Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 28, 2007 - Santa Cruz, Galapagos

We had two errands to run this morning - to drop off one of our propane tanks to get topped up, and to swap some books at a local cafe. Once we had managed to pick out 10 new books from one of saddest book selections we've come across, the owner of the cafe insisted that we pay him a dollar a book. After some back and forth, we agreed to it. I've always meant to read some Dostoyevsky anyway. The transaction fee doesn't offend me as much as a 2 for 1 book swap, because the latter depletes my supply of reading material.
After our errands we headed over to the Charles Darwin Foundation, which predates the Galapagos National Park Service. The foundation acts as an educational and advisory branch of the GNPS. They also run breeding programs to foster the repopulation of the islands' threatened giant tortoise and land iguana populations. Eggs are collected from each of the various islands, numbered and incubated until they hatch. Then numbers are painted on each shell in colors that signify which island the tortoises came from. After a few years, once tortoises have reached 20cm in length they are released back on their island of origin. The program has been very successful. On one island, there were only 14 tortoises left before they were bred in captivity, now there are over a 1,000 tortoises on the island.

We timed our visit so that we could see them during feeding time, which is when they are most active. The little tortoises were very cute. We were able to sit just a few feet from full grown tortoises as they tore at the leaves and branches that were left for them. If there is one word to apply to these guys it would be "slow." They don't do anything fast. We watched a land iguana wolf down a bit of branch in a hundredth of the time it would have taken a tortoise to eat the same thing.

Well, now we've done all the local sites. We need to figure out if we're going to do a tour to one of the out islands, or if we're going to shove off for Isabella. The other night we heard that the harbor is so crowded in Isabella (the last stop before the nearly 3,000 mile trek to the Marquesas) that a boat recently wound up on the rocks and another suffered rudder damage. If it is too crowded, we won't stop. And I can't imagine when we'll make it back to the Galapagos. So we should probably make sure we have our fill of wildlife before we leave Santa Cruz.

1 comment:

Anna-Marie said...

Jealous does not even begin to scratch the surface of how i feel as i write this from my office chair at 2:30 am.