S: Galapagos 2013
FC: Galapagos Islands
2: Lunch was farnesca, a soup made at Easter time with 12 grains and salt cod. Molo was mashed potato served with peeled tomato (safe) also for Easter time. And dessert was a fresh fig. The neighborhood feels safe. I enjoyed a nice massage here at the hotel. | Hostal Los Alpes The charming 1920 or 1930 Hostal Los Alpes feels unchanged since its early days. Heavy dark furniture, a real switchboard, a big brass cash register at the bar, my room that feels like a bedroom in someones home all remind me that many Europeans fled to South American before and after the wars. Are these people fleeing war,, are they the rich or are they the Nazis and Fascists? | Weeding with a machete
3: Quito is a more international city full of Indian, Mexican, Lebanese restaurants as well as Mc Donalds and KFC. In Peru I saw only chinese restaurants, Chifas. I also see more mixed races here, notably blacks. i panicked for a while because I could not charge my ipad. I tried plugging my camera charger also which would not work. I tried different outlets, including some that I knew to work. No charging. Finally the obvious conclusion began to dawn on me, which I confirmed with the front desk before risking my electronic equiptment. The hotel has 110v and my converter doesn't work. Quito was ruled by the Inca for a short time. The original Inka capital was Cusco, and the most sacred temple was located in Quito, now under the Dominican church. The second capital was Quito, but the main temple to the sun was up on a mountain out of town that now has a huge statue of Mary on top. Quitos churches are covered in gold leaf on the inside and in one church twisted columns were a favorite motif. The churches were built under spanish direction with forced labor from the indigenous people and feature beautiful wood carvings. The main square bustles and was full of soldiers weeding the grass from between the cobblestones using their large machetes. The reason we have a 4 am departure from our hotel for an 8 am flight is that today they moved the airport. The tiny airport I flew in to has just been replaced by a new airport and we are the guinea pigs. Remember, guinea pigs are served for dinner here. | A few facts about Ecuador - four regions, the coast, the sierra (highlands), the jungles of the Amazon and the Galapagos 600 miles from the coast probably settled by the Inca. The religion is 80% catholic and 20% evangelicals and mormons. Inflation reached 800% in 1999, the year the country adopted the US dollar as its currency. Guyaquil is the principal commercial port. In 1822 Ecuador won its independence from spain as part of the great columbian nation of venezula, peru Panama and columbia, but left that union in 1830 to become Ecuador (named for the equator). Ecuador exports roses to Russia. The new airport has some design problems. Seats are available for only half of the people waiting for a flight and with weather delays, even fewer people. The new airport is 50 minutes away from downtown at 4 am, not 15 minutes like the old airport. The flight out the the Galapagos is on an Airbus.
6: Lunch at the fanciest hotel in town featured sweet potato and yucca chips, empanadas, blackberry and aguabanya juice, goat stew with avocado, and the otherworldly ice cream featuring taxol ice cream. we were warned to keep our backpacks under the table on hooks attached to the table legs. | I balanced an egg on its end on a nail in the center of the world today, a feat that apparently can only be done on the equator. Quito is the highest point on the equator. We know that we are on the equator because the sundial casts no shadow for a few minutes at noon, it works on one side 6 months and on the other side for 6 months, water drains straight down right on the equator, drains counterclockwise a few feet away to the north and clockwise a few feet away to the south and you can balance a raw egg.
7: Pelicans, boobies and small sharks reported swimming near the beach. | Flamingos searching for the shrimp that turn their feathers pink | Frigate birds hovering over turtle nests as the eggs hatch to snatch young turtles
8: Sullivan Bay | Lava Oven
9: Tip Top II | Galapagos Penguin
10: Blue footed boobie | Santiago Island Sullivan Bay and Bartolome Island rope lava, intestinal lava, pumice, lava ovens, lava gulls, iodized red lava, remains of tree in lava,lava tunnels, lava lizards, snorkeling with yellow tail fish. Saw Galápagos penguins, powder blue footed boobies, the back of a sea turtle, marine iguana, terns, sea lions sleeping, penguins swimming, and a heron who landed on the boat.
11: Two Galapagos penguins | Lava cactus on Bartolome Island, seen in Master and Commander
12: Genovesa | Swallow tail gull | Genovese Island Darwins Bay We are anchored in Darwins bay, the caldera of an extinct volcano with steep walls. On our hike to Genovese Island we saw a gull nestled in the cliff, many baby Nasca booby chicks with fluffy feathers, panting to try to keep cool i\on the rocks. some Nasca gulls sheltered their eggs, some shaded their chicks, soe chicks flopped around on their own, some slept. The red footed booby has prehensile feet and stays in the low shrubbery. One hung down its head to keep its beak cool. Many frigate birds circle in the air, watching for other birds they can bully into dropping their catch. The frigate bird cannot get wet because its feathers are not waterproof. Male frigates inflate their red sac to entice the females. While we saw males inflating, we did not see any females who were interested in their offerings. The storm petrels nest in the cliffs and maintains a constant swirl of motion in the air, a cloud of birds to hide the vulnerable moment one bird chooses to leave the flock and return to the nest. Short eared owls eat storm petrels.
13: Baby boobie | Male frigate bird attracting female frigate bird | Red footed boobie
15: Santiago Island | Marine iguanas | Puerto Egas, Santiago Island Our first previously inhabited island, with a house site and water tank. the inhabitants left when the national park was created. A poison apple tree with deadly fruit, and skin irritation if you only get drips of water from the leaves. we walked along the tidepools of the shore, piles of marine iguanas soaking up the sun, baby sea lions left in tidepools or between rocks by parents out hunting fish, Galapagos hawks. After a long hot walk and struggling into the wet suit, i was rewarded with many fish, brilliantly colored, and a sea lion that swam by me. black lava sand beach. I can now snorkel for an hour, mostly hovering above the rocks watching fish, swaying in the ocean.
