Last Day in Isabela
07 June 2008 | Isabela
It was our last day in Isabela and we had no real plan other than getting our ships documents and passports back. It was a lazy morning and we all slept in. I did manage to get up at 8AM to listen in on the PanPacific Net.
Nothing exiting on the net. Trades are blowing, one boat has 10 knots from the southeast, one boat has 15, and another 20. Everyone has 1 to 2 meter swell from the southwest. This is pretty much what you seem to get in June from the Galapagos to the Marquisas. We heard friends on Tuppenny and La Danseuse (who left this anchorage yesterday) check in and everyone seems to be having a great passage.
After the net we all headed in for breakfast and another session with the Capitania. It is a new moon and low tide at 9AM is very low. We took a long sweep around the bay which is our favorite route anyway because it goes by the penguins. There's nothing like penguins to brighten your morning on an overcast day.
We tied shooting star up at the base of the floating platform by the gazebo on the inside of the marina and began hiking into town. On the way in we ran across the sergeant. I told him we wanted to pay and head out and he said he'd meet us at the Capitania in a bit.
We continued on our way to the Hotel Abermarle where we meet the British owner, his lovely Ecuadorian wife and their 10 day old baby! There were just back from Quito with the little one. Marco the chef and ad hoc hotel manager was getting a day off though so we would have to find comida elsewhere. The owner recommended a place around the corner called La Choza.
La Choza is a typical Galapagos eatery. The only person in the place when we arrived was the owner. She was very friendly and set us a table. They didn't have a breakfast menu but she made us perfect eggs over easy (believe it or not this is hard to come by), nice fresh bread with margarine and jam, juice and coffee. The coffee was instant and mixed with hot milk to your taste at the table. Not something you would probably choose in connoisseur mode but when in need in the AM passable. The juice, like all juices we have found in Ecuador, was fresh squeezed and wonderful. La Choza has a neat vibe with an old wooden bar and tree stump seats, tables settled in lava rock and an open air style canvas roof above.
After a lovely and relaxed breakfast we crossed the street to the Capitania. Fortunately our friend Michelle was there as well trying to clear out. I think they paid maybe $130 total but they speak Spanish. So far they haven't paid Johnny Romero but I have a feeling they may have to. We got hit for a total of $300 to the Capitania ($23 more than in San Cristobal) and $50 for Johnny Romero, though Johnny went for $100 at first. So San Cristobal cost us almost $500 (largely due to the $150 agent fee to Carmella, Johnny's sister, and the small additional fees for immigration) and Isabela cost us $350. $850 is a lot to pay to visit two anchorages.
Given it to do over I think I would probably repeat, the Galapagos are a pretty amazing experience. If I had to choose one island I would definitely choose Isabela. Isabela is huge, quiet, completely safe, and full of very natural wildlife. The creatures in Isabela can be witnessed in a very pristine setting compared to the much more inhabited island of San Cristobal. Today for instance, as the sun set, we watched a huge squadron of perhaps 50 Boobies dive bombing a school of fish in the bay. Over and over they plunged one after another at amazing speeds right into the bay. Isabela has active volcanoes and higher peaks to explore than anywhere else in the Galapagos. The beach just west of town is spectacular and wonderful to walk on at sunset, the list goes on.
After wrapping up with the Capitania we caught a cab to the Galapaguera. The Galapaguera turtle hatchery on Isabela has many more turtles than the facility on San Cristobal and hosts several varieties of the giant tortoises. The facility sits at the end of a wonderful path that leads from town back trough the brackish swaps that support many Galapagos birds including Flamingos. After thoroughly enjoying the turtles we hiked back into town still enchanted by the lagoons and birds on our third trip through.
We looked around in some stores as we made our way to the marina but didn't find much of anything except three cold Coca Colas. The stores here have only the most basic of necessities. Small light bulbs and specialized batteries were out of the question. We did however find the Iguanamen CD we were looking for. They were being sold out of a small hotel on the beach that I think on of the Iguanamen owns. We first heard the Iguanamen at the little bar on the quay off of the center of town. Smooth Galapagos acoustic blues. Good stuff.
Back at the big boat we put on the Iguanamen as a light rain, Garua in local speak, began to fall. Andres came by in the Pulpo Tours boat to say high. We talked about our travels and looked over charts of the South Pacific together. Andres is a very nice young man and would be a good choice for a guide while in Isabela. After Andre left Nobu and I scrubbed up the outside of the boat while Hideko set about cooking various tasty smelling things.
One of the things Hideko made was a loaf of Banana break for Mary's birthday. Mary and Michelle were going to have to stay until at least Monday when the local doctor would either sign off on little Adrian's cough or they would have to start considering a flight to the mainland. The three of them came over to our boat for a celebration and we all drank champagne and wished Mary a happy birthday.
It was a wonderful day but as we shut down for the night we were all excited about setting off for French Polynesia.