What the frig? No frisky Frigates

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hostal San Fransisco

Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos Islands,
Friday, January 28, 2011

I woke up bleary eyed vowing not to drink the sugar cane spirit again, we had to get up as we had agreed with yesterdays guide that if he fancied another trip to Kicker Rock today and had other interested we could contribute but on a significantly discounted basis, no lunch etc. Whilst he hadn't appeared to have left a message with the Hostal San Francisco, we felt obliged to wait at the pier in case he had decided to go however at 09:40 it was clear he wasn’t going. We went to the cheap cafe from last night which full of locals and no other tourists, was our kind of gaff. A breako was $2 and consisted of a fruit salad, a coffee, a fruit shake and some toast, you could have had the same thing with eggs but we didn’t manage to order that (unfortunately). We then set off to find Frigate Bird Hill, a short walk from the town itself, even though we had been told there are very few frigates about and none will be doing the chest puffing thing, we wanted to go anyway just in case.

Just before the trail started we found an information centre which was definitely the best we have seen on the Galapagos Islands. We may have spent about 45 minutes in there, it detailed the huge growth of local population and tourism over the course of the last 30 years and just how unsustainable both things have been. They really are trying hard to do things in the right way and be very open about it, at the moment only 6% of tourism money go’s to the local population as most of the money on tour boats and cruises go’s directly to international tour operators and is spent before they even arrive in the Galapagos, their time is then spent on free sights, i.e. wildlife and eating on board. The only people really contributing any % of their total spend are plebs like us (of which there are more than I imagined) however they don’t want people like us in the Galapagos. What they want is a smaller number of tourists who spend more money here but spend it in the local economy not on cruise boats. It is an interesting dilemma from which I don’t see an easy conclusion other than to keep raising the entrance tax to silly levels.

There has been talk of the $100 becoming $200 next year to try and stop the increase in tourism year on year. We had already suspected it but sewerage is piped out to sea (from both boats and the land) and they don’t want to increase the levels of pollution at all, there is no natural drinking water left and therefore all this is imported on tankers, and fossil fuels (oil) is also imported from the mainland which has led to one serious oil slip which killed lots of wildlife. They are building wind turbines and are trying to make the islands energy efficient but they have to stop the growth in consumption of energy which means keeping down the number of people. It really is a merry go round. We kind of felt guilty about coming here after reading all the blurb but we did take some positives that we have helped support the local economy which stops people needing to harvest the land and sea of its resources that are attracting the tourists.

We headed on up Frigate hill in the sunshine, and got some great views both of the ocean below and the immature frigate birds in there nesting sites but as expected not a super large chest in sight (except Erica’s of course).  As we headed back down we saw a sea lion playing with a large fish throwing it around the water then letting the frigates and pelicans swoop down to try and get removing it from them just before they got it, it was great to watch and we also saw the usual lots of turtles and lots of sea lions. We continued our walk around the peninsular finding a large statue of Charles Darwin, a couple more lookouts then Love Beach, so called because it is a bit of a hang out for canoodling couples, oh and nice sunsets. We hung around a little then made our way back to town past the other beaches. Erica had a quick dose and we watched a film (she claims to be sunburnt so won’t come to the beach with me but there isn’t a bit of burn in sight). We then headed out for another of the local walks. Feeling a little tired we stopped off at the shop on the way back and broke the promise of the day, another bottle of sugar cane spirit. We drank that and watched Shutter Island. Feeling drunk and hungry we went out to a taco bar.... yes a taco bar and had a couple of beers, I ordered a chicken taco and Erica ordered a meat taco, when they arrived without tasting Erica insisted she swapped them round insisting she had to have the chicken, a bit bemused I let this happen, in the end the reason was merely the chicken one looked good and the meat one didn’t. Well the bloody cheek. We retired back to bed as we had booked our ferry back to Santa Cruz for the next morning so another early morning was on the cards.

Erica edit:  Ahem we actually shared them in the end but Andrew fails to say that he then devoured another chicken one all to himself – which he expertly ordered in Spanish.  They were delicious though and I only wished we had discovered this place earlier before all the hamburger and chips episodes. – Andrew Edit – Turd, I got a scabby corner and she ate at least a third of the second one.
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