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South Pacific - The Sequel

Galapagos Adventures Part 2

semi-overcast 28 °C

The ferries from San Cristobal Island to Santa Cruz are high powered speedboats that whip across the 80 kilometre of open sea in just a couple of hours. However, when we turned up for our boat at 7am we found it high and dry on the beach and all the other boats packed to the gunwales. We finally got to Santa Cruz island at 5pm. In time for dinner in the famous outdoor restaurant street, Los Kioskos, where dozens of restaurants fill the street with tables under the southern stars and nearly all serve exactly the same food – the local fish...
With a population of some 18,000, Puerto Ayora, the main town of Santa Cruz, is much larger than Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal, and it has far more facilities than its sister island. There are plenty of modern stores, banks and hotels. However, despite the number of well-healed tourists, this part of the world is still relatively poor and many people scrape a living with skills that have been largely forgotten in the West. For instance, this shoe mender charged James just one dollar to mend his broken sandal using ancient machines...
Puerto Ayora is a town bustling with locals and everyone goes to the Saturday market to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and meats brought down from the highlands by the farmers. It is a busy place, but the sea–lions aren't fazed by all the human activity and consider it their right to lie around on the benches and take over the walkways, jetties.and piers...
Our first stop on Santa Cruz Island was to visit the giant tortoises that live in the central highlands...
These enormous creatures were almost extinct by 1970 when fewer than 3,000 survived among the 15 islands. Although the tortoises had no natural predators, rats, goats and pigs introduced by settlers pushed them to the brink. They also have flesh so delicious that it is said to be addictive. But, thanks to the complete ban on eating of their flesh, and to careful breeding and management programs, there are now some 19.000 of these charismatic monsters. They get everywhere in the verdant highlands but just how do they get across the busy airport road? Very slowly of course...
After mountain biking on San Cristobal we took to the water in kayaks around Santa Cruz and saw frigate birds, marine iguanas,and turtles, and then we went back underwater off the islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor for more aqueous adventures with a female sea lion who fell in love with Ian...

Although fishing is prohibited in many areas around the islands, we passed through a permitted area and our guide caught a decent sized tuna for our lunch. Sashimi doesn't come fresher than this...
The uninhabited Daphne islands off the north coat of Santa Cruz are home to great flocks of seabirds – chief among them the iconic birds of the Galapagos Islands: the comical pelicans...
and, most exotic of all: the blue footed boobies...
And as we walked the deserted island beaches we watched the giant turtles making love in the shallows before coming ashore to lay their eggs...

Well folks, that's all we have time for from the Galapagos Islands. There is so much more to experience here and if you want to see more of this fascinating and unique place you'll need to start packing. Next, we will continue our adventure in the tropical jungles of the Andes – Nos vemos pronto. (See you real soon).

Posted by Hawkson 12:41 Archived in Ecuador

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Ahhh. Tuna sashimi dipped in wasabi soya sauce, some rice crackers, a glass of Chilean white......
It's just pre-lunch here on cold, rainy northwest coast so am deeply envious.

by R and B

We had a brown footed Boobie sighted locally. Poor thing was not well and will be returned to natural habitat. Good to hear from you.

by Sue Fitzwilson

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