Ecuador, Galapagos, Home!
Day 126 31 May, 2011
We didn’t move too much today. We decided that after three weeks on the move we deserved a day of rest. We also had to do research for C’s Melbourne university interview.
We did manage to get to the gym and have a swim and we had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Day 127 1 June, 2011
We met our group in the lobby and were driven to the airport. Sometimes it’s good to pay that extra money - we had a guide doing all the work in getting our boarding passes and paying the taxes which was great as the airport was madness. We literally made it through security and boarded the plane.
Once in the Galapagos we got a bus, boat and mini van to get to our boat. I (W) soon realised that I would need the sea sickness tablets. Our guide kept saying that it was going to get a lot worse!
After lunch we went back to Santa Cruz Island and walked through the Darwin centre. I really didn’t like all of the iguanas on the dock, but everyone else seemed to think it was great.
We saw how their breeding the baby turtles to help the population numbers and got to see ‘Lonesome George’ the last giant tortoise from one particular island. They’ve had two female tortoises in the enclosure with him for 15 years and only in the last two years has there been any eggs – they weren’t fertilized but they’re hopeful he will get the idea soon. Apparently because he lived for 50 years without any females they think he doesn’t know how to use his bits… he lives for up to 170 years so he has time.
We saw heaps of other giant tortoises and got quite close to some.
After exploring the town of Puerto Ayora we went back to our boat and settled in. Dinner was awesome - but did threaten to come back up for a few people when we set sail. The stemitel worked for me but it was still like sleeping in a washing machine.
Day 128 2 June, 2011
We were woken for breaky at 7:00 and headed off on our first dry landing on South Plasas island. There were lots of land iguanas (which I jumped over) and some sea lions that craved attention from photographers. We wandered around the island cactus forest.
Back to the boat and after lunch we dozed while we cruised to Santa Fe Island. Once there went snorkeling which was amazing – the sea lions are very inquisitive and love bubbles so when you dive down they come to see what you’re doing. C managed to get a waterproof case for his camera so he got some amazing photos of them.
Just for fun, W and I started the trend of jumping off the top of the boat (W – I got a massive wedgie).
We then landed on Santa Fe and went for a walk – I think there were more sea lions, iguanas etc.
They seem to feed us every two hours so as C and I were having a drink on the top deck we also got some tasty snacks. Dinner was another feast – but followed by the rocking as we sailed during the night. (C- stemetil may have been used to make sure we slept)
Day 129 3 June, 2011
This morning’s visit was to post office bay on Florena island.
On the island we passed the cranky sea lions to get to the inland lakes. They stink. We saw some very pink flamingoes (let them have the lake). Then we headed to one of the most purest beaches we have ever seen. It is straight from the movies. We had to be careful as the area behind the grass was a turtle nesting ground, you could see the drag marks from previous turtles and we actually saw the cormorant birds hunting (and getting) for little turtles.
Next was snorkeling around the “crown”. It is the remnants of a volcanic event that is now effectively a rock structure sitting out of water that has accumulated really vibrant reefs and subsequently fish.
It was really a bit of swim. We started at one point and then swam around the entire rock formation of about 60m diameter. We then swam through the middle of the crater. We saw really vibrantly coloured fish and a couple of sharks (apparently they are vegetarian).
We continued to swim out further into the ocean hunting for sharks before heading back the best part of 200m back to the boat.
After lunch we headed to another part of the island and landed in a bay and went to explore the island. We saw the infamous “post office box”. The idea is that passing ships pick up mail that was near to where they would berth and deliver it for free. It is mainly a tourist thing these days – we’re expecting our letter to Bear to turn up and we’ve left a surprise for someone who gets to the Galapagos next!
Next we headed down to an old lava tube, it was so dark you could not see in front of your face. Sharing the one remaining torch (out of the four originals) was interesting navigating the trails.
Iater that afternoon the snorkeling was just off the shore line and we came across so many turtles. They really don’t give damn about the humans. We had some fun trying to play follow the leader. W and I discovered, that even with our altitude training, the turtles can hold their breath a lot longer and can swim faster then us.
The ship crew had a good game of soccer against the other boats while we enjoyed the serenity of the beach.
Back to the boat, W and I headed up the top deck and drinks for a beautiful sunset, how can you beat that?
Day 130, 4 June, 2011
The boat cruised over night and we awoke to the anchor getting dropped off shore from Espanola Island. We headed to Punta Suarez and started walking along the cliffs to watch the wildlife, particularly the birds. At the beginning all the seal lions and iguanas were dozing on the beach like the beach was one big party the previous night and they all have hangovers.
The cliff walk showed a huge variety of bird life. W even managed to capture blue footed booby doing its’ mating dance. There various nests from the different species were every where and therefore were the photographers paradise.
Most entertaining was the place they call “albatross airport”, where the birds with the largest wing span I have seen, launch themselves. It is quite funny to see the these creatures extend their wings, get warmed up and then wait for the right gust of wind before jumping off the cliff and then sailing into the sky.
The only disruption was blow hole that erupted with the wave cycles.
At the bay we saw the infamous games the sea lions play with the marine iguanas. The iguanas swim around and then the sea lions decide to chase them. The iguanas rapidly increase their swimming speed, like nitrogen injection increase.
