Saturday, October 29th ~ Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
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.
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.
This next breed has a darker shell and smoother around the neck area. They would eat lower vegetation in the wilds.
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.
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.
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.
The majority of our group chose to ride mountain style bikes part of the way up into the highlands.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
At the end of day, we returned to Puerto Ayora to re-embark on the ship in time for dinner.
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: