Monday, January 18, 2010


Our Galapagos journey is dreamlike. We are floating on the sea, we are woken up with music, we walk on moonscapes among animals that have no fear of us, we are fed when we are hungry, and all the stars of the heavens welcome out at night. It is quite a jolt to leave the magical islands and arrive in Quito.

Maya Entertaining the Guests with Mozart

I woke up at 3:30 or so, thinking it was an hour later. I could not go back to sleep, and got dressed before the wakeup call at 5:45. I woke Maya up and got her dressed and she was halfway down the hall to get breakfast before I realized that Galapagos time was an hour later than Quito time, and that we had another hour to sleep.

Eric Clowning

I was not ready to leave the boat, so it was with reluctance that I urged the students to the pangas and back to the mainland. Our outing of the day was to take a bus clear across Santa Cruz Island to the Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora to see Lonesome George (we actually did see him, he is usually hiding in his pen) and be informed about the tortoise breeding program. All the islands in the Galapagos were populated by huge numbers of tortoises in the past, but they were hunted to extinction and for over thirty years this very successful breeding program has made progress in reintroducing the tortoises to many of the islands where there had been almost none. Lonesome George is the last of his species alive, and great efforts have been devoted to helping him reproduce with similar ( but not exactly) tortoises, yet for years he refused to have anything to do with females and recently has produced eggs that did not survive. None of the females he lives with are exactly his species, so when he dies his species will be extinct.

Crosing Santa Cruz by Bus

The tortoises are huge, with thick wavy shells and dinosaur like faces. They live to 200 years old, and move slowly and deliberately. They are not at all like the much more delicate sea turtles, which float gracefully in the sea. We were very lucky to see so many sea turtles yesterday.

Dinosaur Tortoises

We drove to the top of Santa Cruz Island, which was lush and green and covered in mist and light rain, quite the contrast to the the desert like vegetation near the sea, and on most of the islands in the Galapagos. Thankfully our walk through the Darwin Centre was not as sweltering as it has been in the past. We had limited time to see the tortoises, and were back on the bus returning the way we had come, and caught a boat to Baltra, where the local airport is, caught our plane and were back in Quito in the late afternoon.

Land Iguana

Eric is staying in Quito for another couple of days. His first lecture at Catolica University is scheduled for Wednesday, so Maya and I will travel with the students tomorrow and Eric will join us on Thursday. Maya and I both love the jungle, so are both looking forward to Sacha Lodge.

I am still feeling the boat moving underneath me. I am seasick on land. I felt uncomfortable with the swaying of the boat for the first twenty four hours, but adjusted afterward and felt the rocking helped me sleep. Now I am uncomfortable on land and miss our idyllic sojourn on the boat.

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