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Published: June 14th 2008
Grab your partner by the ears
Lash him to the wheel
Do-si-do step on his toe
Listen to him squeal
Allemande left, allemande right
It's time to sail or sink
Swing your partner over the side
Drop him in the drink
I was floating 'neath a tropic moon
And dreaming of a blue lagoon
Now I'm crazy as a loon!!
Quote from Muppet Treasure Island. That's probably my favorite song in that movie. Right, so this will probably be my last travel blog, since I get back in 20ish days. Take a look at all those beautiful pictures. I hope you guys do. It takes about, 2 hours or more to get them all on here. Right, so, Galápagos. Where I engaged in a staring contest with a seal and lost. Underwater. I lost because she blew bubbles at me and I laughed. Unfair. It's the animals world there. You're nothing more than an annoyance as they try to sleep. And sleep. And sleep. Galápagos Islands have become popular partly to the relationship with Charles Darwin. Charles Darwin who rode sea turtles and ate the tortoises. I suppose that book he wrote also had something to do with it...ha. Right. So, Galápagos. 12 main islands and 12 minor islands. 5 of the islands are inhabited, and I think the population is somewhere around 50,000 total. The first inhabitant of the islands was Patrick Watkins, an Irishman marooned on
Light my fire.
Looked like Anne's head was on fire.
Isla Floreana. They told us he lived growing produce to trade for rum to passing boats. I guess he stayed drunk most of the time. I did get tot that island and it has some cool history which I'll get to later.
So, Flew out of Quito in the morning. A little layover in Guayaquil, and then we were headed off to the Galápagos. Landed in Baltra, where the islands' main airport is located. Immediately ran into problems with customs, because YFU had told us we only needed to bring our Censo (kind of like a driver's license), when we really needed to bring our school cards. So, it was going to be 100 dollars entrance fee instead of 25 like we'd been promised. Luckily, I called our program rep, some of the other girls were talking to the officials, and we managed to get an extension on the payment, which meant we had to have proof of schooling faxed to us (which luckily worked out at the end of the trip). Pretty scary because we were all alone. But fun arguing.
From there we got on a bus headed
Crossing over from Baltra
We landed on Baltra where one of the main airports in Galápagos is, then we had to take a ferry to Santa Cruz.
to the ferry between Baltra and Isla Santa Cruz. Oh, we were met at the airport by this cranky old man with really, really clear blue eyes who we aptly named Lonely George, because he looked like he was 100 years old (Lonely George is the old tortoise, last of his kind). Right. So, took a bus to the city of Puerto Ayora and waited for the boat's crew to come pick us up on the mainland. The boat was a little...yacht maybe is the word? Like, a 15-20 person boat. Cozy. Kind of a homey feel. Got ourselves situated, 4 guys in the front cabin (A cubby in the front of the boat. 4 bunks and a bathroom squeezed into a small space. But hey, it was pretty cool).
After we unloaded we went back to the coast to go for a walk to Turtle Bay, a white sand beach where you can see iguanas and seals. So, we first hiked 3 miles down a brick path that cut right through all the brush and cactus. There were lizards everywhere. Basking on the rocks, running across the road, you name it. Got to the
This was supposed to be the room of Lukas, Taavi, Jano, and I. However, I don't think anyone slept there with any consistency. It was rather cramped, stuffy, and hot with 4 people. Lukas and I ended up under the table. The closet looking door was the bathroom.
beach where it's this really long strip of pure white sand, as fine as pixie stix powder. Walked down the beach until we got to another path to take us to a little protected bay where we could swim. The path was a bunch of scattered shells. All of them exactly the same. Walked by the mangroves and iguanas, to the bay where you could go under the mangroves to see seals. Then we got to go swimming in the cool, refreshing, calm, shallow protected bay. Ended up walking about half way out with Lukas and some others. Wanted to see how far we could go. I think it would have been the same the other half. So, that was awesome. Then we walked back, got to go swimming in the unprotected part a bit. Then it was back to the boat. The food on the boat was amazing. The chef was pretty good. He'd whip up stuff all day, and then it was free for all at the table. Well, no, we'd kind of assign people from our group to serve and then the rest was for whoever. After that it was sitting up on the very top of
Absolutely fearless. He was taking a little bath in his "tubby," or a pool of water.
the boat with a bunch of my friends and watching the stars. Most people went back into the boat to sleep, but some others and myself went to the front of the boat to watch as we sailed out of the port.