We moved to garner bay and went snorkeling off the shore. There was a real mixture of sea life and then we had to convince ourselves to get back in the water to go shark hunting. The buggers came up right underneath and I swear one winked at me when he showed his teeth. I left them alone very quickly.
Last drinks on the deck, it seems surreal it is all coming to end
Day 131, 5 June, 2011
We got to San Cristobel/ Puerto Baquerizo late in the night and before we know it we are leaving the boat. The town isn’t much, but we still seem to have our sea legs and the world keeps moving! W and I went for good walk and then settled in for some juices at a bar.
We endured the rigmoral of a plane flight via Quayakil, bus in Quito, hotel check-in.
I had an interview for Melbourne so W grilled me for 4hours in prep. Slept well aft the adrenalin rush had worn off.
Day 132, 6 June, 2011
We walked every where today.
We headed off to see some hats, checked out “gringo land” and headed across the city to “Teleferico”, the cable car. We had fun negotiating the roads, but got there in the end. The view was ok, but the clouds were rolling in. We tried a local fruity drink called canalassi that is served with a shot of liquor and very hot.
We stopped by a supermarket and caught a taxi, feeling our feet had done enough work
Day 133, 7 June, 2011
We were so good with our budgeting and then today happened.
W had arranged a tour to the equator, Otvalo markets and town that was renowned for leather goods.
The equator was interesting. There is another monument, but we tried to squeeze as much as possible in and two equator trips seemed a bit much. The sun dial is huge and we were given a really interesting talk about the unique aspects in terms of solstices and astrological views available here in Ecuador.
Next was the markets. There was too much to choose from but our limited space in the bags and the budget getting blown to hell. Oh well, we are coming home soon.
Next was the leather town and Wendy did very well for herself, Westpac will be calling us anytime soon now.
That night we planned to have our final dinner and went to this really nice restaurant call ”sur”. It is renowned for its’ BBQ. Wendy had steak and I had the BBQ selection. They do not waste any portions of beast here, I had to leave some of the “select” cuts on the plate. The kidneys do not taste the same as the way they are prepared in a breakfast creek pie.
We continued on to cool cocktail bar that was themed for the Beatles. Going out in style.
Day 134, 8 June, 2011
We woke up late and repacked the bags for the final time.
After checking out we headed out to get a few final items and explore the old town. We walked to the old town. We saw the observatory and the basilica on the way. The basicllica is massive and has all these gothic like spires, very imposing.
Eventually we found the tourist information and got map to see the area. We found the church “Öf the company of Jesus”. The gilding on the walls was incredible. The nativity displays and artwork carved from wood were very intricate and in some cases very gruesome.
We tried to walk a supposedly famous tourist strip and found one land mark out of seven, the others either closed or no longer existent.
Somehow we managed to get on public bus and started heading home but stopped off for lunch in gringoland and then went hat shopping. We think we have new idea for business, the hats over here are so cheap compared to Australia.
Back to the hotel for swim and shower and final repacking, mainly to fit the hat boxes.
We met some friends for quick dinner at my favorite restaurant, “Hunter’s”, the bbq sauce is incredible.
Of course, we managed to catch a taxi in peak hour and took a lot longer to get to the airport, luckily the taxis are comparatively cheap.
The Airline had our tickets this time! And then we had to wait for 30mins whilst they actually figured how to use the tickets and get our bags to Brisbane. QANTAS we miss you!
Just to top off the flight, we were called by the police to open our bags for inspection in the loading area. No stress at all, just trying to repack & zip a bag after police have searched it, messing up the intricate packing system and having baggage handlers wait for you as you get more zip ties into the zips.
Want to predict how the flight went?
Day 135, 9 June, 2011
We landed very unhappy in Santiago. I think that C dind’t actually wake up until we were in the airport looking for a loo. After working out that there were no ATMs around we changed our last Aussie $$ into some Pesos and went in search of coffee.
We’re now four hours down with about 9 to go…..
There won’t be much more to write after this. We keep asking each other if we think we’ve changed, if we’ll do things differently when we get back and are starting to gear up for what is in store in the next six months.
I think that we’ve confirmed that we’re stronger together, just as much in love as always and we can handle pretty much anything that gets thrown at us. Maybe we have a better understanding of what our role is within our relationship, our strengths and weaknesses, hopefully we are a little more patient and a little more worldy.
We’ve seen the deepest depths of poverty, experienced the friendly acceptance of others and witnessed some of natures most amazing feats. But as it was called this was about life and liberation – I hope that by taking this time out we’ll look a little differently at the routine of every day life, we’ll see beauty in simple things and always remember that there are amazing things out there and everyday life doesn’t need to get in the way of it.
C- what exactly can I add to that? Viva liberation!
Day 136, 10 June, 2011
Today was not meant to happen. Due to a volcano most plane flights were grounded out of santiago. Our plane was delayed until 4.30. but it took off! we are coming home.
Day 137, 12 June, 2011
And yet the bloody volcano does us again. WE had to stop over in Auckland.
Day 138, 13 June, 2011
WE ARE HOME!