Galapagos Islands, Ecuador ~ Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Research Station

Saturday, October 29th ~ Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Harbor town of Puerto Ayora

Harbor town of Puerto Ayora

Day 4 ~ Even on Santa Cruz Island where it is most populated, we are required to take the panga ashore. Todays excursions begin with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and giant tortoise breeding center. Side by side, next to the National Park administration where the two work hand in glove for the preservation of the Galapagos Islands. 

Welcome to the Charles Darwin Center

Welcome to the Charles Darwin Research Station

The breeding program has been very successful and several species have been brought back from the edge of extinction.

Here are a couple different breeds of tortoise which highlight differences.

The first one has a high arch over the neck, which allows the tortoise to raise his head higher. He would be better suited for reaching an elevated food source.

Did you ever wonder what was used for a model for ET?

Did you ever wonder what was used for a model for ET?

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This next breed has a darker shell and smoother around the neck area. They would eat lower vegetation in the wilds.

Darker shell and no saddle hump behind the neck

Darker shell and no saddle hump behind the neck

Mocking bird

Galapagos Mockingbird

Free time followed where Tim and I along with Rica and Fred take the opportunity to slowly walk back toward our meeting point in the center of town. A short stop to pick up a t-shirt, time for a fresh fruit smoothie and then on to what was my favorite stop of the day – the FISH MARKET.

At the fish market

At the fish market

Hopeful expression on the sea lion

Hopeful expression on the sea lion

Although much smaller than other markets we have visited in the past, (the enormous and fascinating fish market in Busan, South Korea comes to mind), this one was teeming with wildlife!

Oh my did the fish mongers have their hands full trying to salvage their catch from the sea lion, heron, and pelicans. But it was hilarious to watch, and I took more than my daily quota of pictures within a half hour span.

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If ever you get this way, do NOT miss this fun and funny stop!

While waiting the arrival of our group before loading on to a local bus to visit the cooler highlands, and a completely different ecosystem, we took a quick peak inside the local church.

Church in Puerto Ayora

Church in Puerto Ayora

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The majority of our group chose to ride mountain style bikes part of the way up into the highlands.

Our bike riders

Our bike riders

We all met up for a demonstration of how sugar cane was pressed in the old days and then processed into sugar, molassas, candy or refined via still into moonshine.

Tim and I substituted for oxen to turn the wheel

Tim and I substituted for oxen to turn the wheel to extract sugar-water from cane

Opportunities were presented to try all of the products including the moonshine.

A bountiful buffet lunch was served at Rancho Fortiz, a farmers home in the hills where we had a chance to walk the grounds and snap pictures with the wild giant tortoises. Watching another couple stage a “trick” shot, Rica and I HAD to follow suit and create a unique and memorable shot for ourselves.

Joanne and a Giant Galapagos Tortoise

Joanne and a Giant Galapagos Tortoise

Here’s the deal. I am NOT actually touching this big guy. In fact I am standing at least the required six feet BEHIND him, legs splayed and holding up my hands as if riding. The photographer, far in front of the tortoise maneuvered into the correct position to make it appear as though I am riding him.

Oh, what fun and a reminder that I must research other clever ways to take photos before our next trip.

The afternoon held two options: 1. Go to the beach and explore via kayak, or 2. Visit a lava tube and see giant tortoises in the wild. We chose option #2.

The giant lava tube was rather a non-event after already experiencing them in Hawaii, but this was much longer and larger in circumference.

Inside lava tube

Inside lava tube

Seeing the numerous wild tortoises was thrilling, and during the afternoon we counted over 40 while traveling along the roadway before making another stop to walk amongst them.

These guys are enormous!

These guys are enormous!

Another "trick" shot

Another “trick” shot

The day had once again been full and so rewarding. It almost felt strange being back amongst civilization, even if the area was not densely populated.

Here are a few more random pictures taken through out the day if you are interested:

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At the end of day, we returned to Puerto Ayora to re-embark on the ship in time for dinner.

