Fuel Fiasco and Firework Fiesta
Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sun 19 Feb 2012 06:42
Today started badly for a couple of reasons. Firstly I had a chat with Paul, the ARC rep, last night and he said that I had missed the deadline for getting fuel here in San Cristobal before the weekend and that public holidays meant the earliest we could refuel was Wednesday. (Bertie and Estella used up a lot of our diesel the night before, running the air conditioning, and I was no longer comfortable leaving here with the fuel level so low.)
The other annoyance was that the wind was all over the place during the night and a (non-ARC) boat that had anchored too close to us banged into us a couple of times during the night. I had to get up in the middle of the night to shorten our anchor chain (a bit of a risk but the only way I could stop the collisions without completely re-anchoring in the dark). The other boat could easily have let out more chain, but they were apparently oblivious to their boat scraping against another one and not once did they look out to see what was happening. In the morning they upped anchor and left quickly. It wasn't until later we saw the nasty scratches their chain had left on Anastasia's stern.
In the morning I spoke to a water taxi driver about our diesel situation to see if there was any way I could get diesel before Wednesday. He said it was no problem, I just had to take my jerry cans to the petrol station and fill them up. So I borrowed some jerry cans off our friends on Trompeta and set off in a taxi to the local filling station. At the filling station the attendant explained to me that as a visitor I would have to pay $5.35 a gallon, rather than the local rate of $1.25 a gallon. Which was fine by me, it is still cheaper than diesel costs in Europe. I have no idea if this was legal or not, some people say you need written permission to buy fuel in Galapagos whatever rate you paid, but at the filling station I was assisted by a policeman wearing a gun so we had some level of official sanction.
With diesel in the tank we went out to the fiesta to celebrate. It was a good party, but the highlight of the evening was definitely the fireworks. These started with a guy launching flaming hot air balloons into the sky, carrying magnesium flares which dropped hot embers onto anyone downwind of them. The fireworks culminated with a man dressed as a bull, with fireworks attached all over his costume. The costume proceeded to fire flaming rockets into the crowd in all directions, Everyone was ducking and shrieking and it was generally much more fun than your regular firework display.
After the party we had the nightly trip back to Anastasia in the water taxi, which is getting more difficult by the day. We now have chairs tied down on both the bottom steps and it is really hard for us to get off the taxi, but at least the sealions have not boarded us recently. Bertie and Estella say they have been fighting each other in the water by the steps, for the opportunity to try and broach our defenses, but when it comes to the crunch then the chairs are just too daunting for them to jump over. If they put just one flipper onto a chair then it would collapse, but fortunately they have not worked that out.