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Cecilia is an Italian friend of Expatclic, who has lived in Egypt before arriving in Ecuador, where she currently lives with her husband and son. She recently made a cruise to the Galapagos Islands, and in this fascinating article she tells us about this natural paradise…. thank you Cecilia !!!

On January 4th, 07 my husband Maurizio, my son Daniele -13 – and me, Ceci, sailed for the one-life-trip, the Galapagos Islands. Having previously decided to join the 5 days cruise, we arrived at the island of Baltra by plane, directly from Quito, Ecuador where we live, quite excited and immediately grouped with our cruise companions to bordering the ship. Immediately we realized that this cruise would have been extremely hectic, due to the number of things to do and to see… no chance to loose time wandering around! As a matter of fact after a few minutes everybody was on board, we were sailing to our first close destination, Bartolome Island, were each group would have had a wet disembark to see the legendary bay where Master and Commander was shot: an amazing view up to 350 stairs of the Galapagos islands, sandy white beaches and mangroves. I guess our guide, Alex, an accomplished marine biology, was testing us to judge the one who can easily climb all those stairs and who doesn’t! Our group was without doubt incredibly athletic. There was a family from Berkeley, California, with 2 college kids, a family from Vancouver, Canada, with 2 middle school kids and the 3 of us.

Galapagos2-2Let me go back to the wet disembark. It means that you’re asked to jump off the Zodiac with your back pack full of the most posh and pricey electronic devices, the water at your knees and head to the beach! We soon got accustomed to the all safety procedures and were coming off shore like old sailors, gathering the life jacket into the big blue bag. Amazingly no one dropped into the water!
After the hike we were granted with a refreshing snorkeling… a bit too refreshing in my opinion, as we jumped into our wet suits for the second of the most astonishing snorkel of our lives: soon after we were able to spot giant water turtles and sea lions playing with us in the water and to my son’s utmost bliss, Galapagos penguins were staring at us from the rock, drying them up in the almost sunset light! Unbelievable! On these islands, animals are not afraid of humans, you can get so close to them; even though it’s better not trying to touch them, and forbidden too, as they start to produce weird sounds of disappointment that leave no doubt on who’s the owner of the territory! Daniele also developed an unusual talent to imitate sea lions sounds!

Back on board. 1 hour to shower, enjoy your drink around the pool, briefing on the following day and finally a gorgeous dinner a-la-carte that left everybody satisfied.
Everyday was pretty the same. After a luscious breakfast, each group (we were the boobies! Let’s give it up for!) came in turn ashore with the Zodiacs, dry or wet landing, visit the island, shoot Alex with the most incredible and absurd questions on Darwin, Flora and Fauna, came back for a succulent and assorted buffet lunch, take a short nap or just lay back on the bridge, then back off shore to visit another island, snorkel with the animals and take tons of pics! Then dinner, briefing, evening show and at last a good sound sleep.

 

A red spitting crab

A red spitting crab

One of the most amazing spot is definitely Punta Espinosa on Fernandina Island: an astonishing concentration of stern water iguanas, red spitting crabs, staring penguins and lazy sea lions, all living on the same territory of black Pa-hoe-hoe lava, fighting and mating in this misty, flat and windy, kind of magic plateau: you can actually stumble on them… so… pay attention!
As the three of us are a confluence hunters, one night we asked Captain Cesar if it was possible to go on the Bridge to take picture of the GPS while we were crossing Lat 0′ – Long 91′ – see web site www.confluence.org. We were called with a code message on the interphone “Latitude zero, longitude 91, please dial zero”, I guess the other passengers were kind of puzzled by that odd message!

 

...that leaves no doubt about who is the owner of the territory!

…that leaves no doubt about who is the owner of the territory!

As the days were passing, a sort of comradeship developed between us and the others “sailors”, we got to know each other on our free time or while we were on the Zodiac, or with the rest of the Italians.
We visited a total of 5 islands checking on so many outstanding and fascinating animals like the blue footed Boobies, the graceful flamingos, the unusual giant manta, the cute hammer baby shark (I’m still not sure if Mom was in the surrounding!!) and last but not least the Lonely George, the very last turtle of his sub-specie!
How can I leave Galapagos without an even though tiny shopping spree? Porto Ayora is a nice village, with colorful one storey houses, fancy boutiques and delicious coconut juice, which we sipped directly from the nuts while doing a little local people watching… after all those animals…

Back to Quito, we all felt like we were gently still rolling, lulled by the waves… does it means we are now seasoned sailors or it was just the memory of the ultimate trip?

For more information on the Galapagos Islands: www.galapagosecuador.com and www.kleintours.com

Cecilia
Quito, Ecuador
May 2007

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