Vern: On our first day with the new group we visited Santa Fé island and were greeted by a beach full of sea lions. The newbies were very enthusiastic and we stayed on the beach for a long time while they took lots of photos. I entertained myself following a hermit crab who was scuttling around and retreated into his shell every time my shadow spooked him, then crept out again and hurried away when he felt safe again. Finches hovered around us as if we were Disney Princesses while we walked a short trail spotting large sand-coloured iguanas.
After lunch, two young Israeli guys taught us a card game called 'cambio' and we played while the boat sailed to South Plaza island. There, hundreds of iguanas went crazy over a yellow flower which was blooming, and like a flash mob, they bobbed their heads in unison chomping away at their snack while tropic birds fluttered about overhead.
That night over dinner we found out that two of the passengers worked as ship captains. We were surprised that they'd choose to holiday on a boat - wouldn't it be too much like being at work?! They amazed us with stories of the dangers of the high seas and the prolific nature of maritime fraud.
When the new group's possessions were loaded on board the previous day we were perplexed by a piece of luggage that looked like a guitar bag but instead of a straight neck and rectangle head stock it seemed to end in a fish tail. All became clear when, tonight, we found out that one of the girls on board was a competitive unicyclist off to a tournament in the US soon after the cruise. Bizarrely a girl with the previous load of passengers was a jump rope athlete. I suppose we need to stayed glued to the telly next time the Olympics of Made-Up Sports is on to see if we know anyone.
The next day started with a dinghy cruise through some mangroves, the 'Venice of Galapagos', and then we went for a walk on Dragon Hill and saw a single flamingo. We snorkeled off the beach in light rain and were treated to fishing pelicans crashing into the water around us like depth-charges. For one hair-raising moment Andrea found herself in the middle of a pelican battle. She ducked deep underwater and watched the rough and tumble of feathers, beaks, fish guts and bubbles as two birds had a bit of a barney.
Later, we sailed to Bartholomew Island and snorkeled around Pinnacle rock - a large sail-shaped volcanic rock. We played with adventurous penguins and curious sea lions, chased an incredibly well camouflaged fish which looked exactly like shale on sand and I saw a huge Galapagos shark - around three meters - drifting slowly on the ocean floor. After a quick change on the boat into hiking kit we walked up a volcano over tubes and troughs formed by quickly cooling lava and up to a famous viewpoint of the archipelago with Pinnacle Rock as the focal point.
The next morning we strolled around the red sand beaches of Rabida island. We snorkeled off the rocks and followed the eagle rays around. Andrea was excited to see some baby sharks. After lunch the boat anchored in James Bay on Santiago island where we enjoyed another splendid snorkeling excursion: four sharks, five playful sea lions, several rays and for ages Andrea watched a marine iguana feeding on algae underwater. We changed and went on shore for a great walk on an unworldly landscape. Lava coming up from underwater eruptions has cooled into a hard black craterous surface and we walked over lava bridges and across minature canyons to find the fur seals playing in rock pools and sink holes. The incoming tide forced it's way loudly through a blow hole known as Darwin's Toilet and the hike took us past the ruins of Darwin's house. That night we had our last dinner on board and had to pack up all our things.
Our last day started with one last activity, a dinghy tour of the mangroves of Black Turtle Bay, and then we said our goodbyes and a dinghy took us to shore, a bus took us to the airport on Santa Cruz and a plane flew us to Quito. Regrettably our wonderful week on the islands was over.