As promised, sunset at the equator on Friday, March 1
This was about 6:30 Friday evening as we were headed north around the northern end of Isabela Island.
Saturday began with a 6:15 snorkel near the boat. I saw my first spotted-eagle rays and a marbled ray but didn’t get very good pictures. Also, saw a small shark and a sea lion and lots of other fish. It was also a day for a short walk to hunt for the Galapagos hawk and luckily for us we found one and only one near the beach.
We hiked inland for about 30 minutes then returned to the beach. We could swim, snorkel or just sit on the beach. I chose to sit in the shade of a mangrove tree and watch the sand crabs do their work.
This was a wet landing for us so we had to scramble ashore and scramble back to our dingy without getting our backpacks wet and jump aboard.
After lunch there was another volcano climb and snorkel which I passed on. We weren’t looking for any new wildlife and I spent the time downloading most of my pictures and making entries into my diary.
Our captain, Milton, didn’t speak much English but he was always there to offer a helping hand aboard the boat when we returned from a dingy trip or he was at the helm.
The chef was also very friendly but, frankly, I thought the food was just average. I wasn’t expecting a Caribbean cruise-type menu but what we had was filling but just okay. Lots of rice. Rice with olives, rice with asparagus, rice with broccoli, etc. Lunch almost always started with some sort of hot soup followed by rice and something else. Dinner was more rice with chicken, beef, tuna steaks, casseroles, fruit, and a salad of some sort. We also had a dessert with dinner. Maybe I prejudice because I like desserts but I thought they were always good. I couldn’t pronounce our chef’s name but he tried with the budget he was allowed.
Saturday evening, a small pod of bottle-nosed dolphin started swimming with the boat. Everyone headed for the bow to try to get a good look as they were right under the ship.
It was a great end to the day.
Saturday evening’s briefing covered all of the wildlife we’d seen on the cruise and the list was extensive. I would guess there were 50 animals and birds on that list. I didn’t get any pictures of Galapagos penquins and didn’t see any when I was snorkeling although others did. I did see one or two along the rocks. We also talked about our plans for Day 8.
We were up for another 6:15 wet landing on Muscara Beach. It was time for sunrise on the beach and a sea lion colony.
We were back on board Guantanamera for breakfast at 7:15.
Our life on board was governed by the “bell”. We were called to meals, briefings, dingy rides, snorkeling, whatever the event. Whenever you heard the bell you knew you had to be somewhere. Someone….either the bartender…who served meals or the guide were the primary bell ringers. There wasn’t a wake up bell except for the two early dingy trips on Saturday and Sunday at 6:15. Those mornings our guide rang the bell at 6am.
Saturday night we received envelopes and an evaluation form on our bunks. You tipped the guide in one envelope and you tipped the crew in the other. The crew split their envelope eight ways. The guide got whatever you put in his. I don’t know if the crew split their amount equally or if there was a formula based on your job.
It’s called an 8 day 7 night cruise but Day 1 started for me at 5pm on Sunday when I came aboard and Day 8 ended for everyone at 8:45am. So it was really a 6 day/ 7 night cruise. It sounds better in the brochures the other way.
Sunday morning the boat dropped all of us at the ferry landing near the airport and provide bus transportation to the airport. All of had to go to the airport and either fly to their next destination or catch a bus back to Puerto Ayora. The boat was off to get cleaned up for the next group. The cruise was over.
I had tried to get my return flight to Quito changed while I was at the airport but the reservationist at the AeroGal ticket counter couldn’t do it. I had to go to the office in Puerto Ayora on Monday, yesterday.
I checked in to the same hotel I was supposed to stay at the previous Sunday…the Sir Francis Drake which is near downtown. It has air-conditioning and hot water. It is probably a low to mid-range hotel. I pay $35 per night. There are some places available for $10 and others I’ll show you some pictures of tomorrow for $150-$200 per night. Those are for people richer and older than me. Well, at least, richer. Okay?
The courtyard at the hotel.
In the next post I’ll show you around Puerto Ayora.