Been here awhile. Two weeks. Tried to have a boat sewing project completed by a local. No good. Couldn’t find anyone in either of the shops that we could talk to. Oh, there were some commercial machines visible through the windows but no one was ever around. So, we decided to do it ourselves. Thankfully we did purchase a Sailrite machine prior to cruising. That machine has come in handy on three separate occasions and we even used it prior to our cruise. We had serious need of it in Cartegena, the San Blas, and now the Galapagos.
After we arrived and had slept away the better part of a day or so, Pablo visited the boat and offered us a tour of the island for 40 bucks per person. Tony on sv Cetacea had been offered a similar tour for $65 dollars so we felt pretty good. But one never knows what is included and what not. I thought the ferry ride was included from the boat and back. NOT. We actually found two other cruisers that had indicated an interest so the four of us Steve, Kim (sv North Star), W/ and I were on the ferry at 8 ish heading to town for our 4 person tour.
The tour was well worth the $49 bucks each we paid, including transportation and tip. We stopped first at the Turtle sanctuary where they are attempting to restock the land tortoise supply of the island. At one time there were about 100,000 tortoises living on the island and past residents (people and animals) had dwindled that supply down to now about 3,000. So
the scientists and their helpers dig up every nest they find and incubate the eggs, care for the young till they reach about 5-10 years of age and then release them into their natural habitation hoping to restore the existing stock. Each turtle gets numbered, the younger ones with paint and the older ones with permanent etchings in their shells. They; the turtles, are rather ugly, immense, noisy creatures chewing on the plants with nairy a thought about etiquette. Their mouths are reminiscent of the age of dinosaurs and they walk short distances then; BANG, down they go. Obviously resting. But as they do plop down one hears the sound of 250 lbs being dropped from 10 cm’s. There just is no grace in their movements. Anyway, none to our eyes.
From there we traveled to the site of a volcano caldera that has filled with fresh water. On some days the Frigate birds will fly up there and clean their wings. The Volcano fills during the rainy season and has no egress from the walls. Only water removed by the Ecuadorians or nature is effecting the lake level. Why it is not like the great salt lakes I can only guess is that it is rather young; that is, in geological time. We hiked up without our guide he most likely feeling a needed siesta coming up and I walked down to the water level while W/ Kim and Steve hung out on the edge.
Upon descending we drove to one of the coolest tree houses I’ve ever seen. As children we played at a friends tree house and even I believe slept there one night, but compared to the tree house of our childhood, this was 5 star. Cooking, refrigerator, loft with bunks, easy chairs, couch, hammock and a good breeze. It was all yours for the sum of $20/ person per night. In the bottom
of the tree house was a man cave. There again was a fridge, TV, and cot. It also was cool. All of us marveled at the size of this tree not even coming close to circling it with all outstretched arms. We then viewed the accouterments of the Alboral Casa while savoring a Magnum Ice Cream bar. My excuse; lunch was an hour or so away.
Next we stopped at ruins of an old restaurant but here there was a view of the Ecuador side of the Pacific and a view on the leeward side where were anchored off the harbor. On to the South Beach we went; la Lobaria but we didn’t go to watch the Sea Lions, we went to see the Marine Iguanas. Here, as no where else in the world the iguanas swim out off the rocks and dive to the bottom feeding on the algae. Obviously we didn’t get in the water and record this event; although Steve sincerely wanted (wants) to, but we followed a few around Sunning themselves and after tiring of them we piled back
into the taxi truck with our Guide and drove back to town for our traditional Ecuadorian lunch.
While it may be traditional it is not really for me. A soup with what ever the restaurant seems to have left over that day, a piece of grilled fish. some starch something and juice. While one would not starve to death consuming the plate of calories one would never describe the meal as a gastriointestinal delight. Survive yes; enjoy – not I.
