9 May 2009
This is what the world would be like if humans had never messed with Mother Nature (perfectly stated by Tim). Yes, this is what the world should be like. We only flew in to the islands yesterday, but I am already in awe of this place!
But, before getting to the pleasantries, I shall get the negatives out of the way!
We arrived in the Galapagos two days ago. Having been greeted by sunbathing sea lions and crystal clear waters, we boarded our boat which was surprisingly nice, with a large sun deck and lounge area. Our room, however, was another story - somehow Tim and I managed to get the worst room on the boat, even though there were no price differences between rooms when we booked. We were stuffed below deck, in the smallest cabin, right near the engine and generator. We cannot actually have the both of us in the cabin at the same time, unless one person squeezes on to one of the claustrophobic bunks, and forget about even attempting to close the bathroom door when engaging in business! Too small! With no window but a small porthole which just overlooks the level of the sea, we have no ventilation whatsoever so the musty smell from the bathroom just lingers. Worse still, when the engine gets going we are slowly lulled unconscious thanks to the lovely smell of diesel, but that's only if we can somehow stop our teeth from chattering (the generator causes vibrations you wouldn't believe). Just fabulous! What makes matters even worse, is that there are two single travellers on the boat - one guy, one girl - who, for some unknown reason, each received a room on the top deck, with a double bed and full size, opening windows, all to themselves!! Pretty ridiculous if you ask me.
We are over the initial shock of it all and now just find it hilarious, really. The couple that got the other crappy room (there are only 2 of our unique cabins on the boat - how lucky!) are on their honeymoon (!) so we cannot really complain. And the hubby isn't the smallest guy, so I have NO idea how they are going to even manage sleeping!
Oh, to be honest, you could put us in a garbage can and we would still be over the moon about being in the Galapagos! Ok, enough said about our dodgy cabin!
Our first destination, was Las Bachas (a beach) on Santa Cruz Island. The sail to Las Bachas in itself was spectacular with flocks of pelicans and frigates following the boat, hoping for a fish. Once we arrived at the beach, our tour guide took us on a leisurely walk to start the introductions (with all the animals, of course!) We saw bright, red crabs, large marine iguanas and pink flamingos in the space of 5 minutes, followed by large schools of so many different types of fish when we got the chance to go snorkeling. Ah, I love to snorkel indeed. And the water was so clear.
The next morning we had an early start (7.30am), but it didn't really matter as we were woken by the sound of the engine at 4.50am…but the slight rocking of the boat was quite nice, really, and soon put us back to sleep…or was it the fumes? I don't know, but luckily, Tim and I don't suffer from sea sickness…unlike some others on the boat. Ugh. Poor, poor girls.
After breakfast, we continued our wildlife discoveries on South Plaza Island where one of many, many, many (yahooooo!) sea lion colonies resides. Oh, they are such amazing animals! (nb. distinguished from seals by reason of their external ears - just a fast fact to prove we have learnt something, not just how to booze ha ha!). To be able to approach these awesome creatures without them even flinching is so wonderful! Sure, the mothers are protective of their pups, but you can truly come so close to the pups that they can sniff you! So cute!! And the noises they make - imagine a room full of hungover footballers vomiting in unison…that pretty describes that! So, a much prettier animal to look at than to listen to!
The island in itself was super unique - really rugged and covered in freakishly large green cacti (which I loved - and which land iguanas also love. The shade of each cactus is 'owned' by one iguana couple for the duration of their lives) and red carpet weed. The contrast between the blue of the ocean in the distance and the reds and greens on the island was really beautiful. Temperature on the island? Just a mere 45 degrees!
I could have sat by the cliffside for hours (even in the heat) watching the blue-footed boobies (a very cool bird, with sky blue feet!) flying and iguanas crawling all over each other. It was just amazing! P.S. I think I saw a whale…sighting yet to be confirmed.
After a snooze on the deck, we went snorkeling with sea lions around stunning Santa Fe Island. Yep! With sea lions! I am officially in love with them and want to take them home! They are cheeky little things, blowing bubbles in your face if you come close enough and mimicking any underwater antics you put on display. Oh! It was beyond superb! I must say, that hour or so, was by far, one of the most perfect experiences I've had since we left home. There is no fear or any anxiety felt by them, because they have nothing to be afraid of or anxious about as they have never been harmed. It got me thinking of all the wrongs done to so many animals all over the world and wondering why can't we all just appreciate them from afar? The world would be a much happier place and the animals would surely appreciate that.
It was sad to say goodbye to them *sad face*
Today was spent on Espanol Island. Gordon Bay has a beautiful stretch of white sandy beach which would rival anyone's idyllic paradise. Sea lions dot almost the entire length of the beach, marine iguanas swim freely trying to fight the waves and hood mockingbirds jump around searching for food. We were also told about some reef sharks which inhabit an outcrop just off the shore. Me, having never yet seen a shark (any shark) in all my times diving (and having been glad not to), was convinced by Tim to swim out and find them. Oh, what the heck! We swam out and circled, and circled, and circled, and almost when we were about to swim back to shore, we spotted them. Three of them, just resting on the sea floor! It was so eerie seeing sharks for the first time…was really cool too! Next step? Hammerheads at Gordon Rocks! That's in a couple of days so I have time to prepare. Breathe…
I missed the snorkel at Gordon Islet this afternoon, as the mask I've been given has bruised by head and given me a terrible headache and the fins have caused blisters. I just couldn't bear to put them on again. I am now so disappointed I didn't go, as the visibility was apparently the best yet, and Tim spent his time playing with 20 sea lions in a cave! Noooo!!! So jealous. I think I might cry.
But, we did venture out for another hike a few hours ago and we saw what seemed like thousands of blue-footed (and other) boobies and albatrosses, which, again, just didn't seem to mind at all that we were there. Even an albatross sitting on an egg, didn't find it necessary to move when I came close for a photo opp. They are such funny birds, the albatrosses, because they're the size of turkeys and need to do a run-up before they fly. It was hilarious to see them using a natural runway to manage lift-off before they reached the cliffs! Haha! But they are amazing when the fly! Plus, they are monogamous for their entire lives AND the male albatross actually helps the female incubate the egg! Oh, what a guy! Now, if only human males could somehow take over pregnancy… haha
Ahhh…the Galapagos…the most amazing place in the world. I want to live here, in Ecuador's Garden of Eden.
But I am now so very sleepy and must go to bed… I hope that tonight in my dreams I get to swim with sea lions again…