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We left the boat at 6am this morning for a short hike around Floreana Island. It was nice to get out before the heat, and there weren't too many mosquitos today. We saw a reef shark from the beach and some flamingos in a pond. But the real highlight was the beach itself: it's a green beach, because some of the sand is composed of green olivine crystals. They're made from magnesium, silicon, and iron. They look like tiny rounded pieces of green sea glass.
After a short rest, we returned to the green beach for snorkeling. I saw lots of fish and started to recognize some, though I couldn't name them. I also saw some chocolate chip sea stars and a couple others I didn't recognize. And I got sun burned on my bum, even though I put on sunblock.
After lunch, we went to a different part of Floreana to see Post Office Bay. This is where, in 1793, a whaler left a barrel and marked it on a map as a mode of communication for passing ships. Ships going out to sea could leave letters, and ships going back home could pick them up and deliver them. Now they carry on the tradition (though with a new barrel) by allowing visitors to leave unstamped postcards, and pick up others for hand-delivery. I didn't find any going to anywhere in Connecticut that I knew. My parents found one going to Long Beach, but decided that was too far. There were a lot going to Europe.
There are two other interesting things near Post Office Bay: First, there's a sand soccer field, where our ship's crew was playing another crew. I don't know who won. It was really hot and there were mosquitos in the shade, so I didn't stick around to watch very long. Second, Floreana is where the some settlers lived when they came here in the 1920s to 1930s. It's all very strange and shady. Basically, this doctor (dentist) ran away here with his lover so they could have an island life complete with nudity. Then a guy and his wife came for similar reasons, and had a baby in a cave. Then this baroness came with her two lovers and an Ecuadorian hired to build their house. The Ecuadorian got away quickly, but the rest of them started quarreling, mostly because everybody came to have an island to themselves. The baroness made herself queen of the island, and one of her lovers went crazy. Eventually, the baroness disappeared, and nobody can prove that anyone else killed her. I'm mutilating the story, but basically the only one left is the baby born in the cave. He lives on another island now.
|Photo from Rolf Wittmer's website; read the true story there.|
We traveled the rest of the afternoon to the southern coast of Santa Cruz, to the largest city in Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. Tomorrow we'll go to the Charles Darwin Research Station and have free time in the city, but a few of us got a jump on things and went tonight. All we did was walk around and go in some shops. It was exciting, like a big night in the city, where we could be extravagant and buy insect repellent. I'll be happy to have machine-washed clothes when I get home, and not have to apply sunblock four times daily.
Click here for the whole day's album.
See vacation summary (with links to each day).