Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 2: To Galapagos!

Note: Because I had no internet connection on the boat, I'm posting these about a week after they actually happened. I'll post one Galapagos post each day, followed by Machu Picchu posts, so you can live vicariously through my diaries and photos.

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The Quito airport is smaller than it seemed the other day. It has four gates, all next to one another, and all leading to the tarmac, where we walked to our plane. However, the plane was bigger than I expected; the US left a big airstrip on Baltra Island after World War II, so we were able to travel by jet (737). The Baltra airport is little more than a roof with customs agents checking passports (travel to Galapagos is considered emigration). After that, we took a shuttle bus a short distance to the harbor, where we boarded the Yolita II.

Our home for the next week is a 115 ft yacht with 11 cabins for 16 passengers and three crew members; the rest of the crew (7 people?) must sleep below. I'm in one of the 4 single rooms, below deck; my parents are in a double room on the main deck. There are 4 or 5 more rooms on the upper deck. Each room has a bathroom. My parents' room has a window with a view. My room has a window slightly larger than the book I'm reading, and you have to stand on the bed to see out. The common space includes a dining area and some sofas inside on the main deck, and a lounging area (covered, but otherwise open, with pool and patio chairs) on the upper deck. I'll be spending a lot of time there, I think.

After a snack, a short cruise, and an introductory talk, we had some rest time (which included a safety drill), and then we took the pangas (aka zodiacs, rubber boats) to Bachas Beach. It was named from the mispronunciation of "barges", because the remains of WWII barges poke through the sand. The sand is soft and squishy; the water clear and warm. We strolled along the beach and took pictures of a few animals. Some highlights:  a marine iguana crossed my path, a lava lizard did push-ups for us, and the sally lightfoot crabs didn't totally run away when we got near. The beaches were crowded with Pacific green sea turtle nests, and the frigate birds keep flying slowly overhead, looking for hatchlings that thought it was night already. When the clouds gathered and we were swimming, they finally caught one.

After our outing, we set sail around Baltra Island to a northeast area off the coast of Santa Cruz, where we stopped for dinner and for the night. At 4am we'll start off again, headed toward South Plaza Island, for Iguana Day.

From Galapagos1-Baltra and Bachas

Click here for the full day's album.

See vacation summary (with links to each day).

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