Floreana, Espanola and a sad farewell in San Cristobal.
24.06.2011 - 28.06.2011 27 °C
We have been home since June 29th and I am writing this on August 7th - shame on me. The sad truth is that we have to remind ourselves that we ever went away - 'real life' catches up with you way too fast and suddenly here we are, on the day following the riots that occured ten minutes away throughout last night. A sad day in London. What better time to return to the Galapagos Islands and remind ourselves of an amazing adventure. And for those still interested - to share a last few photos with you.
We had travelled through our second night on the boat to Floreana - also known as Santa Maria (to the Spanish) and Charles (to the English - can't imagine who they named that after). We went for a two hour hike in the morning on Cormorant Point....didn't see any cormorants strangely but we did see the following:
We finished the walk on the beach where we played dodge the stingray as troops of them swept along the shoreline (OK - what is the collective noun for a bunch of stingray?)
We headed back to the boat for snacks, have to say we were well fed on this trip, and Anouska spent a good hour watching the frigate birds and trying to get the perfect shot. The big red chest/chin/protusion is the males way of saying that he's looking for sex - isn't nature grand!
We spent the latter part of the morning snorkelling in the Devil's Crown - an old volcanic crater under the water. Writing retrospectively, I can say that this was the coolest snorkelling we did in the Galapagos. It was quite scary which added to the thrill and we saw turtles, sharks, eagle and sting rays as well as a plethora of fish. It also gave us a chance to be wowed by the skills of Hansel, our guide - as an ex navy seal, his free diving skills were awesome and he put them to good use to make sure we all got to see as much as possible.
The afternoon was spent around the other side of the island in Post Office Bay, so called because it is used as a drop off and collection point for mail - historically and to this day.
We went to the bay, postcards in hand and opened that barrel. We then removed all the postcards and went through them to see if we could take any with us to deliver upon our return to our hometowns. Once that is done, you place your own postcards with the remainder and leave them for the next boat. This shit works people! We have distributed three postcards since we returned - and Noush's sister received hers within a week of us being home - in Potton....who even knows where that is???
After more snorkelling we returned to the boat to watch the sunset and get ready for dinner. Hansel had promised us a slideshow of about 500 photos which of course we were all massively excited about. It unfortunately had to be cancelled due to a display of local nature Attenborough would have been proud of. The local flying fish had decided that the light off the back of the boat was a reason to commit hari kari and the excitment had brought about 30 galapagos sharks and numerous sea lions out to play. Interestingly, the sharks eat the sea lions but they were all about the flying fish that night. Every time a fish would skim the water towards the boat it would create a frenzy of activity - it made great TV but unfortunately lousy photos as it was so dark. A turtle even popped up in the middle of it to see what the fuss was about but decided that it was way too boisterous for his tastes and disappeared.
See - rubbish.
Day 4 was our last full day in the Galapagos and we spent it on the island of Espanola (English name: Hood). We were excited about the morning's excursions in Punta Suarez as this was where all the sea birds lived and we had seen blue footed boobies diving magnificently but nothing up close yet. It was an amazing morning - it smelt like bloody hell and looked like there was snow everywhere, such was the quantity of bird shit but ......wow. Hope the photos of these beautiful creatures do them justice.
The name boobie comes from the Spanish 'bobo' which means stupid. They thought the birds were stupid because they didn't run away when man arrived on the islands and consequently were easy prey. Interestingly, blue footed boobies can see black, white and blue. Red footed boobies can see in black, white and red - for identification purposes. Brill!
The other boobies on the island were masked boobies. Although the powers that be have decided that on this island they are called Nazca Boobies - don't recall if it's a different name or a different species.
Their mating ritual involves the male giving the female presents - bits of stone, bits of twig - he's a charmer.
Another prominent bird species on the island is the albatross. A species that mates for life and where the males are incharge of egg incubation. In the heat in the Galapagos, a neglected egg can quickly cook so the males are vigilant in their duty. And beautiful. And their mating dance is similar to Axl Rose's famous move.
While on this side of the island we also saw the following creatures...
We spent the afternoon snorkelling and hanging out with the sea lions in Gardener Bay. It might sound like it was repetitive but believe me, it doesn't feel that way at all. These views and this proximity to nature is mindblowing and every second of it felt like a blessing.
One last gratuitous sea lion shot!
Mother nature I salute you. The Galapagos Islands are without a doubt one of my favourite places on earth. Not without their own troubles but it appears to me that the Ecuadorian government and people are doing a great job of preserving Darwin's muse.
And that was that - we had a lovely final evening with our new nautical amigos and the next day we flew out of San Cristobal (English name: Chatham). We had a day back in Quito where we did nothing but pack and sunbathe and then we headed home. 6 months and three days after we had departed.
I will finish with showing you a drawing that Anouska worked on as we travelled around South America - a roughly geographical representation of our experiences. It's amazing.
So this is 2 birds, 9 countries, 6 languages, 78 accomodations, 2 computers, I camera and 1 blog signing off. Ciao ciao. X