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Galapagos

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

GalapagosIt took us roughly 5 days to get from La Libertad, on the mainland of Ecuador, to Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz of the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are a part of Ecuador but we still had to check in and out of the country in between because we sailed through international waters. We ended up motoring all the way except for a few hours because there was no wind. Generally there is no wind around the equator, the area known as the doldrums. On the way to the Marquesas, our next stop in French Polynesia, we will have to sail south to 10 degrees to catch some wind.

The crew for voyage worked out well. Brad, who I met a week before, the other Internet pick-up crew member, is about my age and originally from Indiana. He spent the last six months or so teaching English literature at a school in Guayaquil. We all get along fine and do an equal share of the cooking and the dishes. Watches are 3 hours on and 6 hours off and since that amount, multiplied by 3, is not divisible by 24, means we each get different hours on different days, which I like because it means I get a change of scenery. Unfortunately, we only had two fish bites (dorados) the whole way. The first one got away while Brad was trying to get at it with the gaff. The second one broke off before we even had a chance to snag it. I’m hoping we’ll have more luck the rest of the way; the rice, pasta and canned tuna is already getting tired.

I saw a canvas of stars that I’ve never seen before, those of the southern hemisphere. Even the ones I was familiar with were hard to recognize farther down on the northern horizon. The Southern Cross I saw for the first time ever.

So far in the Galapagos, I went to the Charles Darwin Research Station and saw the famous giant tortoises and iguanas. Darwin is viewed as a hero here with his Santa Claus-esque image appearing on murals and streets and businesses named after him. I’ve been reading Voyage of the Beagle, his account of a circumnavigation he took where he stopped here on the way, and accidentally famed these curious islands. I’ve seen it written that here is where he had his “eureka” moment about evolution as if he just thought of it on the spot, but that’s an extreme over-exaggeration. He didn’t write On the Origin of Species until decades later. While the Galapagos were important to his theory because they offered such a different natural history than the continents, it was all of his years of experience, studying life everywhere that helped him form his theory.

Today, while Tom was off scuba-diving, Brad and I rented bikes and wound up riding as high as we could. When the trail became too rough and steep, we locked the bikes and walked. We made it to the second highest peak (860 meters, the highest being 864). From the summit we could see Puerto Ayora to the south and Isla Baltra, (the airport) to the north. I took off my shirt half way because it was dripping with sweat. I wrung it out and could have filled a cup with my sweat. Farther up the air became misty and cool. On the way back down we rode through a rain cloud and got soaked for 10 minutes but by the time we reached the coast, there was no more rain. The clouds seemed to rest permanently half way up the island.

We plan on leaving Tuesday, assuming customs and immigration doesn’t hold us up. The next leg of our trip will be the longest without land. Almost 3000 miles to the Marquesas, roughly 3 to 4 weeks depending on the wind. Don’t expect any updates for a while.

Comments

  1. dad Says:

    Happy birtday

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