Saturday, October 3, 2009


We got up super early, yet again, for our flight to the Galapagos from Quito.  What to say about the Galapagos?  It was amazing.  I'm not going to go into a day-by-day posting of our time there, since the days were all pretty much the same - we would get up, go for a hike with the naturalist on one of the islands, go snorkeling, eat lunch, go on another hike or snorkel, eat dinner, and go to bed while cruising to another island.  Repeat for five days.

Our boat was called the "Aida Maria" and held sixteen passengers, although there were only twelve of us on it for this cruise.  There were a scottish couple, an Israeli mother and daughter, a Swiss couple, an Austrian couple, and two young German girls.  Since there were two tables in the dining cabin, our group divided into the English speakers (us, Scots, and the Israelis) and the German speakers. There was also a naturalist, Ruben, who was our main liaison with the crew.  There were about five other crew members, but they kept to themselves, so it was kind of hard to tell exactly how many there were.  Overall, the food was great - in fact, the cook seemed to be the hardest working man on the boat.  Our "bartender" was by all accounts the most surly man every to be involved in the service industry anywhere in the world.  Part of this may have been due to the fact that the boat had absolutely no alcohol on board.  Usually, the ships make lots of money by selling booze to passengers (the only part not included in the price of the cruise).  However, the crew had apparently partied really hard the night before leaving and forgot to stock the boat with booze.  It seems that our crew had become the laughing stock of all of the other boats - as we we passed other boats, the crew members would yell out things, point to their refrigerators, make drinking motions with their hands, etc.

Anyway, we weren't their for the booze (as we all kept telling ourselves during dinner), but for the wildlife.  It was amazing.  The sea lions on the beach were oblivious to your presence.  You could literally get within inches of them (although we were told to keep a distance of two meters at all times).  Same with birds - we saw Boobies (Blue Footed and Nazca), Flamingoes, Albatross, Frigate birds, Gulls, Finches, and many others.  We saw iguanas - both land and sea ones.  While snorkeling we saw sharks, turtles, rays, and all sorts of colorful fish.  Also while snorkeling, the baby sea lions would swim up to you and play endlessly  - darting up and down, heading towards you, only to swerve away at the last minute.  It was amazing.

The only down side was the long haul between the islands.  They did them at night, so we wouldn't waste precious time during the day.  We did three of the islands (with small ones in between), but the distance between them was about a 7 hour boat ride.  This time of the year, the sea are pretty rough.  The first night, Allegra got pretty sick.  We did, however, learn two things after this: 1) always take seasick medication BEFORE you eat and 2) try to stay away from strawberry jello on rough seas.  After that night, though, things were not quite as bad.

We had a great time and wished we had more time to go to the other islands - especially the ones that had penguins and whales.  Next time.

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