Galapagos Day 1 - 3rd November
First morning on Galapagos, and it is a good one ! Delightful little hotel / hostel called Cabanas Pimampiro, and even though they are a bit out of “town” (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the “capital” of the archipelago) and up the hill, since it is only a $2 taxi ride anywhere, not an issue. Fernando the owner is a delight, the rooms are excellent, and free breakfast this morning was just perfect. And what’s more, they have the first version of the “electric shower’ (that I have mentioned several times previously since my first experience with one in Guatemala, mostly in frustration, and have never seen produce hot water) but this one works !! Excellent. So we start the day well and head off down the hill to meet our cruise ship and head out into the Pacific Ocean around the islands, hopefully a LOT calmer now than it was yesterday when we came over from Santa Cruz on the boat ride from Hell ! (Jamie, this one made our sail down the coast look like a walk in the park !!)
While we were waiting I wandered around trying to find an ATM that worked – Not any easy task on San Cristobal ! In fact, impossible – All the 3 of them were refusing to hand over any money ! We had luckily managed to get some yesterday on Santa Cruz, so should be OK, but due to me forgetting about the $100 National Park Fee for the islands, we were going to be a bit tight ! In my wanderings a scooter came past with an 2 enormous fish loaded across the foot area sideways, with the head sticking out one side and the tail out the other. When I spoke to the guy it turns out he is a fisherman and he is just delivering the fresh fish to the local restaurants !!
Sea lions are everywhere – Truly everywhere. They wander the streets as if they own them, they lie on and under (when it gets too hot on top !) the boardwalk beside the water, and they even lie on the public benches if they feel like it !! Naturally they also lie on any boats parked in the harbor. And you can smell them when they get close – VERY fishy ! There are also a lot of the red and yellow Sally Lightfoot crabs – They also are everywhere, and have to move very fast when a sea lion comes past or they get squashed ! Between the two of these, they really set the scene for Galapagos – Watch where you walk at all times or you will step on something !
Just before the appointed time of noon, we met Enrique who was to be our park guide for our time on the islands. One is not permitted to go anywhere without your guide, and there is one guide for every 16 people – Which is why many of the boats take 16 passengers. So we went out to the SeaMan – The vessel that was to be our home for the next 5 days – in one of the two rubber duckies that move everyone everywhere, weaving our way through the other boats in the harbour until we reached Seaman. None of the other passengers were yet aboard – 4 English people who had already been on board for 10 days were off on an expedition for the day, while the remaining 10 people hadn’t yet arrived – Remember we arrived in St Cristobal a day early. We were shown our delightful little cabins – With the towels folded in the form of a sting ray on our beds (more of this towel-folding later !). Nice view out of our cabin window over the harbor, we unpacked, explored the ship, watched sea lions frolic in the water below us and even jump up onto the stern of the ship to sun bathe ! We saw the plane carrying the other guests fly into San Cristobal airport, and soon after they arrived and settled in, we all sat down to lunch – And it was a fine spread, I can assure you !
Once Enrique had laid down the rules of the ship, and told us what was planned for the rest of the day, we set off back into San Cristobal in the rubber duckies, heading towards the Interpretation Centre. This is a well laid out facility which explains all the back ground to the islands – Geology of all the volcanos, information about how the islands were populated over time, and of course which animals are to be found on each island. We then climbed up the trail with Enrique pointing out items of interest along the way, until we reached a look out high on the hill above the village where we could see where supposedly Charles Darwin’s vessel The Beagle first landed. Enormous frigate birds were soaring across the sky beneath us, and the view across to a small island that was caught in the sunshine was stunning. We then came back down into town where people did a little shopping, and we then caught the rubber duckies back out to The Seaman where we had a welcome cocktails with the 9 strong ship’s crew all dressed in their whites, tucked into a hearty supper during which we had the opportunity to start to get to know the people we were to spend the next 5 days with. All were English except for one couple from Sydney, and another from Prague, and it wasn’t long after supper that most people turned in after what had been a long day of travelling.
Photos here :- https://picasaweb.google.com/117739775480775657932/0131GalapagosDay1?authkey=Gv1sRgCIashMyrzeKBowE#