Galapagos Islands

Trip Start Feb 07, 2006
Trip End Aug 07, 2006

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, July 15, 2006

Make sure to check out Andrea's Travel Blog for more stories and photos of our trip!

To the Islands

We arrived in on Isla Santa Cruz on an overcast day. This was the Galapagos' main island and it was very humid. We had come here to teach English as volunteers in a local school.

After we arrived we took a short walk through the town. Compared to the rest of South America, the island was expensive. Prices matched that of back home. It would be tough to stay on budget here!

We took a short stroll along the harbor and noticed immediately why this place was so popular with Eco tourism. Peaking over the guardrail onto the rocks we could see hundreds of crabs and black colored lava lizards. A handful of sea lions where napping on a dock in someone's yard and turtles swam by.

All of this and we were still in the city! We couldn't wait to see what our boat tour of the Islands had in store for us the next week once our volunteering was over.

Luc and Andrea, English teachers kind of

The next day we started our English classes. We taught 3 classes, two for children and one for adults.

Andrea, being a certified teacher for kids back home felt right at home with the kids while I enjoyed teaching the adults best.

I felt a little out of place teaching the kids but Andrea led the class and I helped along. I certainly learned that teaching kids was not my calling!

Teaching here was a little different, I noticed this when a lizard perched itself on my foot while I was teaching one day.

Our holiday had been postponed for a while, this was back to working life!

The good life

The next day we didn't start teaching until 4:30pm. Kip, the teacher we had been taking over for, had a daily routine of snorkeling in the many secluded beaches and bays around the Island. He invited us along for a morning dip and showed us where to rent gear.

The beach was a small strip of sand secluded behind bushes and away from the road and tourists.

The waters where greenish blue, right out of a Hollywood movie. We dove in, struggling passed the crashing waves and marveled at the life that bubbled below us.

Big fish, small fish, yellow ones, blue ones, all colors and shapes swam by. My highlight was looking straight down and noticing that an eagle-ray ( a type of ray here on the Islands ) was parked right below me on the sandy bottom. When I noticed him, I tried to call Andrea over but he dashed off flapping his wing-like fins. I chased him for a while trying to catch up but my fins where no match for his. He seemed to be flying as he carved gracefully through the waters.

I was looking forward to seeing another one or two during our boat cruise the next week.

After snorkeling we had lunch at Chris's. Chris ran the school with her partner Katie and lived in a beautiful home right on the coast. As we ate, we watched the wild life around us. Pelicans sat right outside the window and only 10 feet away we could see sea lions sun bathing under the window and sting rays flapping by in the clear green water.

We day dreamed about living here. We imagined sitting out on the porch working from home, bathing in sun as black iguanas gathered on the lava rocks.

The good life!

Touring can be hard work

Katie, one of the partners at the school we were teaching at had an ambitious Ecuadorian boyfriend. Danny had plans for him own a tour company, one which offered tours of the Island's farms and country side. Katie offered us the opportunity to tag along on a bike ride in which would visit all of the farms which Danny was planning to package for tourists.

This would be Danny's first trial run with a few tourists biking around the Island.

We rented bikes and the 6 of us headed off for Danny's grandfather's farm. We walked through the farm and tasted various fruits from exotic trees and plants.

Despite a small infestation of Galapagan flesh-eating ants in my sandals, the tour was great.

We headed off to various other farms through the island. I guess we were a little out of shape. On the ride we must have biked up 20 hills each one being progressively a little more exhausting.

By the end of the day we had seen 3 farms, a sink hole and a lot of beautiful countryside but we were dead tired which put a damper on a night out on the town.

By 11pm, our eyes were half closed and we crashed early.

Cruising the Galapagos

When our volunteering was up, it was time to head out to the sea! We had booked an 8 day tour of the Galapagos Islands on board the Angelique, a quaint sail boat. The tour wasn't cheap but was meant to be a highlight.

Our days were made up of a few walks on various Islands to see Iguana's, sea lions and a variety of other animals. After walking around for a bit, we would then head for the water where we would snorkel in clear green waters.

At night, we would sit up on the boat and watch the countless stars while we swayed with the never ending waves. Sunsets onboard were warm blankets of sunny orange and made a perfect ending to each eventful day.

The nights were rough though and nausea pills were almost always needed. The boat rocked so much that it was a challenge just to stay on your bed!

Snorkeling with sharks, sea turtles and playful sea lions.

Snorkeling was a daily activity on the boat, one which I enjoyed. The waters were a greenish blue, like the ones you saw in movies. From the boat you could see the ocean floor. The water was so clear that at times, you could even see rays hovering on the sandy bottom from the boat.

I loved floating in the water next to sea turtles while they munched on some green furry weed growing on underwater rocks. When we were lucky enough, a curious sea lion would spin around us zooming away just as fast as he would zip back in to have a good look at us. The sea lions where always happy to play with us.

None of the animals here on the Islands seemed afraid of humans letting us get very close.

At times, we even spotted sharks swimming beneath us! "Don't worry" our guide calmed us. Apparently these sharks didn't have teeth and aside from being chewed to death, and unlikely scenario, we had nothing to worry about. An easy thought to rationalize but you couldn't help getting the chills when a shark cruised by.

The rays were my favorite though. Their wings gave the impression that they were flying. As with the other fish, they weren't scared of us and we could swim with them for a long time before they got bored of us and with a stiff flap would zip out of sight. We saw sting rays, golden rays and the best of all, the bird-like eagle ray with its speckled backside and seemingly misplaced beak-like nose.

Of course, we were surrounded the whole time by countless blue, orange, yellow and other colored and oddly shaped fish. Too many to count, really.

I could do this forever.
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