Roger and I were happy to hear a
knock on the hull and Rob asking for permission to come aboard, daft question
With the crew safely aboard we discussed plans for the
rest of our stay. Rob had picked up some gastric bug, so Roger, Sheralee and I
went ashore to explore. We hired some bikes and set off in search of the Laguna,
where we hoped to see Flamingos.
After an abortive start,
Sheralee’s chain broke and we had to get a replacement bike, we found the
Laguna. We didn’t see the flocks of flamingos we expected, but we did manage to
see one flamingo.
We then set off to find the wetlands. The USAID
programme has funded the construction of boardwalks to make the wetlands
accessible. Our destination was the Giant Tortoise breeding centre.
Apparently there are several
different breeds of Giant Tortoise, each specific to the volcano area that they
inhabit. There are 5 major volcanoes on the island.
The giant tortoise population
suffered when the whalers first visited the islands, as they used to catch them
and use them as food. Then when the settlers came, they did the same ( I mean
they’re not hard to catch!!!) plus the introduction of goats, rats, cows and
ants helped to reduce the colonies further, until they were on the endangered
Initially, the centre rounded up
all the tortoises they could find, around 70 in all.
Now some of these are over a 150
years old, but boy are they fertile. There are hundreds of little tortoises
everywhere. Within 2 years of bringing them to the centre they had 200
Alas Lonely George, the lone
Giant Tortoise on one of the other islands will be out of luck, as he is the
last of his species, so when he goes, the species goes with him.
They really are amazing, when
they stretch their necks out of their shells, they look like snakes. I can’t
imagine how heavy they are, but they seemed to be about 2 ft high, with shells
about 3-4ft in diameter.
After our visit, we dropped by an
Iguana breeding area. They have set up an Iguana crossing for them to get safely
across the road.
Hot and sunburnt, we headed for
the Hotel Albemarle, where we knew we could get a long cold drink and internet
Finally, we dropped our bikes off
(but not before Roger had dropped OFF his!!) at $10 for 5 hours, I thought it
was a good deal. We headed for the jetty and went to pick up the laundry. The
Conch de Perla laundry is just off the main road near the jetty and they wash,
dry and fold your laundry for $1.50 per kg, which is the cheapest we have found.
Roxanna does a good job and it sure beats hand washing.