The centerpiece of our trip to Ecuador is a five day stay on Galapagos. We decided to stay in a hotel rather than on a boat, and I’m so glad we did! Our trip so far has been broken up with little time in each location, so it’s nice to unpack for a few days. I was worried about being on a boat every night and parts of every day since the water is supposed to be a bit choppy in July. Even so, I’m not taking any chances and will be taking motion sickness pills each morning before we take off.
We flew into Baltra, a flat island that used to be a US military base during World War II and since then is an Ecuadorian military base. From there we rode a bus to the dock and a quick ferry ride took us to Santa Cruz. From there, we got on another bus and stopped at several places as we crossed the island. One big surprise to me is that quite a few people live on a few of the islands, including Santa Cruz. 97% of the archipelago is a national park, but this island has farms and a town. Most of the plant life on Santa Cruz is not native, having been brought there by early settlers. Fortunately, the giant tortoises like the passion fruit and the wild coffee, being completely organic, is a popular export.
We started off by seeing twin collapse craters. These large craters are created when the roof over the hollow spaces left by the lava collapse. Not far away we got to climb down into a lava tube, another phenomenon created when lava escapes, this time out the sides of the volcano leaving empty tubes where the lava rivers flowed. My photos of the inside of the tube don’t do it justice, but here’s one looking up out of it, where the roof had collapsed leaving an entryway.
This island has many giant tortoises with domed shells. It was amazing to see them wandering by in the wild! We were instructed not to get closer than 3 feet near any wildlife. The wildlife is not afraid of humans, because people do not hunt them, chase them, or hurt them…we are seen as benign creatures.
We finally made it to our hotel and found a clean, barebones room with an amazing view. I chose a “garden” view because it was significantly cheaper than an ocean view, but from the chairs outside our room we can also see the ocean and the sound of the surf sends us softly off to sleep each night.
When we got up the next morning, we went out on the hotel’s boat to Santa Fé Island. I had been struck the night before with a bad stomach virus and had chills violent enough to leave me aching. I asked my husband to get me some bananas and toast…the only part of the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet that I thought he could find on the buffet. He obligingly brought me bananas and toast. I ate the two small bananas and eyed the light-brown toast a bit suspiciously, but ate it anyway. This proved to be a serious mistake. I have an allergy to oats that causes me to become terribly sleepy.
On the boat ride over, I started to fade away and slump against my husband. When we got to the island, we first got a look at the Blue Footed Boobies, then I got off the boat with my camera and took dozens of pictures of the sea lions resting on the beach. The photos look like the animals are dead…not very inviting. In reality they were shifting around, barking if anything bothered them, and the little ones were moving in and out of the water. I did finally get a series of pictures of the youngest pup, which was the most active and playful.
After the beach, we took a short hike to see the land iguanas. I could barely make each step and every time we stopped I tried to find a big rock to sit on. All I wanted to do was lie down in the trail, amongst the rocks and sand and any local wildlife, and sleep. Eventually we turned around and I made it back to the boat where I laid down and fell asleep. I slept through the ride to the snorkeling location, slept through the snorkeling, slept all the way back to the hotel, then got to my room and slept three more hours until dinner. At that point I felt pretty good and got up for dinner, but after that, I went straight to bed and slept another 9 hours. I think I must be the most rested person in the Galapagos…well, except for the sea lions!
The best and worst part was the snorkeling. Best because it was the highlight of the trip for my husband, and the worst because I missed it. He swam with the sea lions and sea turtles. One sea lion kept swimming by and rubbing up against him, then circling around and doing it again and again. Finally the sea lion swam up to his face and blew bubbles at him!
Fortunately, my oat allergy subsided after 24 hours and I was able to stay awake for the rest of our adventures.
Find the Joy in the Journey and be careful of what you eat.