Isabela, Week 2-4, Galapagos 0:57.8S 90:57.7W

Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Mon 11 Apr 2011 23:02
Isla Isabela, Galapagos
Colin and I, by the time we reach Isobella, really rather fatigued.  We are, as every in a rush and the home duties are being horribly neglected.  The bottom of our boat look ferrile and once in the water the realisation that we have a fur lined hull, the obseen looking dirty water mark is nothering compared with what lies beneath. 4 two hour stints under water later and at least the water line is visiable but anything under arm reach I've left for another day.  Either the weed on the bottom is growing faster than 'mile a minute' or no-one has really given the hull a decent scrub since the Perlas islands in Panama. But unlike other places you are not alone in the water,  It really isn't bad scraping and buffing for all you hearts worth in amongst  frollicing sealions and curious puffer fish with the occasional appearance of a darting penguin.  If house work in the UK was as interesting I might embrace it a little more.
More birdlife Tropic Bird Galapagos Flamingo  Something else  Waders and a finch
Just getting the dinghy to the dock feels like your in a natural history programme, we have to count the stingrays, spotted eagle rays, jumping sealions, prehistoric swimming iguanas, and heads of the uba sweet penguins whizzing past.  You could sit under the shade dingy dock for a whole week watching the sally Light foot crabs skipping or the Iguanas blending in to the volcanic rocks plus all the above cavorting around as if no humans were present, it would be difficult to get bored of it.
     The Iguana Hotel

Our first outing is a bit disappointing we go for a snorkel in a natural pool that floods each day at high tide and brings with that flood a whole host of sea creatures,  as we approach this peacefull setting is shattered by the islands kids competative swimming team.  which puts an end to animal survilance, but it does make it all the more increadible the way the kids on this island live they don't go to a claurine filled pool to practice they do their practice alongside sealion of turtle, gaint iguanas and Rays.
Trip number 2 is to Isla Tintorella to observe a nursey of Iguanges absorbing the suns rays and watch 20 or so white tip sharks lazing around in there Casa, getting some well deserved shut-eye before hunting during the hours of darkness.   We see the biggest daddy sealion I ever would like to see and at distance, he's carrying his young on his back and being totally paternal.  And everywhere you look there are piles and piles of Iguanes the size of small dinosaurs.  Then we get round the bay in the hope we are going to swim with all the animals we've just observed. But the water is noticeble colder here and the kids need wet suits. Colin carries on and gets to be circled by a couple of white tips or was it circled twice by one.....
    A huge brain coral.

 Bob and Eleine (s/v Pipistelle) get custody of the canape plate that is making its way round the world from drinks party to drinks party/ We were passed it in Kuna Yala by Jim and Emma on s/v Blue Sky all those months ago. We thought we would give it a lift through the Canal and on a bit before passing it on to its next lift.
Our one big outing which we know nothing about but are told it's a must, 'The Tunnels Tour', starts about 8am collected by rock'n'roll panga, with 350hp on the back. Along with friends on Pippistral start to whizz towards our destination. 10mins out, we abruptly slow down!  to be shown an enormous 'MANTA RAY' now the adrenaline starts to pump,  but for the next 35 mins the sea is littered with the darn things we watch a couple jump twice, now the endorphins are pumping, next we circle a couple of hammerheads ready for the big hairy canary, getting through, at high speed, the massive breaking surf into lava strewn shallow waters.  The kids and I are by the time we meet the shallow water crouching on the bottom of the panga, and I'm holding onto them for dear life.
On the other side of the surf we find ourselves in a landscape that is totally surreal.  It's a seen of what looks recently chilled volcanic lava creating strange formations, with the occasional cactus or mangrove
strouting out from no-where.  This lava is surrounded by cristal clear natural pools which is shelter to what is now a regular scene of , white tip sharks cruising in the shallows along side turtles, rays and sealions all in a scerince enviroment.
We are taken to a sleepy pool to see more than 40 snoozing Turtles of various sizes from babies to grandpapa After a calm hour cruising and walking the lava pools it's back into the excilerating surf and back into shallow waters in search of Sea horses and white tipped sharks. doned with wetsuits marks and flippers we following our rather gorgeous guide who find all the the above. The sea horses, rather
disappointing but finding a white tip emerging from his sleepy hollow about 3 meters away was a breath stopper for us all.  Z freaks for about a nano second and then realises we're all with her and it's safe.  Fabritio then finds us a cave full of about 15 snoozing white tips, its magnificant.  Even Cos and Z get to observe with the help of Fabrito, they dive into den door way. Lunch amidst the biting flys then snorkeling with giant turtles,  then back into the scarey surf scating our way through the litter of Manta's.

