Its been a long day. Called Olivia last night for the last time I will hear her voice for eight days. That alone seems strange to me and being cutoff from the outside world is an experience in itself.
Woke up at 5 AM for breakfast and then it was off to the airport in Guayaquil for our three hour flight to the Galapagos. I have always dreamed about going to the Galapagos and see and learn how and why these small islands changed the world. Our yacht has two posters of local wildlife and the posters ask the question “When was the last time you saw something for the first time?” As you get older that question becomes much more difficult to answer. Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to see things for the first time in many places around the world. Part of my photography tries to bring these unique places, people and animals to others and show others how I visually see those things for the first time.
Our Avianca flight took off from Guayaquil at 8:30. The Galapagos is one hour behind the rest of Ecuador or two hours behind the eastern time zone. Of course, I immediately fell asleep. Three hours later I felt the airplane landing at Baltra Airport on the island of Santa Cruz. Baltra Airport was a U.S. military base from 1840 until after the second world war. You can still see some of the concrete bunkers. The U.S. then handed over the base to the Ecuadorian government. Before we left Guayaquil, we were each given a packet. Inside the packet was our pass to enter the Galapagos and all the detail about our stay and for how long and what we will be doing. The amount of people is limited and you need to make reservations very far in advance. Furthermore, yachts both small and large are only allowed to follow two island by island itineraries. Landings are limited based on the size of your vessel and the number of people per landing is also limited. Fortunately, our group is sixteen and we are on a small yacht so all of us can go on each landing. Similar to Antartica. Going through the registration process is fast and simple. Our paperwork was already done for us and the entrance fees were paid for.
Our Ecuadorian naturalist and guide, named Pablo, met us and we all followed him out the terminal to a large van. Our luggage was taken from us and the van took us to a small dock area. Our yacht was anchored in the harbor. We were each given a life preserver to wear and then boarded two zodiacs. Zodiacs are called “Pangas”. I will continue to use that word during the course of my writings. We each sat on the outside of the Panga and the person driving the Panga took us toward our yacht. Before we boarded our yacht we took a short trip to some cliffs and saw some blue footed boobies. This is the first of many creatures that are new to me. Their feet are this beautiful color of baby blue. There were also grey penguins diving for fish.
We finally drove back to our yacht and boarded the “Natural Paradise”. There were two or three other small yachts also boarding. We were first given a lecture on safety. We had to leave our shoes outside. They are all on stands. Shoes are not allowed in the yacht. My room is nice and the crew is very helpful.
We were first served lunch and then we had down time until 3 PM. I took a nice hit shower and shave and went upstairs to the sun deck to lay on a long chair. The air is very dry and you do not sweat, but you can feel the intensity of the sun. Don’t forget, the Galapagos is on the Equator. We have been told we will be criss crossing the Equator at least five times. That means going back and forth from the southern to the northern hemisphere. I fell asleep on the sun deck and the warm sun felt so soothing. I was later told that my nose got quite red and a need to put lots of sun block on.
At three we all met on the sundeck to be fitted for our wetsuits and snorkeling gear. The water is not warm and is cooled by the Humbolt current.
At four we all boarded to Pangas for a two hour trip around the western coast of Santa Cruz Island and a place called “Eden Islet”. We went into a small mangrove area and I saw crabs named “Sally Lightfoot Crabs”. They are named this way for the way they walk. They are so colorful and different. The rocks are all volcanic lava. The Galapagos is the home to quite a few volcanoes. We then saw lots of terns and penguins doing their diving act. It seemed like the two hours went quickly and then it was back to the boat. At 6:45 were were given a thirty minute talk on the next days activities. The day is packed with adventure and our wake up vis at 6 AM.
I can’t wait to see the rest of these amazing and different islands. I feel like I have entered a different kind of world and hope my photography does this experience justice.