Wowzers. It’s difficult to express how fabulously surreal it was to set foot on a Galapagos Island, and the feeling didn’t wear off the entire time we were there. I’m sure anyone who studied Darwin in school can relate, which is maybe everyone? Unimportant. I’m going to stop talking and start in with the pictures, because there are a lot of them. You’ll probably want to get a snack.
From Guayaquil, we Uber’ed, then flew, then bussed, then boated, then bussed again, finally ending up on Isla Santa Cruz. It’s the second largest, and most populated of the islands. Our first stop was the Darwin Research Center, where there’s lots of tortoise breeding and rehabilitating going on. Here’s Charles doing his best “curious traveler” impression:
I couldn’t stop watching the giant tortoises, which, for the record, are the most fantastically boring things walking on four legs. But somehow, you can’t stop watching. Hard to explain.
In the afternoon, we went to the most pristine white sand beach I’ve ever seen. I had an opportunity to take a dead turtle picture to balance with all these living things. It was so good! His intestines were inflated and blown out his back end like a giant balloon. I wanted to take a picture, but Charles convinced me that we’d get it on the way back. Huge mistake! Someone had disappeared it in the interim, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations. Saw this cool (disappointingly) living thing, though:
We booked a tour for the next day to see Isla Bartolomé, which included some rad snorkeling and walking around on lava fields. I could stare at this stuff forever:
So cosmic. There was an underwater caldera, with colors that looked like photoshop overkill:
And we made some lovely friends (hey Jen, Adolfo, and Bev!), who were kind enough to take our picture from the top:
The next day, we took a “ferry” to Isla Isabela to spend a few days. I say “ferry” because it was really just a medium-sized speed boat, packed to the gills with humans. But it got us where we were going, so that’s important.
There was this beautiful lagoon, with mangroves and junk:
Our second day on Isla Isabela, we booked a trip out to see an area where lava tunnels had formed on the coast of the island. During the boat ride over, we slowed down to watch this manta ray. A google search tells me they do flips like this to push plankton into their mouths when there’s not much current. Doesn’t matter, it was rad to watch.
We walked around for a bit on the lava, and saw some boobies. Like, for reals boobies:
They get blue feet from having a diet full of carotenoids, and they do a hilarious dance to show them off when they’re trying to attract the ladies. This guy was protecting his bird wife, who was sitting on a couple of eggs nearby. We also saw this baby boobie:
They don’t get fancy feet until they’re older, so this guy is cursed with surviving on his fluff for the time being.
We posed for a lava tube bridge shot:
Our guide promised us that absolutely everyone has their picture taken in this spot.
Once we flopped into the water for some snorkeling, things got ridiculous.
We didn’t have underwater recording devices, but our guide did, so the following are his work.
Sea turtle, who is most definitely judging you right now:
We saw piles of these (non-human consuming) white tip sharks:
And sea turtles that were as tall as I am, swimming like magical angels:
Another day, we took a walk to see some flamingos, which were exactly as odd as I remember them being at Disney Land. But no one really cares about flamingos, right? Luckily, there were more tortoises and iguanas! This dude was sitting on a bridge, so Charles sat down with him to see what’s what.
We saw some road tortoises:
And we ended up at a turtle sanctuary, where there were some amazing things happening. For one, we captured this MMA-style action:
Also, this devastatingly upside down little guy:
I really hope one of his buddies helped him out eventually. After watching him for 20 minutes, we couldn’t take the sadness anymore. Luckily, our moods were bolstered by the fact that the people running the sanctuary embrace the reality of their purpose enough to have this sign on their visitor center:
Another day on Isabela, we rented some bikes and visited some cool spots in the highlands of the island. Charles made friends with these fellas:
And we stopped by these massive sinkholes:
AND we walked through some giant lava tubes:
We spent a day doing a hike on Volcan Sierra Negra, which was supposed to erupt imminently. Alas, we did not have the opportunity to flee for our lives, since volcanoes don’t care about once in a human lifetime photo opportunities.
This is one of the largest examples of (whatever it is) in the world. Very cool.
And this was the view from the top. So much volcano, and so little Charles:
I’m almost done, swear it! Just a few random things left. Charles in a random lava tube lake:
Sea mammals relaxing super hard:
These guys almost destroyed me with their lounge skills:
This short video is for all of you out there who hate mouth noises:
And that’s the end! We’re heading out in the morning for a four day backpacking trip to a volcanic crater lake, so that will be next up in the chronicles.