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Friday, June 25, 2010

Espanola: Spanish for Spanish

Espanola was probably our best stop, because it had a lot of stuff and you could get around it pretty easily. Too bad it was "Ms. Toad's Wild Ride" overnight to get there. Here's a pretty decent map. And I added this link to every entry about the Galapagos, so no one has to hunt for it while reading.

and don't forget Galasam

If this doesn't appear in large format, click the white square and it will. You can't see Los Lobos, but it's just off San Cristobal to the southwest. and then Espanola is due south of that. The boats all pretty much go around in a little square among the central islands, rotating passengers every four days at Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and refueling at Baltra. Wherever you go, you see other boats. Our companions mostly were the Mary Anne, the Sagitta and some Celebrity thing. Dedicated dive boats disappear for a week at a time and never touch land.

Speaking of diving, we didn't do any. The Millenium site said snorkeling was available, but it didn't say you had to snorkle, or that the trip was based around snorkeling, or that you had to be young and fit, or that it was inconvenient and dangerous. I mean, why would they say that? So they didn't. We found out on our own.

But all the problems don't mean we didn't have fun, or didn't see anything. That's just the way travel is, especially adventure travel. You have to expect some difficulties. The problem is, you never know which ones will appear.

So, on to Espanola. As was always the case, there was snorkeling and a hike at two different landings. I would go ashore, walk around as far as I could, take pictures, and then go in the water. Franklin soon realized his idea of an "easy" trail was not the same as ours. I mean, we never intended to climb the volcanos, we thought we'd stay on the regular trails. Well, there's nothing regular about any of the trails. I'm not suggesting they pour cement all over the islands, but if you want to SHOW them to people, make a few simple accommodations, like a flat landing platform, safe steps and some railings on the landings. You know the water taxis in the islands have railings? Imagine. You could maybe supplement the paths with open pavers for stability.

Moving right along. On Espanola some sea turtles were hatching, and some frigate birds were killing them. I couldn't look. However, I got some terrific pictures of marine iguanas. Check it out. Don't forget to click the pic.

Joyce and I hiked the whole length of this beach, a wet landing, taking pictures, mostly of nursing sea lion pups. Here's one.

While everyone else went snorkeling, we went swimming, and although we don't have pictures, we lucked out and swam with a penguin. Even Joyce went swimming. If she came ashore (on a wet landing. She made all of those) she swam as much as I did, for a couple of reasons. Sea lions have flies; lots and lots of flies, primarily horseflies. Flies don't bother you as much in the water. And, it was HOT! We were on the equator! In the summer! The water may have seemed a little cold at first, but because it was so hot, you got comfortable in a hurry. You better go swimming.

The kids also enjoyed Espanola.

We actually landed at several different places on this island. Here we were told we could see sea lions surfing. Well, you could, but it was too tough to take a picture. I did get a nice shot of the waves, the Millenium, and a bit of the ships in our little gaggle.

On this beach, which was a dry landing, I was able to hike part of the way until we reached a lava boulder field, and on the way we found blue-footed boobies. Here they are.

Nearby we were treated to a rare glimpse of the Literate Marine Iguana, endemic only to this particular island.

Here is a group of the far more numerous Lazy Marine Iguana. They're waiting for the movie.

Between landings we ate lunch, napped and did our laundry in the bathtub. One reason we napped was utter exhaustion. The other was to avoid the Euro-trash drama. A third was, it was a lot cooler in our cabin than in the public spaces.

The food was usually disappointing. It was served buffet-style and of the three entrees, I could usually eat some of one. I made sure to always get fruit if they had it, because the vegetables were often inedible. There was only ever one kind of salad dressing, and we had a dessert with chocolate in it just once out of 16 dessert-bearing meals. Of course they served fish. It was usually horrible. I don't think it was fresh. You know why? Only indigenous people are allowed to fish the waters there, and none of us were.

So between the endless exercise and generally unappetizing food, it was easy to lose weight. One thing I won't complain about.

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