Returning to ship, looking back at the town and harbor

Returning to ship, looking back at the town and harbor

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the fishmongers who whether intentional or not, shared their bits and scraps with the ever hopeful critters.

And I will leave you with this:

I loved this sentiment, shown in a shop window

I loved this sentiment, shown in a shop window

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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35 Responses to Galapagos Islands, Ecuador ~ Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Research Station

  1. magarisa says:

    Fascinating post and lovely pictures! I especially like the photo of the sea lion with a hopeful expression in the fish market.

    Like

  2. shungphotography says:

    Great photos and story – reminded us our visit over there in 2012

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anabel Marsh says:

    We didn’t experience most of this – we went to the Research Station on our last morning but we’re then taken straight to Baktra(?) for a flight back to Quito. Other than the wildlife (of course) I most liked the stained glass here – beautiful.

    Like

  4. Val Boyko says:

    Thank you for sharing the good times, joy and hope 💕

    Like

  5. Vikas Singh says:

    awesome. As I said yesterday that I am going to read to your maximum blogs today, I could not do the same.
    Seeing the giant tortoise reminds me of my childhood when I used to watch cartoons programs and that time I used to think that these are monster tortoises.

    Like

  6. Vikas Singh says:

    Also the type of Sugar cane pressing assembly is still used in may parts of rural India.
    At many places you will find these.

    Like

    • We saw a similar operation in Cuba, but it had a shorter crank handle. I don’t recall seeing one in India. Thank you for sharing that they are still in use there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vikas Singh says:

        At places which are far from the main market but cane stands in the field they are found some times. And in the markets there are hand operated machines. Sometimes these men also keep diesel motors to do the crushing and selling the cane juice. They crush lemon and ginger and mint along with the cane.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Brilliant post, loved the fish market, can’t believe the size of the tortoise 😳 enjoy and keep posting ⭐️💫

    Like

  8. Fascinating!!! 🙂

    Like

  9. Wings to Fly says:

    Interesting read. 🙂

    Like

  10. Lovely post! And your pictures bring me there.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  11. Some day I dream of seeing those giant tortoises!

    Like

  12. usfman says:

    Stunning sights. I am curious how you were able to converse with the Spanish speaking locals? Was that an issue?

    Like

    • No, we had no language problems that could not be worked out. I know just enough Spanish to get myself in trouble, but a smile, hand signals, a bit of laughter often do the trick. Most restaurants on the mainland have menus in both English and Spanish. And you can always look for a teenager. They are often bilingual and can help translate if you get into a bind. We were also very fortunate on this trip that our travel companions, Rica and Fred, who were often with us, speak Spanish 🙂

      Like

  13. The shot of the seal and the fish was precious and your ‘riding’ the turtle clever and fun. I also admit I created a picture in my mind of a yard full of breeding turtles. I suspect that would be rather humorous as well. Fun blog. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We didn’t get to the fish market. It looks like a hoot! Sounds like you had a great time. How could you not – it’s the Galapagos!
    Alison

    Like

  15. leahlarkin says:

    You are inspiring me. This must move up on the bucket list. I loved the sea lions at the fish mkt.

    Like

  16. Ernie Holland says:

    Am I missing something by not having JavaScript? Don’t know what it is……………..Ernie

    Like

    • Ernie, JavaScript is a program that allows you to see the slide shows that I post throughout our blog. Do you have mac? You may need to enable it. If you look at our blog on a computer that is not a Mac or Apple, (on a PC), they usually already have it installed and you will be able to see the slide shows.

      Like

  17. tigre23 says:

    Wow! Thanks fro sharing, the tortoise there are huge and such ancient looking creatures! Must have been an amazing experience! The fish market looked like a fun, colourful and vibrant place!

    Like

  18. Penne Cole says:

    Oh wow I’m so jealous. Galapagos is high on my to-do list.

    Like

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