Santa Cruz

Another bright & early day, this time it’s a chance to disembark to boat. Yeah baby, it’s nice to leave my single cabin on the 300 level that is underneath the galley where I can smell what’s going on & let’s not forget looking threw the porthole tiny window at the zodiac landing station listing to the voices of the crew & the smell of diesel from the zodiac engines. It’s nice to have a window to look threw & to sleep in a cabin all by myself for a change eventho if its only for a week. However, I had to make sure I was on the right floor before I ended up in the crew cabins.  From time to time I would pass a chef, engineer or staff cos I was more or less are living in “staff cabin world for the week”.  I would say a simple “hola” & I usually got a “hello Christine” or in Spanish “Cristina” as what my name is also translated into. Disembarkation is a great chance to take advantage of seeing some of the culture of the Galapagos on land on Santa Cruz.  I quite enjoy walking the dock, the side streets looking at the murals & figuring out what story I want to tell threw the lens. There are some very nice looking restaurants’, bars & galleries too. Not to forget that there’s a number of dive shops as well as accommodations to suit your needs, grocery store, post office, hardware store, clothing stores, & laundry facilities etc, the list goes on and on... the amenities you would find in any town/city of the world. Also, it’s the potential chance to see tortoises in the highlands.  I quite enjoyed the yummy vegetarian lentil lunch, a traditional Ecuadorian dish at Altair.  Yes, there are two main communities in the Galapagos that are highly populated.  You wouldn’t think of such a thing, but there are. Where else would you expect that guides & others who work in the area go during their “off time” from working on ships? Back to the mainland, which is quite costly if you add up all those Aero Gal, flights.
Lonseome George
The humidity today reminded me of Japanese summer, I had sweat dripping down at me beginning at eight o’clock in the morning. Not fun if you ask me, the humidity but the experience was amazing. Let’s see another excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Station to experience the evolution of tortoises first hand. You get to see them at every age from just being born to living over a hundred years old. Not to forget the different types that live on each of the islands. I recall last time as I went here; one of the staff members pointed out Galapagos tomatoes and had me try it.  I remember clearly that she said something like “everyone who eats a Galapagos tomato will be back”, what did you know I found myself back seven months later from my last holiday to this amazing place. Lonesome George is the famous or I should say, “star” of the show here.  He’s well over a hundred & sadly does not have any off spring.  Once he is gone, there is no other who can replace him. Well, you can tell what region of the island the tortoises are by the shells that they have, the round ones mean that they from the middle part & that the ones with a hump or sadleback in them are from the highest highlands near the volcanoes.  These animals are amazing to see up close in personal. The CDRS is where scientist gathers information for the conservation of the islands’ unique biota. The CDRS works closely with the Galapagos National Park Service that is entity ultimately responsible for managing the region.  It’s really a cool place to check out & not forget to see the different tortoises of the islands up close & personal.  Just remember to stay on the tracks or else the park service guide will yell at you.  It’s amazing to look them in the eye.
Darwin Finch
We also get to visit a charming sugar cane mill located in the highlands in as pot called El Trapiche.  The spot is a good chance to see a donkey  & the opportunity to have a wonderful experience with some local “Galapaguenos” & to see their lifestyle.  I quite enjoyed tasting some local coffee, raw sugar cane, liquor close to a famous Columbian one & other native item.  A very nice change to see some local features & customs that you wouldn’t necessarily see if you didn’t get off the beaten path to embrace your full Galapagos experience.
Fish Market
Compose & wait is the new lingo I learned ths week.  I had the chance to do that this afternoon.  I had a pretty amazing opportunity to see giant tortoise in the wild high in the highlands.  However, there was no set trail, but be careful not to step in the giant tortoise poo.  It was amazing to see them in the wild not in the CDRS, which was nice too, but this was unbelievable. Light mist came in too, but that didn’t stop me from having some fun.  It was nice to walk around on my own without anyone too for a change.  However, the tortoises sounded like dinosaurs as you approach them & once I did they hibernated into their shell to protect them.  No, I’m not going to attack, just want to see how beautiful you are.  They are amazing. Each one definitely has its own characteristics & facial features. Blissful. I quite enjoyed this time much more than last cos I felt rushed & was nice to have the option of actually working on my photography.  Sadly to say that is not always the case when I’m in a snap & run type situation. This wasn’t at all which made it something special.
Street in Town
Overall a successful day in the port of Puerto Ayora, it’s nice to walk amongst the street to look at galleries & to see what other artistries are doing.  It’s nice to catch a glimpse into the real culture that you wouldn’t necessarily expect if you stayed on board thinking if I don’t get off its ok.  It’s nice to see what others in the world are doing. 
Last night I also got positive feed back from Matt & Amy on the photos that I submitted. It’s nice to hear that the image of the plant that’s related to the sunflower was “gorgeous” according to Matt.  While my other one that I had of Mike, the photo instructor, at sunrise with a guest could have been better with where I placed my horizon line, only if I thought to get down on my knees to shoot the beautiful clouds that morning that my eye was drawned to with my wide angel lens.  It was nice to get positive feedback from a couple of pros that I’ve quite enjoyed spending the week with.  As well as a few new tips from the pros.
Tortoise in Highlands

Another successful Galapagos day that I quite enjoyed. I was grateful that the crew had the opportunity to get off onto land to see their families & have some “me” time.  I know how hard they work. It’s not easy working at sea & most people don’t realize the long hours & dedication that one has for it. Or the fact of how many endless shipboard drills one participates in to obtain safety at sea. It’s nice to take advantage of that time before it’s lost. I’ve been enjoying myself this week. Nice to not have a full boat either. No, I haven’t “worked” just working on my portfolio & turned into staff from time to time answering the guest questions.  Some have been regarding naturalizing about the Galapagos, while others are photography related and not to forget where do I call home which I answer that my stuff is stored in “Maine” but home is where the heart is & on the road living in the now. I’ve told them that I’ve set foot on over twenty countries & taught English in Japan amongst the “odd” jobs that I’ve had & they are quite impressed. I can only imagine a certain friend of mine looking at me & saying “who didn’t you talk to” & the answer would be probably no one & he would look at me just laughing.  I’m an air sign & Irish so of course I’m blessed with the gift of gab that I probably don’t need to “kiss the Blarney Stone” to get. It’s amazing to spend another week amongst the beautiful Galapagos Islands that are different & unique in its own way.  To only understand the beauty of the place one must come & experience it for themselves. It’s that simple.  Of course it’s an opportunity of a lifetime!

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