Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Enjoying the Islands

The Santa Cruz is a well organized boat. There is a schedule which we follow to the minute. We are woken up at 6:00 AM and roll out of bed. We eat breakfast and then are ready for our first excursion to Bartolome Island, where we take a climb up about 400 steps to the top of a pile of lava rock to look over the gorgeous view of almost all the Galapagos Islands. There is limited vegetation on the island and subsequently few animals. We pass by a hill of sand where our guide tells us that 'Master and Commander' was filmed. The crew was there for ten days and only a minute and a half showed up in the film. The guides were trying to advise the director that there were no cormorants on the island and that cormorants did not fly, but the only scene that survived the cutting floor was using a flying cormorant. I will rent the movie when I come home and check it out.

Snorkeling was next on the agenda. I was on my own because Eric stayed on the boat to work on a paper. I was out only a few moments when a huge six foot shark floated past. I was so frightened! I got away from him as quickly as I could and attached myself to the nearest snorkeler. Shark attacks are rare in the Galapagos. However a tourist was attacked in January when we were here with the students. I don't think I was supposed to tell anyone about that.

We had a second snorkeling excursion in the afternoon. I have no idea which fish I saw. They were colourful and plentiful and there were no more sharks around. In the past I have swum with penguins and sea lions and rays and huge sea turtles, but each island has a very specific population of animals, and although we did see a Galapagos penguin on a rock, they were not swimming with us. Each time I have visited the Galapagos I have been to a different set of islands and each experience has been unique. Thus far nothing has been familiar on this trip. Eric has been to the islands so often and has seen everything several times, so it is not as new and adventuresome for him. I look forward to bringing my family and friends here when they visit during our year in Quito.

Another walk on the island of Santiago at the end of the day brought us our fill of marine iguanas and fur seals, along with several species of birds. I took countless pictures. I especially enjoyed watching the pelicans dive in to the sea for fish. I was always too late to get a good photo!

I feel incredibly lucky to be here. The Galapagos are a special place.

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