Published: November 19th 2007November 15th 2007
I Am Big Strong Fur Seal!!
... actually, he is just yawning.
The Galapagos Islands were amazing!
It is true what people say about feeling like you have landed on the moon when you arrive in the islands. Because the islands are located on the Equator, we imagined them to be tropical and jungle like, but there is a crazy amount of diversity - both from island to island, but also on any one island itself. At times we would be looking at beautiful turquoise colored water and would expect to see palm trees onshore, but instead we would be looking at cacti and lava rock in the surrounding area. Other times we would drive through a misty cloud forest, and then 5 minutes later we would be in a desert like atmosphere with huge tortoises on the side of the road.
We had heard wonders about the sea lion population, all of which turned out to be true. Sea lions really do sleep on the park benches! They also sleep on the back of boats which are docked in the bay, and of course anywhere else there happen to be rocks or a nice sandy beach. They were everywhere. We were able to get just as close to them as
we were hoping, and, the highlight for both of us: WE SNORKELLED WITH THEM!
They mimicked us in the water, swirling around us, almost playing with us. It was so much fun! Well, that is until the massive male bull sea lion came and we had to immediately vacate the area because they are very protective over their girly sea lions and will attack. That part was a little scary. It was also really cool to see all the animals co-existing. We would be snorkelling with sea turtles, sharks, rays, fishies and sea lions... and then on land we would walk by iguanas with lizards hitching rides, sea lions, tortoises, birds (boobies!)... and everyone was always just chillin. Definitely an "island" kind of life!
We started our trip by spending a few days on Isabella Island, where the coolest thing we did was horseback ride up to the crater of Volcan Sierra Negra... which just happened to be the 2nd largest crater in the world, and the largest active volcano (the largest non active one is in Tanzania). We actually got to walk into the crater of Volcan Chico, which is an eruption that came out of the
side of Sierra Negra. It's really neat to see how laid back and "simple" island life is. There weren't any pavement roads, it was all sand. Bob Marley seemed to be everywhere. Oh to be born there!
After Isabella Island, we headed back to the main island, Santa Cruz, where we jumped aboard our cruise ship, the "Amigo." Three nights and four days were spent jumping from island to island (though we don't remember which ones). Our cruise was nice, though, dare we say it... a little repetitive. At first we were in love with all the snorkelling and island roaming until it became somewhat the same daily routine: wake up, have breakfast, and snorkel somewhere. Climb back onboard, boat over to another island, have lunch, siestas, and snorkel some more. Usually take a walk along some path and look at some "fascinating" plants or bugs. Back onboard. Eat dinner. Possibly snorkel some more.
The thing is, some people come to the Galapagos Islands armed with a library of guidebooks and an impossible knowledge or thirst for knowledge of every plant, animal, or rock that is "endemic" to the islands. It's borderline obsession. We came for the experience
and the sea lions, giant tortoises, and iguanas. We're not plant people, so it didn't matter much to us what each tree or rock was, we just loved being there! After a while it sort of became that we were looking at the same things, taking the same pictures, just in different locations. The sea lions however, never got boring! Neither did marvelling at the beauty of the islands; they were stunning. One can never lay too long on a turquoise beach or stare too long at a brilliant sunset!
After the cruise, we changed our itinerary to stay on the main island for a few more days. There were many streets and shops to wander during the day and plentiful cantinas to enjoy in the nights. We went to the Darwin Centre and saw the giant tortoises in the wild - definitely a highlight! We also met Lonesome George, the most famous tortoise in the world, and the only one left of his species. Poor little guy! The picture taking opportunities were plentiful and we were incredibly grateful to Diego for his camera. If the pictures are a little off colour wise, it is because we weren't sure
how to play with the settings.
All together we were in the islands for 8 days and have now been back in mainland Ecuador for a few days. We are now in a city called Guayaquil, and are really just spending our time recharging our batteries - and shopping for a new camera. Trevor hasn't been feeling very well so we've been taking it easy. Last night we had a date night and went to a movie. It was an interesting experience. The theatre was in a big mall, and the malls here remind us of home. It's actually pretty crazy - there is such a mixture of poverty and wealth.
Other random things we've noticed: there are more big guns here than anywhere else that we have seen in South America so far. There are "rent-a-cops" with weapons everywhere: at the malls, banks, hair salons, etc. It's different. Yesterday we were walking down the street, when suddenly a group of men came out of a building S.W.A.T. style. It was a sight to see. The first few men got a vehicle started, then one came out with a mother gun (a bazooka?), and he looked mean. Once
all the men were in the vehicle, Mr. Bazooka got in too and they were gone. To our immense relief, they wasn't any shooting or anything like that. Our curiosity was peaked though. It was unlike anything we've ever seen before, almost "hollywood" gangster style or something.
Trevor and Kristena
There are more photos below