Monday, March 22, 2010

North Seymour

Daphne in the Distance

We finally had a wonderful Galapagos day. The sun shone, the sky was blue, the sea was bluegreen, there were sharks and rays and sea turtles in the water, and interesting people to share the experience with.

Playful Seal

I was quite worried that our day would not happen. We were told to be waiting for the bus at 7:30AM, and dutifully woke up early for breakfast and stood outside on the street at the appropriate time. And waited and waited. I did not want to talk to Freddy, our slimy round toad of a tour operator, but finally I called and asked and he reassured me that the bus would come. What if we were just left to our own devices? I had talked to Eric the night before and he was on the phone early with a possibility of getting on the 'Galapagos Legend', which we actually passed on our way to North Seymour, and watched a few hours later leave on its journey without us. Eric felt that we should simply find a ship to journey on, rather than stick with our now abandoned itinerary. Rebecca seemed to balk, and I am not sure why. She is eager to finish what we have arranged, go to Guayaquil to see the child she sponsors through 'Children International' and return to Quito to visit some churches and relax a little. Jumping on a tour boat would make it impossible to visit her sponsored child, and she would have almost no time in Quito. I am ready to 'jump ship' or get off this tour and start another, no matter what the cost or time element. Eric wants me home to care of Maya so he can get back to work in the forest, but he was urging me today to 'cut my losses', 'erase' the misery of Freddy and the land tour and get on any decent boat for a 'corrective' Galapagos experience. However, Rebecca does not want to, and if all days were like today, which was as good as a day in Galapagos can be, why leave?

Seal in the Water

We have not had a relaxing time because of all the frustrations with Freddy and our itinerary. I am always trying to improve our situation, so it is challenging at times to acknowledge that we are in fact seeing wonderful things and experiencing much of what Galapagos has to offer. Our day at Sierra Negra was interesting and challenging and just because we did not snorkel where we were scheduled to snorkel did not make it a bad day. Our hotel in Isabela was more than adequate and the food tolerable. Our boatride back to Santa Cruz was comfortable (I slept) and although the Darwin Centre is not my favourite destination, it is a vital part of the park, and Rebecca certainly enjoyed it. Tortuga Beach was lovely, although it was far too distant for Rebecca to enjoy the walk, and the snorkeling was limited, but we did appreciate the boatride back to Puerta Ayora. And Seymour was interesting, although the snorkeling at Bachas Beach was not. So although everything has not been as expected, there is much that has been good. If I was not so worried about Rebecca, I would approach it as an adventure..

Male Frigate Bird

Young Frigate

Drying Wings

Baby Frigate

Male Showing Off

Mother and Child


Frigate in the Air

I am sad that Rebecca has to see this part of the Ecuadorian character; the wanting to take advantage of the 'gringos', the lying to please and not pleasing. Freddy has been a synthesis of all that is unattractive in this culture. He takes our money and then tries to take advantage; by feeding us slop (or perhaps dogfood!) by degrading our itinerary, by being offensive and telling us we get what we pay for, and if we wanted to have a luxury tour, we should have paid for one. Except that so many other tourists who paid for land tours are having wonderful experiences and seeing wonderful things!

Swallow Tailed Gull

Pair of Swallow Tailed Gulls

I was able to forget about Freddy as we motored out on the Santa Fe from the Itabaca canal between Baltra and Santa Cruz. The colour of the water was a gorgeous blue, green, turquoise, or a mix of all three colours. Our shipmates were interesting. There was a couple from Switzerland who had been sailing around the world for the past five years, this past school year with their grandson, and planning to continue as long as they were enjoying themselves. Another couple from Germany were taking a six month break from their work in Berlin to travel over South America, and two young German men were traveling for a year around the world after finishing their school programs. Conversation was stimulating and everyone was talking and sharing lifestories all day. We motored out to North Seymour, where we walked around the frigate nests. There were no boobies at this time of year, their nests being on the ground while the frigate bird nests were in the trees. Baby chicks were all over, of different ages. A few males were courting females with their red throat sacs. We saw pelicans, herons, a few boobies and swallow tailed gulls. Sea lions were frolicking around the boat launch, and when we transferred to our boat on the panga, we saw several white tipped sharks swimming around our boat. We were told they were not dangerous, since the food here is so plentiful, but it felt ominous with them floating around.

Lava Lizard

Sally Lightfoot Crab


After lunch, we snorkeled back on Santa Cruz Island, at Bachas Beach, where we battled with huge horseflies. The water was too murky to see much, so enthusiasm waned and we returned to the boat for a swim in the deep water, and a smooth transit to Baltras. We drove through the rain over the highlands back to Puerto Ayora.


We ditched Freddy and his inedible food and walked to 'The Rock' where a few mojitos were in order, along with a salad (we were both dying for salad!) and a visit with Delphine, whom we had met on Isabela. She is a crew for a sailboat, but is going only to the Marquesas where she will have to find a new boat, so she was networking at the bar hoping to find another ship to sail on. Wenseslao found us too, wondering why we would not go out to dinner with him. He seemed relieved to find us happy and well fed, but said nothing about not feeding us.


We are exhausted, time to go to bed. Tomorrow, Floreana.

Blue Footed Boobies

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