Jul 28, 2009

Galapagos: Part 2

We settled into life on the yacht pretty quickly. For eight days we followed a nice little routine. Breakfast of excessively crunchy white toast, cheese, baloney, some kind of egg (one day this was replaced with hotdogs in pink sauce), melon, and cereal with yogurt at 7am. Then we piled into the dingy and were jetted off to an island for a walk and usually a snorkel. Back to the boat for some lounging time, then lunch around 1pm, while we cruised to another location. Afternoons were more walks or beach time, or possibly another snorkel. Dinner at 7pm, right around the time it got dark. Then the evenings were ours to waste as we saw fit. Usually this meant attempting to play cards on the windy top deck, an exercise in frustration if ever there was one.

On our eight day cruise I think we visited nine or ten islands. What is amazing is how different they all are from one another. Some look like a typical Caribbean resort area with sandy beaches and calm turquoise water. Some with high black cliffs and fearsome waves crashing onto a jagged shore. Some are dark red sand and lots of scraggly bushlands. One felt like we were walking on the moon (not that I know from experience or anything...), mostly barren with grey and black slabs of lava rock as far as you can see. Some covered with incense trees, (Because they smell like incense. Or, as Nathan calls them, Galapagos Salami Trees, because he thinks they smell like salami.) a tree with white bark and no leaves at this time of year. These islands looked haunted with skeleton trees. They were quite creepy.

And of course, the animals were amazing. And for the most part, they're really, really dumb. Here we are, the kings of the food chain getting dumped on these islands by the boatload every day, and they barely even notice us. We walked in amongst the sealions, very close to their pups, and if we got a lazy half-opened eye in our general direction we were lucky. We're weaving in and out of the breeding ground of all sorts of birds, dangerously close to their eggs, and they just blink at us. Word on the street is Darwin would sit for hours and chuck marine iguanas into the sea, and they would crawl back out and right up to him, and he'd just chuck them in again. I have to say, I can understand the appeal. If after hundreds of years they haven't learned that we're dangerous and to be avoided, they deserve a few surprise swims.

My very favorite bird ever is, hands down, the blue footed boobie. Just look at this bag of doughnuts. It has blue feet! How cool is that? It's mating dance is pretty much lifting it's cool blue feet up one at a time, as if it's saying "Hey! Check out my feet! They're blue! Wanna do me?" No,little weird friend, I would not, but I will take you home and let you walk all over my furniture with your wicked-ass blue feet.

Another sweet feathered friend is the frigate. It has this red sack under it's chin that it puffs up with air during mating season in the hopes of attracting a lovely female friend. They look really ridiculous, sitting around with this big red balloon forcing their heads back like they have a horrible neck injury. On our last morning, our guide had just finished saying how romantic these birds were because the men are very protective of their mates. Right then we saw a male mount a poor female that was working hard on her nest. He had his way with her (rather quickly), then flew away. And not 5 seconds later another male swooped in and had a go at her. So much for the males being 'protective'.

I didn´t see any sea turtles, but there were plenty of tortoises to make up for it. They´re a bit smarter than the birds in that they don´t seem to like humans, but they don´t do much about it other than hiss occasionally.

I could go through every one of the eight days, saying We went to suchandsuch island and saw suchandsuch beast, but I think that would bore us both. Let's just say that we had a lovely boat, entertaining passengers (all 16 of them), an attentive crew, beautiful weather, and saw many wonderful things, and if you want more details, well, you'll just have to drag your ass down here and visit for yourself. Or, you can always buy me a beer when I'm home and I'll show you my photos. All 380 of them.

On Sunday we had to say goodbye to our boat, our crew, and our new friends. But not the Galapagos. We have a few days to continue exploring without a tour group. But that's a story for another day.

1 comment:

Matt said...

That tortoise is clearly Morla the Ancient One from the Neverending Story.

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