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Date: 13 Jul 2011 23:50:00
Title: San Cristobal July 8th - 14th 2011

San Cristobal

 

The last hour of our trip we already have tidied up the boat a bit since we don’t know if custom officers shall aboard and if they do how rapid they arrive.

We are starving so first lunch. We haven’t finished yet and indeed two custom officers arrive together with our agent whom we had already contacted months ago. After all documents are checked the boat is inspected, I am really glad the boat is neat to some extent. Our agent, Bolivar Pesantes is at the main land so his wife, Grace, takes over. After customs is done we join them ashore with the water taxi to organise immigration and clearance with Grace. Although she speaks a little English, Vries can do it all in Spanish, even though he isn’t fluent at all, he just does it, for me it is amazing to see.

 

End of February we applied for a so called autographo. A permit that allows you to visit three islands of the Galapagos with your own boat. Sounds crazy, but if you don’t have this autographo you have to stay anchored at San Cristobal and visit the other islands as a tourist i.e. with daytrips organised by the numerous travel agents present. Some 150,000 tourists per year visit the Galapagos! Moreover, it is quite difficult to get this autographo since the authorities only give a limited number of autographos so we were delighted when we heard from our agent our apply was granted. During our trip toward the Galapagos we wondered if we should skip San Cristobal and Santa Cruz and go straight to Isla Isabela because of our enormous delay. In the end we decided not to even though we know of hear say that Isla Isabela is the best. But since it is not so obvious you can visit these islands we thought, we can and we have to enjoy it! Delay or no delay.

 

After Grace took us to immigration, handed over the National Park licences, collected the monies due (pffffffffff), we were done, we could relax and enjoy. How strange it was to be on shore again. We went to a nice bar where we had our first drink in nine days, wow that tasted great! We had plans to go to this restaurant Grace recommended but we were to tired, in the bar we took a hamburger and went back to the boat by water taxi. Our dinghy isn’t fixed yet but even if it had been you can not go ashore with your own dinghy. The water taxi brings you for 0,50$. At 9 p.m. we are asleep until 9.00 the next morning. 

 

On shore we meet some of the other cruisers and than hear for the first time we have done incredibly well. There is a very racy trimaran which did the crossing in 8 days as well, then there is a ketch yacht which took nine days (but slightly smaller than us so they did well too) and then two other yachts, which each took 21 days to cross. Of one the engine broke down whereas the other one went west too early and was set off course by two storms and a stronger northerly current. In hindsight, our estimate of six days was way too ambitious, the average seems to be nine days.

 

San Cristobal is a small village and to our surprise very neat and developed. What a difference with Panama! We wander around, go to the daily market for fresh fruits and some veggies. The people are really nice, everybody is saying goodbye to each other and they don’t see you as a walking wallet with a lot of cash. Very relaxed. We can’t be bothered to cook since there are a lot of places where we can eat very cheaply and very nice! Rice, veggie and fresh fish!

 

At the ice cream shop there is wifi. We catch up with family through Skype, great to hear these voices again! We eat out a lot, it costs between $20-30 for the two of us although we’ve also eaten for 8$ and very well! Lovely that for once I don’t have to cook.

 

We book a little tour for Sunday that brings us to the Breeding Station of the Giant Turtles. And they are huge! They can become 180 years old. There is a breeding program because there are not enough females. In the wild the gender is only recognisable once the turtle is between 20 and 25 years old! The breeding centre can influence this by putting the eggs in a 30 degrees environment or 28 degree, the difference between having a girl or a boy born.

Driving from A to B you see fruit is growing everywhere, bananas, not the small ones but the size we are used to, mango, oranges and  mandarins (first time we have seen these in this part of the world).

Next stop is a lake in a volcano crater which is no longer  active. As it is cloudy and misty we can’t see a thing! It is really cold but that didn’t stop us from going to the Loberia Beach, famous for the sea lions, turtles and iguanas. Thank God we took our thin wetsuits, because we knew we wanted to see the sea turtles and sea lions in the water. Still, no sun whatsoever! We manage to stay in the water for about 20 minutes. The Galapagos climate is very different from the countries nearby, influenced by the cold Humboldt current from the south. That’s also the reason why this variety of animals, birds, plants etc. live at the Galapagos and not elsewhere. 

 

What we haven’t done yet is diving. Diving at Darwin Island and Wolf Island some 300nm North West of San Cristóbal seem to have the best diving sites of the Galápagos, but you can only get there on a live aboard dive boat, which costs some $5000-10.000 for an 8-day tour. After that Kicker Rock is supposed to be the most spectacular diving spot, which is in this part of the Galápagos: a huge rock about 8nm from San Cristóbal.

 

Actually it looks like if there are two rocks, the upper part is cut in two but at the bottom, hundred meters down, it is one piece. In between it is wide enough for diving and snorkelling. Before we went to Kicker Rock we first anchor at a very small island to snorkel.

 

We played with the sea lions and saw an iguana underwater where they can stay for about 20 minutes only! Most of the time the iguana can be spotted between the lava rocks ashore, if you look well, their colours are almost perfect camouflaged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Kicker Rock we were dropped of just at the entrance of the ‘channel’ in a very choppy sea for our first dive. I had difficulty to clear and thus to go down. Finally I managed but felt completely uncomfortable. For the first time in my live I panicked while diving. I could only think of going up which you can but only slowly. Vries tried to calm me down but it was useless, I managed to get up safely. Afterwards I think it happened because of the enormous wall of the rock underwater. It gives you the same feeling as standing on top of a big building when looking down. Angela, Martin’s wife (our dive master) was snorkelling so I could join her. Vries enjoyed himself very much!

 

After lunch we were going for our second dive, but it wasn’t my day for diving. Immediately I felt uncomfortable so I took off all the gear and went snorkelling again. Everybody hoped to see the hammerhead-shark, the divers and the snorkellers were dropped at a spot where they often rest.

 

 

Out of the blue I saw him, the hammerhead-shark. Very strange, you feel exited and scared at the same time. In the back of your mind you think, will he do something? But then I remembered we had spoken to a biologist the day before and she told us that as long as there is no fish blood around nothing happens. In fact, they are more afraid of you. I hoped that Vries had seen one too and he did, not one but three! Besides the hammerhead-shark we all saw lots of sea turtles, a school of enormous eagle rays, Galapagos sharks and sea lions.

 

Out of the blue I saw him, the hammerhead-shark. Very strange, you feel exited and scared at the same time. In the back of your mind you think, will he do something? But then I remembered we had spoken to a biologist the day before and she told us that as long as there is no fish blood around nothing happens. In fact, they are more afraid of you. I hoped that Vries had seen one too and he did, not one but three! Besides the hammerhead-shark we all saw lots of sea turtles, a school of enormous eagle rays, Galapagos sharks and sea lions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was an exciting day to say the least…

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