18: Lava lizard
19: Isabella Island | Isabella Flightless cormorants, a sea cave where blue footed boobies shat on my hat, etc. a school of golden rays flying under the boat, penguins, marine iguanas and finally sea turtles. I hovered above several turtles and got caught in the middle of cormorant courtship. Lots of baby sea lions jumping in the water. Colder waters - I am grateful for the wet suit.
20: Yellow manta ray | Sea turtle
21: Flightless cormorant | Fernandina Island | Marine iguanas
22: Ferdinada island has piles of iguanas. the iguana are either piled up on the black rocks sunning themselves after their midday foray in to the sea for food, or piled on top of each other getting ready for sleep. Walking atop other iguana keeps their little feet cooler than walking on the sand. sleeping atop other iguana keeps everyone warm at night. The male sea lions constant barking and scurrying back and forth to monitor his beach wears him out so that he can only hold his territory for two months or so.
23: urbina bay on isabella island. Almost as soon as we left the black beach for the trees we encountered our first tortoise. The tortoise reaches sexual maturity at 25 years and no one is sure how long the tortoise can live. A male at age 60 weighs around 350 pounds. Males have longer tails and concave undershells. tortoises dig holes to sleep in. As with other wildlife on the islands, they seem to ignore us and go on with their activities. then we saw the land iguanas, larger than marine iguanas, with fewer spines and a rounder tail. | Urbina Bay
24: Galapagos cotton | Land iguana
25: Elisabeth cove the high tide hid most sea animals except a few turtles, penguins swimming and a baby seal nestled on a large mangrove root. Pelicans and a native blue heron.
26: Port Villamil
27: Male sea turtle mating. The female is underneath | Baby sea iguanas | Islet las Tintoreas only held rock covered with white lichen
28: Sierra negro volcano 150 m deep, 4 miles wide, 4 1/2 miles long, usually filled with clouds. After 45 minutes trekking up 600 feet, we finally reached the caldera and gazed down. No one dared go near the nearly vertical edge. Second largest caldera in the world erupted 2005 | Sierra Negro volcano 150 m deep, 4 miles wide, 4 1/2 miles long, usually filled with clouds. After 45 minutes trekking up 600 feet, we finally reached the caldera and gazed down. No one dared go near the nearly vertical edge. Second largest caldera in the world erupted 2005
31: The Galapagos are volcanic, formed similarly to the Hawaiian islands. They are oceanic, meaning that they were never part of a continent and also that they began as sterile islands, with no life. All life on the islands had to come from the sea, the air, bird droppings, etc and survive the 600 mile trip from the mainland. Some of the islands are old, some relatively young as in 1M years. The shallow islands like the island with the airport are desert like. The US built a military base to guard the Panama Canal during WWII and turned the base over to Ecuador after the war. The taller islands catch moist air and rain at the higher elevations. Climates vary on the islands. The Panama current rings warm and humid waters, the Humboldt curren cold and dry air. and the cromwell surrent brings nutirient rich waters up from the depths. | Different life finds different niches here. In one species the males eat at night and the females during the day. The Blue footed boobies dive straight down into the water, while the red footed boobies dive at 45 degrees into the water, presumably finding different prey. The islands may have vbeen discovered by the Inca, the Spaniards defintely landed here, Pirated, privateers and whalers stopped by the islands looking for fresh water (scarce) adn took the giant tortoises for food because the tortoises can live for a year without food and water on board ship and provide fresh meat for the crewl Ecuador claimed the Galapagos in 1832. Commercial exploitation of the islands in the form of fishing, seal hunting, sugar cane and coffee growing. and harvesting lichen for dyes came to naught and the islands were used to house prisoners. In 1959 the islands were declared a national park, 1978 a UNESCO heritage site and in 1998 the waters around the islands declared a marine reserve. Problems today are largely problems of over touristing and invasive species consciously introduced like goats and pigs and unconsciously introduced like rats, fire ants and dogs and cats. | Santa Cruz
32: The twins - sinkholes
33: e time based on our location. Still, in the extra hour we saw the heron and sand flying on the beach where a sea turtle was digging a nest.w Our days are too active, a morning hike on the lava flow, morning snorkel (I loved the moment I dipped my face into the water and I could see), the afternoon snorkel followed by the hike to the light house. I will do much shorter swims/snorkels tomorrow. I also had problems with salt water and/or sun screen in my eyes. I really needed my siesta nap after lunch. Day two I opted out of pre lunch snorkeling by the cliffs to rest and to hope that our air conditioning might be fixed. We sweated in 85 degrees all night. Day three I still find swimming far to be exhausting but I can stay in the water much longer. We are all much more adept at both wet and dry landings in the zodiac or panga. This night I had the vibrating bed every time the AC came on, which is every 40 seconds. Then it turned off for 20 seconds. Day four I am the last to leave the water. A three way wet suit mixup finally got straightened out. The water is cold and we had to slip over the edge of the dingy. We kept the room warmer last night just to keep the AC from cycling all the time. Day 5 after i struggled to pull my very tight wet suit over my sweaty body, sol decided no snorkeling because the water was too rough. Our expert scuba diving couple agreed that visibility was poor and the waves just pushed people against the rocks. our most elderly member was knocked down by the waves and lost her glasses as she tried to reenter the dingy.