Sunday, March 31, 2019

Santa Cruz, Galápagos

We left our hostel at 5:30am for our 9:30am flight to Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos. It took about 40 minutes to reach the airport. We were told to go early because lineups for extra luggage checks to Galápagos are long due to them checking for banned food, plant and animal products to this protected area.

We flew through the lineup and when we went to our airline booth they asked if we wanted our flights changed from the 9:30am flight to the 7:00am flight. Yes Please!

We moved quickly through security and almost immediately boarded the plane. We were seated near the front beside one of the exits so lots of legroom.

After about 30 minutes, our flight landed in Guayaquil, people got off, the cleaners cleaned and people got on.
Unfortunately a very loud talking man was sitting kitty cross from us. He did not shut up the whole flight. He seemed to have a long winded opinion about everything. The lady beside me and I agreed that we were both happy not to be sitting with him. I wish I hadn’t buried my ear plugs so deep in my backpack.

Upon exiting the plane on the tarmac we spotted our first animal, an iguana, on the short walk into the airport terminal.

I could feel the heat as soon as I got off the plane.

In addition to paying a $20 US transit fee to travel to the Galápagos you also must pay $100 US each upon arriving. This money goes to help pay the costs of protecting the islands.
We had to wait for our luggage while the sniffing dog checked for contraband products. They are rightfully protective of this precious environment and its inhabitants.

The airline broke one of the handles off our suitcase. I didn’t want to waste time complaining. I was there to see animals.

The land around the airport was dry and scrubby. Perfect iguana habitat. John and I wondered how they kept the iguanas from wandering onto the runway.

The airport is on the island of Baltra so to get to Santa Cruz you need to pay $5 each for a bus that takes you to a ferry which costs $1 US each and then once on the island of Santa Cruz it’s $25 US for a taxi into town. While disembarking the ferry I noticed a small sea lion playing in the water. There was also puffer fish along with other fish.

Our cab driver drove us (about 40 minutes) into the town of Puerto Ayora. As we drive from the north side to the south side of the island we noticed that there was much more vegetation in the south.

Our accomodations, Hostel Espana checked us in early. There was a small swimming pool and fountain in the courtyard and many sitting areas for people to use the internet which is a bit hit or miss in the Galápagos.

We went for a walk in the hot afternoon sun. It was Sunday so a lot of places were closed. The water in the bay was a vibrant tuquoisey-teal colour. We walked on a boardwalk and an adorable brown pelican had no problem sharing the view with me. Poor guy looked like someone had taken a chunk out of his head...loser in a pelican fight?

We slowly walked (for me it was more like dragging) ourselves over to the Charles Darwin Station, passing a picturesque cemetery along the way. I saw lots of lizards. We did the tortoise walk at the Station and saw many tortoises from baby’s to young adults that were under protection until they were released back into he wild. 

One little guy was walking and fell over onto his side. He kept wiggling his little legs to right himself, would tire out and then try again. I was getting ready to find someone to go in and flip him back when he finally managed to on his own.

We learned all about Lonesome George the last Pinzon tortoise, Darwin’s finches, Galápagos conservation efforts and much more. 

We made our way back into the port, checked out the bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs and looked to the sky where we saw a few blue footed boobies and frigate birds.

After looking into a few different cruise tours, we went back to our hostel to get out of the sun and figure out our supper plans.

At sunset we bought a couple drinks and settled at the dock to watch the view. We watched the frigates and brown penguins dive headfirst into the water for their supper.

Some small iguanas soaked up the day’s warmth from a cement wall.

But the magic was really coming from the water. After sunset, the water at the bottom of the dock was lit up, allowing us to see many white tipped sharks, schools of stingrays, a sea turtle and a sea lion. Just hints of the wonders to come over the next couple of weeks.

We ended the night with a delicious supper of lobster (me) and shrimp (John). Although it looked yummy, John and I didn’t eat our salads because it was probably washed in tap water.

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