Second day we were at the Isla Floreana, which is one of the southern islands. Lots of cool history on this island. Lukas was raving to me about a book about the Wittmer family that lived on the island. I think after Patrick Watkins, the infamous drunk Irishman, there were 3 groups of German settlers. There was the Baroness with 2 lovers. The vegetarian Dr. Friedrich Ritter and his mistress, who had all of his teeth removed before he got there to avoid having dental problems. And then there were the Wittmers. Some crazy stories. The Baroness and a lover disappeared, while another lover drowned. The Dr. died of food poisoning after eating chicken. The Wittmers were the normal ones out of the bunch. The family's children and grandchildren where there when we got there.
Walked over to the Lobería along a trail. Along the way we saw
I'd come up with a name for this thing all by myself: Cactree; and rightly so. I guess it's named a Cactus Tree. World's biggest cactus species.
these weird small beach cabins that they were putting in. Looked really strange. The Lobería was a point where the sea lions hung out. In the middle was a little pool that was protected from the sea by rocks. Little baby sea lions played in the pool. Pretty funny little guys. While on the point Lukas and I walked all the way around it. Wasn't that exciting I suppose. Just really had to watch where we stepped. Also swam in the ocean because it was hot. The water was quite cool, crystal clear, and awesome. Oh, Simon, Lukas, Taavi, and I tried to build a sand castle right at this point where the ocean was breaking over the sand into the pool of water. Unsuccessfully though. We then went back to the port, where we got a ride up to the tortoise site up the mountain. Giant tortoises are, well, giant tortoises. What more can I say. Then we went up the mountain to where the Wittmer family used to live. There were some pirate caves as well. They all lived there because there's a little fresh water spring right there, and a good view of the bay. Pretty far
This is the exposed side of the bay, which is at the end of a 3km path close to Puerto Ayora. The sand is...so fine. Soooo fine. Strong currents though. So, we didn't swim out too far.
away from the coast though. Would be a long walk. Lots of ships liked to stop at Galápagos islands. There were lots and lots of tortoises. Good eating, and you could get oil from them, and...they're pretty easy to catch. That...was a big problem for the tortoises. Went back to the port, and then we sailed a ways around the island to go snorkeling at a little bay. I think we were someplace around Devil's Crown. It was awesome. The water was really, really clear, and there were tons of colorful fish, there were big schools of fish (I think watching the schools of fish was my favorite part, the synchronization was amazing), and sea lions all over the place. The sea lions would swim at you and sit there in front of you upside down with this look like "Who the hell are you and WHAT the hell are you? Will you play with me? Try to keep up old man. Oooo, fish. Well. See ya. Sucker!! Gotcha!!!" And then they would blow these huge clouds of bubbles, which we'd try to play with. And...yeah. Lobos marinos. So much fun. After swimming it was jumping off the 2nd floor
More of Tortuga Bay
More of the exposed side as we walked further down. Nothing but white sand. More like dust really, that's how fine it was.
of the boat time! It was hard as hell (I'm afraid of heights, tall kid on the boat, isn't that ironic?), but once I did it it was ok. We stayed at that little bay until the evening. Ended up on top sitting with Lukas and talking as the sun went down. Then everyone else came up and joined us. I think we stayed there until we started moving again. Then we went back up to the bow.