There in we returned to the boat for an evening of rest. The following day found the 4 of us heading to the Interpretation Center a short walk outside of town where we picked up a good dose of Galapagos history. Seems to have began after Darwin fell upon this magic kingdom and there in various nations and people put their hard labor into creating and selling it as a paradise. They exploited the land, the sea, and each other; all ending in what seemed to be often tragic deaths. These islands have difficulty supporting people with any variety of food sources. The islands are dry 8 months of the year and being of new volcanic origins they have very little fertile soil. They’ve imported Goats; not much meat there, and the goats ate a lot of vegetation that the turtles feed on adding to the declining turtle population. They’ve harvested Sea Lion pelts and I’m sure ate and sold Sea Lion meat as well as Turtle meat. As those populations dwindled and as the world began to see this ecological area as most unique in our floating spaceship the Ecuadorians finally discovered the best way to exploit these islands. Tourism.
After our visit to the Interpretation Center we hiked some of the trails and found a great vista of the Western side of the island where Steve and Kim began their Frigate bird hunt; but with a camera. Kim wanted badly to capture a picture of the male Frigate in full mating style with his blown up red crop that they wandered the trails on the cliff edge for nigh on another hour while W/ and I descended to the gorge where others were swimming with the Sea Lions. Unfortunately we didn’t bring any snorkel /swim gear but promised ourselves we would tomorrow.
The following day we four gathered at the dock carrying bags of gear and snacks. I had expected to pick up water at the store on the beach on our way; my only snack I would carry. This should have been my fist clue that the day would not go as planned. It was closed. Kim indicated she would share her water as needed so we trudged on. We walked the trail to the gorge and over the rise our four faces showed disappointment. A young couple was sitting on the rock entrance chowing down some lunch watching the waves come crashing in. Young and bold they were, they told us they had gone in earlier and the water was so cloudy that the Sea Lions were not even interested in them and really, they couldn’t see anything. For once we chose to listen to the voice of experience and walked away. But not to be disappointed entirely my first order of business was to find a delectable snack; I was looking for the Magnum bars I love. Again wiser minds put me in my place saying that I need to find some “real” food first and then I could indulge in my ice cream fix. So it was Ceviche followed by the Magnum bar.
ps They don’t have any Klondike Bars here. 🙁
pps After the couple of days being a tourist and not finding a place to sew our sail, Bolivar (our agent) not connecting us with anyone to sew our sail, we decided to repair it on our own. We spent one am pulling it down and roughly folding it on the boat. What a PITA! It is amazing how big things are on the boat when you take them down and begin working on a 500 square foot sail in a 25 square foot cockpit. We hauled it back to the cockpit where it sat out one day and the next while we arranged our
supplies from inside the boat. We discussed where to stitch it, what we would need. How much, do I need to cut some Sunbrella with the hot knife, etc? In the end we had the inside of the boat a mess but we didn’t need to do much cutting of the Sunbrella and we discovered all we really need to do a lot is a lot of sewing. We sat the machine on the cockpit seat and W/ helped me drag the sail so I could run the new stitching. I used the Tenear thread even though it is really, REALLY, expensive. I don’t like having to do things a second time especially when I could have done it right the first time. We were lucky that day. I figured it would be at least a 2 day job as we had been getting some drizzle in the pm. But here Neptune and his relative Mother Nature decided to let us be. Twas a long day with lots of 40′ runs of stitching varying between straight and zig-zag. We tried to not go over a lot of the old stitching exactly as I didn’t want to weaken the sail at all and this sail is one of our work horses. By 3 pm we were finished and now it was time to put it all away. At 4 pm we were on the VHF calling other cruising friends looking for company for dinner. No way W/ was cooking as we had basically worked straight through.
Tony chose to join us and therein we talked him into a brief visit the following day to aid in hoisting the Yankee back up, send me up the mast to check out the rig there, clean the VHF antenna connection and hopefully assist W/ in retrieving me from the lonely heights. Paid in Oreo’s and beer Tony was a happy man. He hauled my slightly overweight behind up the mast with a 28 volt angle drill and a wench bit. W/ tailed. And going up was much like traveling in an elevator. W/ now thinks she needs to add one of those drills to our list of boat stuff as she’s been the one to hand crank my hulk up 60′ above the water. She’s sold. And on and on it goes. We check stuff off the list, add stuff to the list. Check off places we’ve been and things we’ve seen and add some more to it. Now I’m wanting to see the Blue Footed and Red Footed Booby Birds. Next week, maybe.