First week in Galapagos
16 February 2012 | San Cristobal, Galapagos
Jonathan & Heather
It's already been almost a week since we motored into Wreck Bay, here in San Cristobal. Time has certainly flown and we feel like we've done all we wanted to do here now. Unfortunately we can't move on because there's a public holiday which means all of the banks are closed, and we need a little cash to be getting on with. So we plan to head off to Isla Isabella tomorrow (Wednesday) evening for a few days before the official dinners and parties start in Santa Cruz (Academy Bay) for the next leg to Hiva Oa.
Wreck Bay has been wonderful, mostly for the abundance of wildlife. We did a tour last Friday on a motor boat to various snorkeling locations. We have some excellent shots of sea lions playing under water at very close quarters, and a great little movie of one of those under water iguanas eating their seaweed. I say "their", and by them I mean the fish. It seems the fish actually go to the trouble of cultivating the seaweed, sort of like small scale farmers, then the iguanas stomp in and eat the fruits of their labours. It's amazing to see how the fish bite and butt the iguana as he feasts on their farmed produce; he just bats them off or shrugs a shoulder to keep them our of his ears. We've seen some wonderful birdlife too - the blue footed booby really does have very blue feet!
At our anchorage here in the bay we can see right to the bottom in 9 metres of water. Yesterday we saw a sea lion separate a fish from the school (they seem to congregate in the shade under the boats) and chase it to the rocks and sand at the bottom. He caught the fish before our eyes and swam back up to the top holding it victoriously in his mouth; then he munched it down and started looking for another.
The sea lions seem to run the town here. They lounge about all day on the public wharf, the footpaths and the street furniture giving the whole place a distinctly agricultural smell, if you know what I mean. It's quite surreal to see a load of local kids playing in water at the local beach, and just a few feet away a group of sea lions frolic in a similar way. The little pups suckling are gorgeous, but the big ones tend to growl and gnash a bit if you get too close. Touching any of the wildlife here is quite rightly prohibited. The noise they make at night can be quite monotonous as they bark for ages sometimes, just like dogs when they get a bit territorial. I wonder if they are nocturnal because they seem to spend all day lounging around town (and on people's swim platforms at the back of their boats) and all night barking. Ruby even had one climb onto their bimini (the roof over their cockpit) and make a sea lion hammock of the fabric structure. A few well-placed punches woke him up and eventually moved him off, although I doubt the bimini will ever be quite the same again.
Yesterday we went on a tour to the small lake in the main volcano on this island (apparently there are over 2,000 volcanoes in the Galapagos, although most are tiny). We also went to the tortoise breeding sanctuary and to a beach on the far side of the island. We were joined by the guys from Peat Smoke, so in all there were 5 of us. Heather and I rode in the tray on the back of the 4-door ute which seems to be ubiquitous here. It was a fun ride up to the lake, but then the heavens opened on us as we walked around the lake. It absolutely bucketted down with rain for the next hour or so, which made us all soaked through, but it also cooled us all down nicely. It has been very hot and humid here, so the rain was a welcome relief. By the time we reached the tortoise sanctuary the rain had stopped, and we saw most of the fully grown tortoises there as we arrived at feeding time. We also had a walk around the cages containing the babies - from little 1-year olds about the size of a computer mouse up to their only 6-year old which was about 600mm long. They feed them well and they all seemed very happy to splash about in their ponds. They did remind us of our tortiose in Dubai, Norman - all the same mannerisms, just on a much larger scale.
Today we will head for Darwin Bay (where he was supposed to have landed first to find fresh water - there is even a rather surreal fibreglass statue standing there) to do a bit of snorkelling. After that we may trawl the many gift shops that line the main street for souvenirs. They really do some brilliant t-shirts, although I think I will scream if I see another ''I love Boobies'' one. This morning we had breakfast on deck watching the sea lions pass, and two - what seemed - amorous sea turtles