The next day we were in Puerto Villamil where we checked into a hotel run by this really nice guy. Really, really friendly. Got all checked in and then we went in some cars up to Volcán Sierra Negra where we got some horses and were going to ride up so we could walk down into the crater to see the activity. Well, we got up to the point where we were supposed to walk. By that time it was drizzling. Started to walk, and it started pouring. I hadn't been that wet in cloths for a while. Walked back down a ways where we ate under the horse shelter. Then we mounted up in
I like clouds. What can I say?
the pouring rain to go back down. Going back down was a little scary because by the time we got further down there were rivers instead of paths we were going down. Lukas's horse actually fell over with him on it. I'm really not sure how they both didn't break anything. But...they didn't. My trusty steed Daisy Jane got me down just fine. Though, she always wanted to be in the lead. That was a bit scary. Got back down very wet and cold, and went back to the hotel where we watched a soccer game. Waited until a boat from the ship came and picked us up for dinner. Going out there in rough seas was exciting. Went back to the shore with the crew and went to a discotech. That was a blast. Then we went back to the hotel to sleep.
Got up early the next morning, went swimming at the beach with Simon, Lukas, and Taavi. After that it was breakfast time on the boat. The guy from the hotel came and picked us up and we went to, I think Isla Tortuga to walk around and see penguins, sealions,
I always thought the marine iguanas would be bigger. But they're pretty small. Lazing about on the beach and wherever they felt like.
crabs, all sorts of things. The island gave off this heat as we walked. Still active I think. Walked through the lava field, and got to a little beach where there were more seals. Then we went back to the little cove where we where sheltered and went snorkeling. There were penguins and seals everywhere because there was a school of fish in the cove. All was very cool to watch. It got a little murky so the guy said we'd go somewhere else. So, we went more out into the open water, that's what it felt like. That movie "Open Water." Ha. It wasn't too far away from the coast really, it was just that it was exposed to all the waves. So, we'd be snorkeling and all of us would move like, 5 feet in one direction every time a wave came. And, I didn't have any fins because they didn't have my size. So, yeah. Luckily my feet are kind of like fins, so, wasn't too bad. There were a lot of coral and rock formations out there and the guy knew all these little caves and nooks and crannies we could dive down to to see
He sells sea shells by the sea shore
So, there were a lot of these tubular shells that were everywhere. Made up a lot of the "sand."
fish and sleeping sharks and all sorts of things.
Went back to the boat to get ready for the big BBQ. Ended up on our hands and knees trying to dry off the ship. Lukas and I went up top and would wring the towels onto where other people were working. I mean. We dried the top. But then it rained again anyway, so all our work was ruined. The worst was fanning the coals. The cook was always on the lookout for the next candidate as his little scullion boy to sit there with the flipper and fan the coals. Ian's host dad taught me the greatest way to get the coals you need. We made this volcano out of newspaper, built the coals up around it. He then lit a match, threw it in, and walked away. We came back 30 minutes later and we were set. No fanning needed. Wish the cook had done that. The smoke really, really made my eyes water. Anyway, there was a couple that came and joined us for dinner that night. An Afrikaner who spoke English with a British accent, Afrikaans, Zulu, and some Italian; and
Lots and lots of cactus.
his wife, an Austrian who spoke English and Spanish. The Austrian lady had the job of sailing rental catamarans from Europe to places where the customer would use them, and then sailing them back to Europe. Something like that. Anyway, they both lived together always sailing around the world. Pretty cool job. Had a nice meal with them. Then I stayed up with Taavi and Anne talking. Everyone else was pretty much done. Seasick from the rough seas. The last night was really rough. Thank god I don't get seasick. Even if I am afraid of heights.
The last day we got up and went to shore, Lonely George was off his rocker with rage. He was sooo angry that we were a bit late. Those of us who were lucky enough to be the first ones went to see the actual Lonely George at a Tortoise center on the island. I seem to remember some american saying in a heavy southern accent, "Don't back up into that cactus Larry." Hmm. The rest of the trip was pretty much smooth sailing. Didn't have a problem at the airport when we left. YFU had done its
This is the side sheltered by rocks. Really shallow, really calm, really refreshing.
job, for once. Ha.
That pretty much concludes the trip. I've been informed that I fly out of Ecuador at 10pm on the 4th of july. I think I get into Minneapolis sometime around noon the 5th. No word on if it's final or not. I'm really looking forward to getting home again. Thinking of you all, and I'll see you soon. Really. 3 weeks.
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