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Published: March 16th 2020
We flew from Guyaquil. The hostel manager sowed a seed of doubt by reporting that all flights to Galapagos had been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Fortunately this was not the case and we flew the following morning.
The holiday lifestyle took a sudden lurch to the luxurious. We shared a boat with 11 others for an 8 day cruise with our own guide. SOOOO swanky! The accommodation was as alien as the wildlife. It seemed weird not to be booking our next hostel, plotting our bus route or researching where the bus stopped. We were confronted at every turn with delicious food. Daily routine was snorkel from the zodiacs (pangas) and a walk twice a day.... oh, and a bit of kayaking. Returning from snorkelling we were met with hot towels and nice nibbles like pancakes and chocolate dip.
The Islands are pretty barren, mostly reddish lava with sparse vegetation and lots of examples of lava shapes that we dimly remember from O level geography, including the legendary aa-aa and pehoehoe. Isn't it amazing what you remember from school that is totally useless and what you forget that would actually be quite useful?
The giant tortoises
are plentiful and regally block the restricted footpaths. Marine iguanas are also abundant. We watched them digging nests for their offspring. The best bit is the snorkelling; lots of very colourful fish. Sudden flashes of Galapagos penguin. Sea lions who come to play with us and demonstrate their spectacular speed and agility, leaving us feeling quite ungainly. Sea turtles graze on the algae covered stones, looking as though they're pecking at it as they tear bits off, oblivious of our fascination.
Our own room with en suite! (pretty cosy dimensions though).
There are four very sociable Swedes and a bunch of europeans twentysomethings on long trips round the world. Then there is Joe, an American of 82 who appeared to be short on social awareness, organisation and memory. He has been wonderfully supported by everyone else and I guess he will continue on his travels til he drops.
We are off the web for 8 days. Cathartic!
The boat has a stack or national geographic magazines dating back to 1973; weird to read articles about navigating Antarctica before satellite communications and the www. Adverts talk about sending forms snailmail for further product details.
One of our favourite birds (along with everyone who has been lucky enough to visit the Galapagos) is the Blue-footed Booby. This lovely bird eats sardines and as everyone knows, eating sardines makes your feet go blue. If you are a male booby and a fine catcher-of-sardines, your feet (naturally) are a deeper shade of blue than the other chaps in the flock. OF COURSE you want to show the lady boobies your beautiful blue assets, so you have to wave your feet around in a very charming and (to the lady boobies) erotic way. Looks a bit like pilates ….standing on one leg waving the other foot around to the adoring crowd.
And of course the beautiful frigate bird - amazing that it eats fish but doesn't have waterproof feathers so can't risk getting wet in case it drowns. Seems a pretty poor design to us - it has to rely on catching flying fish as they fly out of the water! And in order to impress the lady frigate birds, the male has a big inflatable pouch below his beak that is bright red and the bigger it is the more manly (or frigately) he will
appear. To make sure the lady frigate birds notice these enormous red inflatable pouches, the males vibrate the pouch so it sounds like a drum. And if you, as a frigate bird, are not well-endowed in the pouch department, the answer is to stuff moss and twigs underneath the pouch and Bob's your uncle so to speak. There must be easier ways of finding a mate.
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