March 31 1745 Local Time 2345 UTC
After anchoring in Puerto Ayora on Saturday
afternoon I paid a visit to the Capitaineri to carry out the formalities. I did
not know this, but you must use an agent to clear into Galapagos, so the Port
Captain called an agent for me and we discussed the business and they explained
to me as best they could communicate what the process would be - and the cost.
For Rhiann Marie with 5 people aboard it was a staggering $1056 which includes
$100 per head for Parque Nacional passes.
The town of Puerto Ayora has about 12,000 people in
it and we thought the town centre was a very pleasant place. Having kicked off
the formalities, we were free to start exploring what the town had to offer in
terms of bars, restaurants and shops and we quickly discovered the "Rock", which
we can highly recommend for food and drinks and it has a splendid happy hour at
1700 - 1900 serving Cuba Libre's and Caiparina's at half price.
Next day David and Avril got organised with
trips and Trish and I booked some diving. David and Avril visited
Isabella and Bartoleme both of which they enjoyed.
Over the previous week or so I had been quite
involved in some business issues, one of which involved discussions with "our"
bank. It seems all banks are basically trying to find any way possible to
increase their revenue without extending lending or even decreasing lending. I
say "our" bank because you and I own a very substantial part of this bank, as
the tax payer who bailed them out from probable bankrupcy. "Our" bank also
because I unfortunately own a very large number of shares in this bank.
Also "our" bank because unfortunately by default they are our business
bank! Anyway being Gael Force we did not roll over or back
So having been harrassed by dealing with these
issues from afar, I needed a break so therefor in order to have a day off I went diving with sharks which
was far less risky than dealing with "our" bank!
The shark diving was great. They of course have
very sharp teeth, powerful jaws and were mostly 5 - 7 feet long, but they
at least behaved professionally and predictably and stuck to the rules. We also
encountered a very large black tipped shark as we were swimming through a shoal
of tuna and we managed to photograph and video all this activity. There were
also rays and large turtles round about us but most interactive were the Sea
Lions who swum around us and played with us. Some were very large and some were
just pups. We have found the sea to be alive with marine life as we sail round
the world. We constantly have dolphins, flying fish, leaping rays and all sorts
of other life around about us including of course the bird life. Of particular
interest to Trish were the famous penguins of Galapagos as well as the Blue
boobies. I preferred the boobies. We also encountered many of "Darwins" finches
and one Albatross so far.
On small islands off Isabella we had very close
contact with the black marine iguanas of Galapagos which are unique in the world
like many other creatures in Galapagos.
They also continually blow salty "snot" out through
their nostrils to rid their bodies of excess salt. As they bask in the sunshine
on the shore line they pile up on top of each other which makes a very strange
sight and more than a little creepy.
Back at Santa Cruz which is the name of the island
where Puerto Ayora is, we went to visit the Darwin Foundation Research Centre
where we met Lonesome George the last surviving tortoise of his species which
were from the island of Pinta. He has it pretty good, as he get's supplied with
a constant stream of "young" females of a species which is closely related to
his in order to try to persuade him to mate. They say he is not mating but I
suspect different. He will probably get caught one day...... He is after all
over 150 years old and should be very wise by
Now, I don't mean to be vulgar but have you ever
seen two tortoise mating? Well Trish and I were in one area at the national park
where they keep giant tortoise in large "natural" compounds. These guys are
enormous and their shells are 2m in circumference. We were viewing three of
them sleeping under a bush when one stirred and climbed on top of the other. The
crashing and banging of their hard shells were like two boulders being knocked
together and the roaring of the guy on top was like something you would hear
from a lion. I was slightly embarassed viewing this and had great difficulty not
wetting myself with the laughing, but Trish recorded the whole
thing - quite wierd.
We spent a very happy time at Galapagos and each
day we visited a local restaurant for some of their juices and milkshakes
and special Galapagos or Equadorian breakfasts. How about this for breakfast at
the expensive price of $4? An enormous plantain and cheese doughball, rice, an
egg and lashings of beef stew and gravy over all this served with tea or
coffee. It was delicious and incredibly filling. Six o'clock would normally find
us in the Rock with a Caiparina or Cuba Libre or two and we have to confess
to completely overdoing it one night.
The day started with us arriving back from Isabella
where I almost got fried. More later. We had met a couple of young couples
one Paraguayan and Swedish, Liliana and Fredrik, and one Equadorian, Max and
Andrea while visiting Isabella. Naturally we invited them out to Rhiann Marie
for lunch on our return to Santa Cruz. This was a wonderful lunch accompanied by
lovely wine and cold beers, but it went on well into the afternoon and
almost joined up to our standing order at the Rock. Unfortunately for our
friends from Songline this is where we met them having not seen them
since Shelter Bay - we think we made a poor
impression........ we will do better next
Anyway back to Isabella. I have been "done over" a
couple of times on this trip so far by taxis and vendors taking advantage of us
as tourists but I decided early on that on the odd time this happened I would
not get overly stressed about it and just go with the flow. Generally the
rip off is only for a few dollars so no point getting too annoyed about it. On
the Isabella trip we were supposed to be booked into a reasonable little hotel.
However when we go there it was not what we were shown on the brochure and we
were put up in very basic rooms with none of the facilities we were supposed to
have. No problem I thought, it's comfortable and there is air conditioning, so I
am not going to make a fuss. Standing outside the room (on the dirt road) I
noted that the wiring was exposed on the wall - this should have been a
Later on I stepped in the shower and the unit
above my head gave a pop and water started flowing out the side of the shower
head but not out the bottom. I put my hand up to see if I could relocate the
shower rose only to get 110V shooting down my left arm through the water!
Anyway they were very nice about it and said they would get an electrician
- at least I think that is what they said. Needless to say Trish showered in a
neighbours room! The trip to Isabella was really enjoyable and we hiked up into
the mountains to a volcano for an hour or two where we picked up horses and rode
these along the rim of the crater which is the largest active volcano crater in
the world. (Ngorro Ngorro in Africa is the largest but it is not active.) After
an hour or so riding we switched back to foot and hiked to another smaller
crater before returning to pick up our horses to head back down the
mountain. This was a great trip, so compensated for the near death
experience in the shower!
We have seen so much wild and marine life and
fantastic jungle, active volcanos and deserted tropical islands, reefs alive
with all kinds of marine life and many beautiful and exotic birds
(including the feathered type) that I think we (still) live in a wonderful world
even though occassionally someone does not play the game.
I can say to you my friends "the weather is great
wish you were here" but I had to say to someone else last week "weather is here, wish you were