Galapagos day 5, off the ship

I got involved in my book last night, and in my itch. I’d been noticing a growing rash on my left thigh and on my chest, and these were really bugging me last night. Around 02:00, at the end of my book, I realized what it was. My body had been in the same sheets for several days, and I had rashes on the areas that came in contact with the bottom sheet. I was probably allergic to whatever detergent they used. So I slept on my other side and on my back, and the itch was a little less. Then I slept.

However, waking up at 07:00 again was torture.

It felt like a last morning. Everyone was subdued and the idea of leaving the comforts of the Santa Cruz seemed an insurmountable difficulty. We’d have to locate our own food and transportation! No one would be caring that my black coffee was already waiting for me when I returned from the breakfast buffet to my table! I will miss Ramiro, my usual waiter, who chased other waiters away when they tried to hand me the normal meals. He’d come running with my special pimiento-free meals. Always a smile and always my coffee before I could ask. Really nice.

So we had that last breakfast, vacated our rooms, and gathered in the salon bar for a slide show of photos and videos of ourselves this week. After the show, some of us went up to the top of the ship to enjoy the last views from the ship. By the way, here’s the route our ship has taken these 5 days.

And then it was time to climb into the pangas for shore on Baltras Island, where the airport is. We sped to a dry dock, clambered onto a bus which took us to the airport, then grabbed our luggage, climbed back onto the bus, and left our fellow travelers and guides behind.

The bus took us to the canal crossing for Santa Cruz Island, which was short and easy, then we were approached by many taxi drivers. However, since the bus would cost us a dollar, and a taxi $18, we preferred to wait for the bus. This irritated the taxi drivers, who tried to explain to us how much better they were. In the end, a police captain on his way back to town offered us a lift for free. His name was Alex Ramirez, and he’s from Esmeraldas province, near the beginning of his one year term of working in Galapagos. He was very nice and explained many things to us along the way.

Since he’s new to the island, himself, he had no idea where to find our hotel. Streets may have names, but they don’t have signs, so that didn’t help. Eventually, even Alex got frustrated. At that time, however, the next person he asked pointed to a building just behind us. We had arrived!

Prices at Casa de Judy were more than double what we expected from the guidebook. When we looked aghast, she gave us a small discount, but even so it was pricey. We accepted for one night and thought we’d find something else. In the end we didn’t, so will stay there both nights. Our room is 102a, just behind the staircase beside the pool.

We went into our room and, exhausted, fell fully clothed onto the bed. It was only about 11:00. We slept until about 14:30.

Eventually we woke, sweaty and still tired. We hadn’t turned on the airco before we slept. We showered, applied sunscreen, and headed off to see the breeding grounds for giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Center, just downhill from our hotel. Matt will be submitting this monument as a potential Ingress portal.

It was hot. Really hot. We were dripping sweat in seconds. But even so, the information at the center was really interesting. There were displays about the Galapagos ecosystem, and there were the breeding grounds themselves.

We saw baby tortoises of varying ages, in pens with signs noting what island they came from and when they were born.

In another larger pen, they were learning skills like climbing. There seemed to be several ages mixed in this one.

Apparently, the adult tortoises weren’t bothered by the heat. This fellow was pretty persistent, while his girlfriend occasionally wandered off snacking. He’d just clamber back on.

And here’s the actual research station, although we didn’t go inside. I’d read in the guidebook that tourists are requested to not go in and bother the scientists. A peek inside revealed offices, no visitor information.

There were also a few pens with land iguanas, but we’ve seen more of them in the wild, where they’re far more interesting.

We were almost the only people there, and the heat was intense. We walked out to the road and hailed a taxi, a 4-wheel drive extended cab truck, to take us the very short way back to the pier in town, just to be out of the heat for a few minutes.

We ended up backtracking most of that anyway, looking for souvenirs and then lunch, but we still felt better. We watched boats from a little pier where the fish market is, and a few small rays then a giant manta ray went by. This guy was over a meter across! And he swam right below me!

Since we had lunch at 17:00 or so, it was also kind of dinner. After eating, we did more of the same, had cocktails at a bar, then picked up our clean laundry and returned to the hotel. And a swim! Then we showered and slept. Again! Did I mention we are exhausted?

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Location:Puerta Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador