Since we had lost our dinghy, we had to get a water taxi to take us from the boat to shore. This was the last morning of our boat tour, and we spent it visiting the Charles Darwin Research Centre (CDRC) in Puerto Ayora.
The main function of the Research Centre is the study and breeding of the different species of Giant Land Tortoises. The first few pens held some of the baby tortoises, which were very cute, then the other larger pens held the adults.
We had unfortunately missed out on meeting Solitario Jorge (Lonesome George) by about 2 years. Lonesome George was the last of his species, found on Pinta Island in 1971 and brought to CDRC in 1972. No one could find any more of his species, so he was kept in an enclosure with two females from the closest related species they could find. Alas, George didn't find these ladies remotely appealing. He died young, at 103, without having found his perfect match.
There were adults from the 10 other species of Giant Land Tortoise on the Galapagos Islands, the creatures which gave the Islands. We were told it's their name due to the resemblance of their shells to a Spanish saddle, called galápago, however after some research is might simply be that galápago means tortoise?!? They all just sat around, or moved around very slowly. As expected from their name, they really were huge! Especially some of the older males.
After roaming the CDRC for awhile, we had a few hours to explore the town. Those finishing the cruise that day left for the airport, and those continuing would return to the boat around lunch time. We would be taking a "ferry" to Isla Isabela a 2pm.
The town was predictably touristy, with loads of restaurants, galleries and souvenir shops. We wandered for a while until it was time to collect our bags from the boat. We then purchased our ferry tickets and had some lunch, a delicious traditional Ecuadorian soup.
Before departing for Isabela we had to go through a bag check, then we were put on a water taxi to reach the ferry. After paying for the ferry it turned out we also had to pay our own way on the water taxi! You pay for everything on these islands.
The ferry turned out to be a vaguely seaworthy speed boat which about 20 people were squeezed into. We took the seats at the back to ensure the least movement and some fresh air, even though we had to put up with a bit of spray.
About 2 hours later we arrived at Isabela, paid again for a water taxi to the jetty, then paid US$5pp just for the privilege of using the jetty! We hadn't booked any accommodation so we set about wandering the streets and enquiring with a few places.
One hostel by the beach wanted US$100 for a private room per night! Surely we could find cheaper? We did find a reasonably nice hotel for US$60 a night, and while discussing this option out the front a really nice couple told us about their accommodation at US$30 per night, so we followed them! This guesthouse only had a twin room with shared bathroom left for the first night but we got that for US$20 so we were happy there.
We ended up being shown to a cheap local eatery with the other guests for dinner, all lovely people. We ate a 2 course meal for US$5 a head. There are some cheap places in the Galapagos!