Galapagos to Celebrate our 25th Anniversary Part 2

After our early morning photo session on Floriana Island Monday, Stan and I decided that a relaxing morning on the boat sounded better than deep water snorkeling or zodiac rides. We did relax. We had discussed the fact that I was not doing well in the evenings. I had weaned myself off Zoloft under my doctor’s care in December and it was becoming apparent I needed it again. (No stigma about talking about this, paging Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia!). We went to see the ship doctor and she said she would see if she could get me some Zoloft the next day when we visit the biggest town in the Galapagos, since my primary doctor had said I could go back on it if I needed it. I also was treated to an Iguana Salt Scrub followed by a massage in the spa. Ahh, so nice. In the afternoon we had signed up for kayaking and that was a highlight but I did not bring my phone for photos. It was raining lightly but we went through some beautiful back waters between lava ridges.There were so many sea turtles! There were some young girls on this kayak outing – the youngest almost 5 years old. It was fun to hear their excitement. They counted the heads popping up – 14, 15, there’s another one! The shores and bushes were full of birds. After the kayaking we went to the Post Office Barrel on Floriana Island. It is a very cool tradition to have ship travelers hand carry mail as it was done in the olden days. Some of our group read the destinations on the addresses to see if they were near any of us. We picked up one from Sparks, Nevada and about four from Las Vegas and Henderson which we can deliver the next time we visit Stan’s dad. We left a postcard for Andy and it will be interesting to see how long it takes to get home.

On Tuesday, the ship had moved to Santa Cruz, the most human populated town in the Galapagos. We still wanted to save our energy for later in the day, so we skipped the early morning trip to the Charles Darwin Center. Our wonderful housekeeping person Gladys could only speak Spanish. I enjoyed Boogie Board conversations in Spanish with her. I had torn my skirt in Guayacil getting ready for our anniversary dinner. Gladys told me that on Tuesday she could have it sewn in town. I sent it to laundry with a note about the repair request.

We got to town about 10:15 and had a little time to walk around.

Then we ran into Jim and Peggie who had gone to the Darwin Research Center.

We were all to meet at The Rock, a bar, at 10:30 to catch buses to various activities. Jim, Peggie, and Stan were going to ride bicycles to a cane sugar plantation. I chose to visit a school.

The bicyclists getting ready to go
Stan and I hugging before parting ways

I visited the only private school in the Galapagos. We had been asked to bring books for their open air library. They had an Amazon wish list we could choose from.

Their library has grown from 400 to 4000 books in a year, since partnering with National Geographic and Lindblad.

I had 5 girls as tour guides. They were my son Andy’s age. They spoke English very well and were not allowed to speak Spanish with me. At this bilingual school, grade levels are based on English proficiency.

My guides

Their school garden that was flooded out in the last El Nino

My tour guides with me in their classroom. They were excited to use the word selfie in English for the first time.

My guides explained that they couldn’t use their phones at school because they didn’t work. I explained that we call that “no service”. They had to explain to their principal what they had learned about me. I showed them a photo of Andy.

The principal said they love blond boys. They said, “He plays the violin?” When I said, “It’s a viola, a little bigger than a violin.” They thought “little bigger” sounded funny! 

They have a nice computer lab

so I told them they could look up ALS to learn about my disease. They also want to email me to practice English.

I missed the sugar cane plant, but we all met up at a nice restaurant for lunch, Aqualarre, before going to see the giant tortoises.

The resident dog at the restaurant

And then, the Giant tortoises.

Giant Tortoise eating grass
Jim and Peggie looking at their photos
Stan photographing Giant Tortoise dung. I am glad I took advantage of the tall boots they provided. That was some sticky mud.

After the Giant Tortoises we were bussed back to town and had the option of staying in town to shop but we went back to the ship because we were tired. I ran into the doctor on the stairs and she gave me three Zoloft tablets, enough to start out with a half dose for 6 nights. Then I would be home to start back on full dose. Our laundry came back and my skirt was still torn. I went to the back deck to ask in Spanish if it was still possible to take it to town to have it sewn. The guys working back there went to find the hotel manager Roberto and I showed him my copy of the laundry bill where I said the skirt needs to be sewn in town. I told him Gladys said it could be done on Tuesday. I asked if it was still possible. He said he would go find Gladys. It was already after 4 but I got it back by 6 all fixed. Such nice service from every worker on the boat!

That night at dinner a band came in and sang happy birthday to a guest.

Then after dinner they played in the lounge and even some Ecuadorian dancers came in.

They got guests to come up to dance and I was one of them reluctantly. But it was fun. They made a train around the room and then we got in a circle and two people danced in the middle, then two others, etc. Then we crossed our arms and held hands and went into a tight circle in the middle and back out. I loved the skirts with the Galapagos pictures on them!

On Wednesday morning Stan and I had time to visit the bridge before breakfast.

Then after breakfast we went to Cerro Dragon for a hike to see land iguanas.

It was quite hot, even in the early morning 

We did see this guy as well as some others. They hang out under cactus waiting for something to fall. They can eat any part of the cactus. There are 15 species of prickly pear cactus on the Galapagos Islands. The cacti in this area have sharp spines but on other islands the spines are soft like hair because there are no iguanas on their island so they don’t have to use the spines in defense.

The molt of a crab, not a live crab

Then back to the ship. Stan got overheated on the hike so he opted to stay on board, but I went to the beach to try snorkeling again. I paired up with an older couple who were new to snorkeling. I saw a huge school of small silver fish, only about an inch in length. They swam by me and kept coming and coming. I later heard that these fish are what the penguins eat. After snorkeling I sat on the beach and talked with other nice folks from the ship. There was even some yoga going on.

After lunch we went on a zodiac ride and saw our first blue footed booby.

Then we had a presentation on Oceanography 101

Oceanography includes many other sciences: geology, geography, chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy
Ocean currents world wide
The oceanographic naturalist Jason is a Giant’s fan

This presentation was followed by a talk about things that Darwin missed. Here is a picture of every finch. 

The famous finches, plus new ones that were discovered

Thursday morning we were at Bartolome` Islet and departed early (6:15 am) for a hike to the top of the Islet. Jim, Peggie, and I all made the trek. Tune in next week for the rest of the story!

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