everyone had to come out of the water.

We saw the beach on the way out by foot. It was beautiful too!

beach on Santa Cruz Island
beach on Santa Cruz Island

My first health ‘issue’

Feb 13, 2012

I had a super fantastic day. I loved this day and I will hug it and keep it close forever in pictures. It was incredibly hot with lots of walking, swimming in a couple of different spots and visiting the Charles Darwin Station.

When I returned to Hotel Crossman at around 4pm today, I noticed that there was a small rash on the left side of my face. Just a few little pimple like things, but I don’t normally get acne, so I thought it was odd. Not too long after I was checking it out again and noticed that between my eyebrows had the same sort of rash. At that time I also noticed some blotchiness on my forehead.

I decided to take a shower and wash my face, but that didn’t seem to help. Oh, and have I mentioned yet that I don’t have any hot water? Cold shower every day. Nothing like that to get you movin’!

I’ve been feeling fine all day, other than the sizzling heat! I’m assuming it probably has something to do with too much sun and not enough water. Mistake of many tourists near the equator I’m sure! I did however wear SPF 50 and apply it three times. I also wore my t-shirt most of the time and a ball cap! It is apparent now though that even all of this doesn’t combat the powerful sun! I’ve been putting lotion on the burned areas and drinking lots of water.

Rash
Rash

Six hours after I first noticed the rash, it has gotten worse on my face and has started to spread to my neck and chest. There’s no point fighting it any more … I took a couple of Benadryl hoping that it’ll stop it in its tracks. Now, if it is heat related, I don’t think that’s going to help. But, if it is an allergic reaction to something, hopefully it’ll clear it up.

I’m feeling well for the most part, other than the few missed spots that got burned today. I’ve loaded up on water now as well so hopefully I shouldn’t be dehydrated.

If the rash doesn’t clear up, or I start having other symptoms, I’ll look into finding someone to have a look at it. I suspect it’ll be gone tomorrow though. I’ll keep you all posted on my blotchiness.