Galapagos Islands Journals

A Million Boobies and a Destroyed Environment

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An April 2007 trip to Galapagos Islands by Shady Ady

Tortuga Bay Wildlife Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador More Photos
Quote: A day by day account of my once in a lifetime trip to the richly divers lands of the Galapagos, made famous by Charles Darwin.

Day 1 - Baptism of Fire

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Pelican Bay - Santa Cruz Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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After being promised a free holiday by a University to the Galapagos Islands, in return for 6 months of teaching, a promise that never materialized 6 months later, I decided to try my luck and go independently. Normally this would be very easy to arrange with the ridiculous number of tour operators lining the main streets around Avenida Amazonas in the La Mariscal district of Quito, but deciding to go the following day after being told the bad news by the University, a place I have decided to no longer work at, and having no flight, accommodation or trips lined up, I was expecting a tough time making my dream become a reality.I shouldn't have been so pessimistic. The following day I was baskin...Read More

Day 2 - New Beginning

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Tortuga Bay Wildlife Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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The heat in the Galapagos is quite unbearable at first, especially having a room without air-conditioning and just a small fan to keep the temperature down. The cheapskate that I am, I wasn't really prepared to pay extra for something that can easily be coped without, and anyway, the restless night I enjoyed gave me much time to reflect on something I had been planning for a long, long time, and if all went well today I would unleash this plan of mine on my, hopefully, unsuspecting girlfriend.Not having any day trips planned we decided to go for a walk to the nearby beach of Tortuga Bay, one of the few places you can venture inside the national park without a guide. Al...Read More

Day 3 - Same Old Faces

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The Galapagos Tortoise - Santa Cruz Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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Today was supposed to see the first of our day trips away from Santa Cruz, but late into the night I received a knock at the door and was regrettably informed that it had been cancelled due to engine trouble. Of course I was a little annoyed and upset, as I was rather excited. Luckily though the day was saved with a very early Sunday morning stroll down Calle Charles Darwin, where an enquiry in the only tour operator open, the aptly named Charles Darwin Tour Operator changed the course of the day. Within minutes two half day tours had been booked, firstly the Santa Cruz Highland Tour ($30) and then in the afternoon, the Bay Tour ($25), also of Santa Cruz. To be completely honest...Read More

Day 4 - A Million Maggots

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Birdlife - Isla Seymour Norte Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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Today was billed as one of the highlights of any Galapagos trip. After the previous days disappointment, I wasn't holding my breath at the high expectations people were talking about for this. This trip our guide energetically discussed, to the nearby island of Seymour Norte, a ninety minute journey from Canal Itabaca on Santa Cruz would allow us to see both the infamous frigate bird, with their swollen red balloon necks, and, the blue footed boobies with their crazy dancing routines to attract the ladies. The guide divulged that normally such scenes of love and affection are saved until the months of April at the earliest, but this year they started early. If all I did was fly and eat, then I wo...Read More

Day 5 - Battered Body

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Pinnacle Rock - Isla Bartolome Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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Recent days had seen many early starts, so having to be ready for 5.30am for the day trip to Bartolome island wasn't a problem, and as my eyes had been bulging with excitement all night long, solely on the prospect of seeing the cold water Galapagos penguin, something of an oddity in these waters, so far north of the traditional penguin stomping grounds.It's amazing how dead Santa Cruz is at such an early hour, only a few local fisherman down by the dock. Even the police manning the 'rigorous' stop points on the only road through the island were nowhere to be seen. Halfway through this cross-island journey a stop at The Royal Palm Hotel was made, nestled in a seclusive area of the highland env...Read More

Day 6 - Screwed

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Isla Daphne Major Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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During my time in Ecuador I have woken up on many a morning with the taste of rotten egg burps protruding from my mouth, a sure sign that little parasites are waging a war on my stomach. Imagine my surprise when waking up on this fine cloudless morning and having the taste of cerviche in my mouth instead. Definitely an improvement. I'm still not sure whether cerviche, seafood in citrus juices, complimented with a salsa of tomatoes and onions and a side of plantain chips tickles my taste buds, but I still seem to get through my fair share.Another early start was needed today for another day trip this time to Isla Daphne Major. This trip was rearranged from the previous weekend and it ...Read More

Day 7 - Lonesome George

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Lonesome George - Charles Darwin Research Station - Santa Cruz  Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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It was nice to finally have a day where I was one dictating the pace and not having to follow any schedules. With the bright morning sun and refreshing breeze blowing through the hotels painless windows, there was no chance of sleeping in. My girlfriend on the other hand could have slept until the sun went down. Seeing an opportunity to earn a few brownie points I sneaked out to surprise her with breakfast in bed. Luckily the only supermarket in town was open.Arriving at the supermarket and picking up an extortionately priced bag of eggs I somehow managed to slip on the smooth floor and crash head first against one of the freezers, crushing the eggs against my body. Losing my ba...Read More

Day 8 - Rotting Flesh

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Land Iguanas - Isla Plaza Norte Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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One thing noticed during my time on the Galapagos is the ridiculously high living standards people have compared to the mainland, and especially the Ecuadorian sierra where I have been living for the past eight months. It's the norm for sierra inhabitants to have stained, chipped brown teeth and enough cavities and fillings to set off any airport metal detector. On the Galapagos, all teeth are pure diamond white and perfectly straight. If not then braces are fixing the problem. Also missing in the Galapagos are the trademark female pot bellies. Instead women walk around with perfectly toned stomachs and they aren't afraid to show them off either. In Ecuador, the lack of bad teeth and pot bellies ...Read More

Day 9 - Bare Foot

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Playa los Alemanes - Puerto Ayora Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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It's a good job today was free of day trips, as for the second time during a short Galapagos vacation, several hours had to be wasted at the offices of TAME, this time to reconfirm my flight. Not doing this can lead to your seat being given to another lucky passenger, making you pay the full cost for another flight a day later. It doesn't really sound fair to me.After wasting half the morning doing this, my girlfriend and I finally started our day, catching a water taxi across the heaving Academy Bay, passing stationed boats covered in sleeping sea lions. After disembarking from the boat, a five minute stroll saw us reach our first port of call, the beach of Los Alemanes, opposite the Finch Ba...Read More

Days 10 & 11 - Childhood Memories

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Pelican Bay - Puerto Ayora Photo, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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It's amazing how time flies by when you keep yourself busy. Thanks to the incompetence of TAME airlines, I now had an extra day to enjoy the Galapagos before returning to reality and the life of an English teacher. Apart from scuba diving, which I have never tried in my life, the options of tours and trips from Santa Cruz had been exhausted and I thought a fitting tribute would be to return to Tortuga Bay, the spot where I had proposed to my girlfriend just over a week earlier. To be honest though, my reason for venturing here, was not to reflect on what should be one of the biggest stepping stones of my life, but for the very childish reason of wanting to jump through the waves, something I...Read More