Zinnia has really picked up on the need for conservation she is constantly diving in the dinghy and collecting stray plastic bottles and rubbish floating in the water.  Whilst we've been we have witnesses afew distressing seens, we hit a Manta whilst we were on our high speed panga return journey and then 2 days ago we was a grand old turtle floating on the surface, obviously another direct hit from prepellas at speed. It has made us a little concerned the impact that tourism is having to the island, and this is one of the least visited and most laid-back of the inhabited islands.

Colin and I had an amazing treat last week, our friends, on Pipistrelle have a friend, nanny Janet, to help them with the passage to the Marquesas. Janet kindly obliged by looking after the children for half a day whilst we whizzed off to dive off a volcano,  Colin whilst being dreadful at looking for anything around the home came into his own whilst diving, spotting Manta about 10 Hammerheads, enormous Turtles, Sealions playing all around us,Stingrays,  large schools of bright blue and yellow fish and Snappers, silver fish and  plus a whole host of other sealife 20 mtrs under the ocean. We even got to see girating male frigates tempting the ladies with there puffed out red scrotum chin, and beautiful elegant tropicbirds giding the air current above.
 Finding the right wetsuit before we leave
 Liz and Colin
 Bob and Eleine  
 Frigate bird all puffed up

We have finally made really good use of our bikes and cycle once a day into the village. Today we cycled up to the Giant Turtle sanctuary but this place is deserted and the only action is a load of humping tortoises,  with loud gruff thrusting sound affect to-boot. it's obviously what Giant T do on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.  And it seems like they are doing it all to help save the 7 species that exist on Isla. Saintly work...
 We pass by a local football match.  Interesting to note that when they are not being observed by the Parks Authority the local Galapagos-homosapien still drops litter all over the floor like his cousin, the mainland-homosapien.
Adventures in Isobella,  It's been totally magic and all expectation have been fulfilled, the Sealions are gentle unlike there baligerant cousins in San Cristobel. Hearing splashes or bubbles being released in the water is always an excitement.  What animal was that?  Penguin,Turtle, Sealion, Ray or Shark, now 2 weeks into it we're still racing up on deck to see who has come to visit. And we are often lulled to sleep by sealions blowing bubbles under the hull. It also the sleepy way of life and the sheer beauty, the laid back atmosphere we love about Isobella.  There are lots of things to do but nothing is rammed down your throat and it's almost void of tourist rubbish.  
We have slunk into the slow pace of life and on the days we haven't been having adventures we have  done chores whilst the kids have sailed the Opi around the other boats or done some paddle practice on the kayak.  Zinnia is now rather a dab hand at driving the dingy, so if I am ever at the controls I am given a constant stream of instructions.  We met the most wonderful couple, Hiedi and Steve both naturalist, doing roughly the same trip as us only on a 28ft old boat with no modern day equipment. Totally magic folk, going snorkeling with them was such a treat plus Z and C had a mangrove nature lesson with Hiedi, whilst stuffing down mouthfulls of her delicious banana cake.
The kids swim with sea lions   

Our last trip is to cycle the 16km to a wall made by prisoners post 1946, 'the wall of tears' said that the weak died and the stronge cried. The trip was fantastic and we came across wild tortoursise more of Darwins 13 finches, mocking birds etc but the trip on the sand road was a tuff one for the children. Z had a complete melt down and because of z's state Cosmo was just able to hold it together.  But a massive lesson was learnt when we watched 2, 30somethings being driven the 8km up to the wall with bikes on the back and a guide to assist them with advice on how to us their brakes on the return cycle whilst being followed by the taxi.  Z thought this was a fantastic idea until we explained the unneccessary us of fossil fuel, and by cycling she was saving the planet. The return trip was far less painful.
  The wall of Tears
 Wildlife now living in the wall
 Unusual roadsigns we have seen  Wild tortoise
We leave Isobella with heavy hearts, its been one of the highlights of our trip but we are back to San Cristobel to rendevue with Bonair. The kids where beside themselves with excitement about meeting up with Fin and Sam, we'd not seen them properly for over 6 months.  It's been fabulous catching up with them the kids have had a ball is like being back with the family. Plus the grown ups are all in the same boat so it's great to beable to talk about the highlights and concerns with someone who understands.  So for the 3 days creaping in to 5 days we spend together we share every meal, and lots of stories. Tomorrow we check out take a fly by Espanyola to try and catch some courting Albertrosses a sneeky day or 2 back to isobella with Bonair and then off on the big one down to Gambiers.
 We hope to see 'clacking' albatroses as the mating season has just started

Galapogos has been totally magic and for sure changed Z's appreciation of nature has forever changed.