Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora & Isabel Island – Friday 01/25/2019

“It’s drizzling out Nilla.”

“How many geckos do you think are in this room?

“At least three – don’t know for sure about last night – maybe more.”

“So what is planned for today Jackson?”

“The Darwin Center, at least, which should be very interesting.  And we have to catch the 2:00 PM ferry to Isabel Island.  That’s about a two to three hour ‘experience’ – we posted about the possible rough waters a couple of days ago.  There are four converging currents – Equatorial, Humboldt, Cromwell and Panama.”

“Let’s wish for ‘smooth sailing’?

“Before we really get started on our day we should work on Friday’s topic, the Galapagos.”

“As you know,  97% of the islands were declared a national park in 1959. The archipelago consists of 20 islands, 42 islets and over 250 rocks.  Older islands are sinking while the younger ones are rising.”

“We saw some of those ‘rocks’ yesterday on our way from Isla Baltra.”

“The wet season is December through May and the dry season June through November, thus this morning’s drizzle.”

“Galapagos Islands are famous for the Galapagos tortoise.  On the island of Pinto in the 1700’s, whalers discovered that the tortoise was delicious and required little food or water for long periods of time – a perfect food source aboard the vessels.  The last tortoise originating on Pinto Island, lonely Lonesome George died in 2012.”

“So sad Jackson.  Man has introduced goats, cows, donkeys, mice, cats, dogs which have all contributed to the tortoise demise as well as rats.  Ants too have had a negative impact on the tortoise survival.”

“But wait Nilla – Lonesome George’s lineage may not be extinct – some of the tortoises found on Isabel Island have been determined to be genetically linked to those from Pinto Island and they have been introduced back to Pinto as part of the restoration project.”

“So we may hear more about this when we visit the Darwin Center this morning.”

“You know that the giant tortoise directly influenced the name of these islands –  Galapagos refers to an old Castellan word meaning riding saddle, the shell is a carapace. Locals refer to the tortoise not as a turtle but as the galapagos. ”

“Another interesting bit of information Jackson, and not to overlooking the amazing green sea turtle species – these  creatures may have inhabited the islands and surrounding waters during prehistoric times – with the dinosaurs!”

“Although we’ll not see the 800 species of mollusks and myriads of fish species, we will see unique birds, animals and reptiles – not just the geckos in this room.”

“We already saw iguanas, sea lions, seals and crabs yesterday.”

“Time to get going – Aventurero has already been out exploring.”

“We’ll stow our bags in the ‘luggage’ room – previously a downstairs shower – until we get back ready to catch the ferry.  Very reasonable price for our two rooms for last night’s stay at Estrella del Mar – $104.72.”

“Downtown Puerto Ayora is certainly busy Nilla.  Tour agencies almost on every corner and souvenir shops in between.

Look at all that fish – a frenzy for humans, pelicans, seals, iguanas, and frigate birds.  Isn’t that Marciano from Lonesome George Tour Agency riding around on the bike?  We bought our ferry tickets from him yesterday.”

“It is Jackson, I think he said something about the ‘Brithanny’ being  oversold and we’re now on a different ferry – ‘D Luis’.”

“At least he was able to locate us to let us know – you’d think they’d have a column on the booking form to indicate where one was staying – it would make it easier rather than looking around town for us.  How are the ferry personnel going to know about the switch?”

“Who knows.  What’s the difference between a sea lion and a seal, I think we’ve been seeing seals but they may have been sea lions?”

“A sea lion has large flippers that are used to maneuver on land and have ear ‘flaps’ while the seal wiggles has smaller flippers and moves along land on his belly and has no ear ‘flaps’.”

“I’m not sure which we’ve been seeing.  We’ll have to look closer. How about breakfast?  The 1835 Coffee Lab looks interesting, they’re roasting and grinding their own beans Nilla.”


“Says here that the volcanic soil and microenvironment are ideal for growing superb quality coffee and that Charles Darwin possibly had a phenomenal cup of coffee that served to inspire the theory of evolution and  his book ‘The Origin of the Species’.”

“Nice tale Nilla.”

Onto the Darwin Research Center.  Admission is ‘free’ –  apparently part of the $100.00 fee paid on arrival to the Galapagos.   The Charles Darwin Foundation and the Ecuadorian government  formerly collaborate along with UNESCCO on July 4, 1959 and establish the Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz.



“I want to see the tortoises Jackson.  Remember we had mentioned them in the post yesterday?”

El Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena opened in 1965 and at the rearing center study the reproduction, birth, diet, daily habits and death.

“Nilla, did you know that it takes two to six days for the tortoise to hatch?  After that they feed on the yoke sac until able to find food on their own.”

“The research center is interesting but I’m waiting to see the flora and fauna in real life!”

“Maybe later on today Nilla, when we get to Isabel Island.  We need to collect our bags back at the hostal and head to the pier, there may be some confusion because of the ferry switch.”

“Marciano said he’d be at the agency if there were any problems.”

Bags in hand and after some hydration the Trio heads to the pier in plenty of time for the 2:00 PM ferry to Isabel.  Marciano is nowhere to be seen and the office is closed up tight.

Lonesome George Tours – closed up at 1:15 pm

There is no ‘D Luis’ boat.  After significant discussion the Trio is directed to another office across the street from the pier.  In the meantime other people have been given badges indicating the assignment to one of several ferries.

“Looks like we’re the first three passengers listed  on ‘Gaby’ manifest – the ferry that leaves at 2:30 PM.”

“Looks that way Jackson.  If that’s the case, the arrangements for the Gaby were last minute and we should have to pay only $25.00.”

Last minute ferry price $25.00

“No one wants to take responsibility for the confusion Nilla.  Looks like the Trio will have to complain to Marciano when they return on Monday afternoon.”


“I’m sure they will.  WTE!! What should we do about it?”

“How about an ‘advisory’.”

Nilla and Jackson Advisory:  Future travelers should be advised that ferry tickets are available online if purchased at least 48 hours in advance to excursion departure.  A $35.00 credit card charge will appear on the statement.  While more expensive, this may be the preferred method for booking to avoid the last minute confusion.

“We’re finally going to leave Nilla.”

“About time Jackson.  The bags have to be inspected first and looks like we have to take a water taxi from the pier to get out to the ferry.”

“Fifty cents per person  – it’s reasonable.”

“There’s only the captain, one crew, eight adults and two children on board.”

“Hope no one gets sea sick.”

After two hours of slamming seas Gaby arrives at Puerto Villamil. Kayakers and snorkelers are enjoying the calm waters around the pier.  A one dollar water taxi ride from Gabi to the pier.

“Oh no Nilla, what’s this, another fee?”

“Ten dollars per adult extranjero tourist, there was no mention of this when we made our plans.  Is this new?”

“Welcome to Isabela, Isla de Encantos!”

“Look Jackson, sea iguanas and sea lions.  Lobo marino is what they call the sea lions here – literally sea wolves.  This is a place we’ll want to explore tomorrow, Concha de Perla.”

Puerto Villamil is very clean, a few stray dogs.  Walk to La Gran Tortuga another cute hostal.

The Trio is tired, hungry and hot.

“Look Nilla, we have our own beds!”

Villamir Center

After a quick visit to the beach, a walk around town the three have a delicious and relaxing dinner at Las Palmeras Restaurant.  Prices here, as on Santa Cruz, are more expensive than in Crucita.

“Jackson, what are we going to do about the internet. we can’t post!”

“We’ll just have to catch up when we can and in meantime keep notes in Microsoft Word.  Good night Nilla, don’t worry about it too much.”

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