Imagine sleeping and then waking up to a soft voice over a loud-speaker saying…wake up please…and then the voice proceeds to tell you where the first activity will be for the day. Then she says breakfast will be ready in 30 minutes, and that is followed by a soft relaxing song. Giff and I aren’t exactly chirpy morning people but this was actually a nice way of waking up being it was usually 6AM. After the voice, the music and throwing on clothes…we all went upstairs for breakfast.
The boat docked and we jumped in our panga boats to see the island of Fernandina. It is the western most island of all the Galapagos, as well as the youngest. The last time this volcano erupted was in 2005. As we stepped foot onto the volcanic rock, we saw how beautiful the island was. The sharp black rocks dotted with bright red crabs with the turquoise blue sea as the backdrop was stunning. The terrain of this island was far different from all the others.
As we walked onto the island, we saw so many black dinosaur-like marine iguanas. Not like 10 or 20…more like 100s. It was the largest colony of marine iguanas in the Galapagos. These were marine lizards, they can stay under water and dive down to 65ft for up to an hour! They are the only marine lizards in the world and their species is 10 million years old! They blended right into the black rock…we really had to watch our step as we walked by them. They didn’t seem to mind people, they would kind of watch us with one eye as we stepped around them.
We kept walking further into the island, we saw an area of water between the rocks where one of the pelicans was putting on a show. He would fly hard and fast straight down…crashing into the water. After shaking himself off, he would do it again and again, never coming up with a fish. We all got a kick out of watching him. Nearby was a giant sea turtle who was swimming very close to us, and came up for air just long enough for his picture to be taken.
Next we saw the very rare flightless cormorant bird. It is endemic to the Galapagos and probably can only survive in these islands due to the lack of predators…although they spread their wings to pretend to take flight if threatened.
As we were walking back, we saw a fur seal sunbathing on a rock and a Galapagos hawk soaring in the sky…this place is pure nature. It’s amazing how unaware and unafraid these animals are to the danger of humans.
Back on the boat, we changed into bathing suits, grabbed our wetsuits and jumped into the pangas. Out in the middle of the water, the panga boats stopped and we jumped off the side in our snorkel gear. The water was absolutely freezing even with wetsuits on, but the multiple sea turtles swimming around with us made it worth our while.
Back on the boat and after a warm shower we had lunch and some downtime before our afternoon excursion. We docked on the island of Isabela and took a hike to the top. The vegetation was dry and the sun was hot. We didn’t see too many animals besides a finch here and there. As we walked our guide pointed out some of the various types of the fauna. Once at the top, we looked down on Darwin’s Lake. This view of salty green water stuck inside a crater was beautiful. Evidently this lake is so salty that nothing can live in it…we were reminded of the dead sea in Israel but the guides said no one was allowed to bathe in the water. At the very top we sat on piles of lava rock and looked out at the volcanic craters in the distance.
The hike wasn’t so long on the way back…but we were tired from the long day of wildlife watching and sightseeing. We got back onboard our boat, settled in and sat down for dinner with the captain. The boat was really starting to rock as we were leaving the western islands and getting back to the other side of the equator. Giff’s mom unfortunately started to feel sea-sick. She decided to skip dinner and go to bed early. The rest of us enjoyed talking with the captain and listening to his stories as we pretended to eat the disgusting food. At this point, the food was actually getting worse and worse. We were recognizing the gross meat from 2 nights before in our meal, and the soup again was just plain awful. We were all sipping on tea and chatting after dinner when Giff’s mom came up from our room (which was on the first level of the ship) and said she was really getting sick. She was throwing up and couldn’t stop…Giff asked around and found a motion-sickness patch to give her. She said she “wanted off the boat”…and she “wanted to go home.” Obviously, this wasn’t an option..so Giff took her up to the top deck to get some fresh air for a few minutes while the patch would hopefully kick in. The rest of us decided to get to bed as well. The ship was literally rocking so hard we had to hold onto something as we walked around.
After a bit, Giff and his mom came back downstairs where she finally fell asleep and so did we. Thankfully the patch lasts a few days and we have 2 patches so this shouldn’t happen again…fingers crossed.