“Jackson, it’s our last day in the Galapagos and the Ts promised that they’d take us on the nature trail with them today. Everyone is up early – some guests have already left the hostal.”
“Our ferry the Mi Sol leaves the island at 3:00 Pm. I wonder if we’ll have to pay an entrance fee on Santa Cruz when we return?”
“I doubt it, but we’ve been surprised before.”
“Let’s get going, we don’t want to be on the trail too late.”
“Jackson, did you know that it takes twenty years for a galapago to reach breeding size? They’re strict vegetarians, eating grass and even cacti, the prickly pear. They can survive a full year without food or water. You’ll only hear the tortoise hiss when the head is retracted into the shell – the hissing sound is the air being released from their lungs to make room for the head.”
“The adult tortoise has no natural predator, but the eggs and the young tortoise has many as we’ve already discussed. How big are the eggs?”
“About the size of a tennis ball. The female makes a hole in the sand using her rear feet and places the eggs in the hole and then, urinates on the sand over the nest. She can lay more than a dozen eggs. In cooler temperatures more male eggs will hatch, meaning at warmer temperatures, more females will hatch.”
“Are they still endangered?”
“They’re classified as ‘likely to become endangered’, there were 15 different types of tortoise when Darwin visited the islands and now only eleven. The San Diego Zoo has a large population of galapagos.”
It’s sunny and hot as the Trio starts along trail leading to the Arnaldo tupiza-Chamaidan breeding center.
“Nilla more iguanas, must be ‘rush hour’ on the walkway!”
“Jackson, look over there, a flamingo!”
“Absolutely beautiful and so calm, quiet.”
“There’s another warning sign about the manzanillo tree Nilla.”
“Don’t even touch it!”
“Look up there. What is that bird?”
“I have no idea Jackson.”
“Look ahead – we’re at the breeding center. Looks far nicer than the one on Santa Cruz!”
“I want a closer look at the tortoises.”
“Are the galapagos color blind?”
“What a silly question to ask Jackson. Who would have thought to ask? Why are you asking?”
“I’m big and orange and don’t want to be eaten.”
“Jackson, we already know that they are strict vegetarians! And yes, they do see color, that’s how they find flowers and blossoms.”
“There are small ones over here in a ‘tortoise hutch’ Nilla.
“Absolutely wonderful that they are being saved for others to appreciate in many, many, many years to come.”
“We should head back now, finishing packing and check out.”
“Look, more flamingos.”
Bags placed in a corner at the hostal the Trio returns to Concha La Perla, to sit and watch wild life and people. More sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and penguins, even a manta ray swims by.
Nilla, did you know that mantas are filter feeders and eat large amounts of plankton as they swim? Gestation takes over a year and because they get tangled up in fishing nets, they are listed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.”
“Time for lunch, we’ll not have an opportunity to eat until we arrive back on Santa Cruz.”
“Let’s see if the Trio will enjoy eating at the Aventurero Pizzeria and Restaurante.”
The Ts have a small lunch. Aventurero wants to eat once back in Puerto Ayora.
La Gran Tortuga lodging for the Trio $403.32. Quick $3.00 taxi ride to the dock, water taxi $1.00 to Mi Sol and off to Santa Cruz, this time not nearly as the one on Gaby. Water taxi from Mi Sol to the dock $0.50 per person. Once back in Puerto Ayora (no $10.00 fee for entry) the three walk to the Estrella del Mar Hostal and have the same rooms except switched, the Ts have room 11 and Aventurero has room 5. Priorities at this time are an ATM and discussion with Marciano at Lonesome George Tours.
The Ts go to speak with Marciano while Aventurero goes to the ATM near the supermercado. Marciano is at the desk and looks up at the Ts quizzically when they ask for the refund – $5.00 each – the difference between a full fare and the discounted, ‘last minute fare’ via ferry to Isabela. Marciano is reminded that the original booking on the Brithany was canceled because of over-booking and that he had then booked the three on ‘D Luis’. He agrees that that was the arrangement. The Ts further explain that there was no ‘D Luis’ ferry, that he, Marciano was nowhere in site when the Trio arrived at the pier, as directed, and were left without any clear instruction how to proceed. Marciano did not appear to be surprised to learn that they had been booked on the ‘Gaby’, a 2:30 PM ferry at the last minute – when the’ last minute’ reduced fare was in effect. “You went, didn’t you? I don’t have the money to refund you, I mean the $15.00. I don’t understand. Maybe come back in an hour?”
“Yup, Nilla. In an hour when the business is closed, just like it was when we were trying to catch the ferry to Isabel Island.”
“He has no intention of refunding our money.”
“What should we do?”
“Jackson, we’ll just inform Trip Adviser of our experience with Lonesome George Tours Ltd. and post an ‘alert’ here on our blog.”
Nilla and Jackson Alert: CAUTION, CAUTION, CAUTION. Beware of Lonesome George Tours, they do not deliver the services as promised.
“Let’s get something to eat.”
Dinner at the Royal Rock Restaurant – pasta and shrimp for Aventurero and cajun shrimp snacks for the Ts. Souvenir shopping accomplished, at least as much as possible, then back to Estrella del Mar. It’s late. The waves steadily wash up along the rock at the base of the hostal while a gecko hangs on the wall by the air conditioning unit.
Sleepy time. Lights out.