Adventures in South America

Chapter 11 - "Conquering" the Galapagos Islands

We quote our guide book: "The Galapagos Archipelago is world famous for its incredibly fearless and unique wildlife. Here, you can swim with sea lions, float eye-to- eye with a penguin, stand next to a blue-footed booby feeding its young, watch a giant 200-kg tortoise lumbering through a cactus forest, and try to avoid stepping on iguanas scurrying over the lava. The wildlife is truly phenomenal. The scenery is barren and volcanic, and has a haunting beauty all its own - though some find it bare and ugly. A visit to the Galapagos is for the wilderness and wildlife enthusiast, not for the average sun-seeker."

Sounds cooooool, ain't it ??? so we fly directly from Guayaquil to the Galapagos islands (booking a cruise from the main land is very expensive. Normally you can get on the spot much better deals). From other travelers, we already know which boats are better, and what the prices are. Our plan is to arrive at the biggest village, Puerto Ayora, and from there, try to find a cruise which will start on the following day.

We land on the islands. The airport is small (similar in size to Eilat's airport) and we find ourselves very quickly outside of it, where there are several stands of boat-owners, who are trying to sell cruises. Here we encounter Victor for the first time. Victor doesn't work for a spesific boat owner. He found a "niche" for himself to make his livings from - he is the "last minute deals" man. For a commission he sells for boat owners the very last seats (or more accurate - cabins) of cruises. And Victor has a special offer for us !!!

Victor has the last vacant cabin on board in the "Free Enterprise" boat. The boat is on a weekly tour and is on it's 4th day. We can join in now, and continue for one more week, as the boat is planned to make the same tour next week too. Not only the boat is a first class boat: air-conditioned, large (which means convenient since the bigger the boat is, the less it moves because of the waves), but it is also recommended by our "colleagues" (fellow-travelers). It sounds like a good deal, and we want to see the boat and the cabin. Victor brings us to the boat, which docking right now next to the airport. The boat is nice, big and when we enter into "our" cabin, cold air-conditioned wind welcomes our sweating bodies.

Perfect. And like that the Free Enterprise becomes our "Love Boat". Wow !!!

We feel that today is our lucky day. Not only because we found a perfect boat, but also because we did it on the spot, and thus saved one day.

The first small island we visit, is "North Symor". On the dock, several friendly sea lions are welcoming us. It's amazing to see these animals so close to you (theoretically we can touch them, they aren't afraid of us, human beings ! but since the Ecuadorians want to conserve that situation, tourists are obliged to stay on marked trails and must not touch any of the animals.) As we walk further into the island, we see more and more fearless animals. Unbelievable !!! And it's so easy to photograph them !!! During the 2 hours visit on the island I finish almost 2 rolls of 36 exposures... On the island we see frigate-birds. Normally big, black and quite ugly "turkey-like" birds, but now, (don't you remember that today is our lucky day ???) they are courting each other. Courting is by blowing a huge shocking-red balloon below their necks. Like that the males are standing on the trees, stretching their necks upwards, showing "their" balloon to the females who are flying above. When a female finds a nice balloon, she lands and is willing to mate with the bird attached to it. Also flying males are nice to see, since they look more like flying balloons than birds...

Another funny bird is the Blue Footed Booby, and especially now, (don't you remember that today is our lucky day ???) when they are feeding their young. These booby birds have blue legs that although you can see it clearly, you cannot believe it. It really doesn't look real. Maybe during the nights the Ecuadorians sneak into the islands and paint these booby legs ??? (like the Israeli song "מכופף הבננות"). And these boobies abuse us, the travelers that are forced to walk only on the trails ! they build their nests in the middle of the trails, just like that, on the ground ! And poor us, we have to walk like ducks in order not to harm these stupid sadistic birds !

Another funny bird is the Blue Footed Booby.

In the evening we sit down to eat dinner with the other tourists. They are so kind and one of them, Fernando the Doctor, is so funny. It really looks like our lucky day today !!!

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Last modified: Fri Jun 10th 13:03:08 IST 1999