Friday, May 26, 2006

Cycling over Oranges

When I'd imagined the Galapagos I thought we'd discover a few earnest scientists in makeshift tents and maybe we'd chance upon David Attenborough and a film crew.
So I was ill-prepared for a settlement complete with a one-way system, water taxis and internet cafes. That said we've enjoyed its comforts, particularly the cafes and it's not exactly overrun with tourists - there appear to be more taxis than visitors. As we set sail for Isabela the lights of Wreck Bay quickly faded behind us and it became apparent that the vast majority of the Island is uninhabited and left to the tortoises, and other endemic species.

We had a great time in San Cristobal. On our penultimate day we cycled from the highlands to the anchorage, refreshing ourselves on the wild fruit as we descended. It's a first for me to pick and eat oranges directly from a tree.
Although our search for mangoes was unsuccessful we feasted on guava, crab apples and blackberries. They are all introduced species, but the blackberries are particularly virulent with our guide describing them as a "plaga" - a plague.

We've also ventured beneath the water, starting with a refresher dive in the harbour. Sea-lions accompanied us throughout and appeared fascinated by us; darting around us and mimicking us as we practised buoyancy control on the bottom. Sea lions here are as numerous as sheep in the Lake District, but their antics are no-less intriguing for their numbers.

The practice dive was followed by a boat trip to Kicker Rock in company with our fellow cruisers. We had a couple of fantastic dives seeing Galapagos sharks, turtles, the odd ray and a multitude of other fish.It's also been great fun watching life in town. When the supply ships arrive they anchor in the bay then everything is ferried ashore in small skiffs. The pier quickly fills up with crates of fruit and veg, building supplies, fridges etc.
offloading supplies

During our stay in San Cristobal a familiar vessel arrived in the anchorage almost every day providing the existing boats with an excuse for a celebration.
One of the most intriguing Galapagos species we've encountered is the blue-footed booby. Their feet are bright blue like they've just stepped in a puddle of paint. When we arrived in the anchorage in Isabela, we were greeted by a large flock, on a feeding frenzy, dive bombing the water around us.

Yesterday we arranged to head up to the volcanoes in Isabela. The trip involved an hour pick-up ride across dust tracks then an hour and a half on horseback. In the event there was some confusion between our guide and the national park officials and we ended up on a truncated tour back to the horse-owner's farm. After the first ten minutes or so of equestrian acclimatisation I started to enjoy the ride and for once my steed appeared to respond to my will. Fortunately I'm not too stiff this morning, although Ellen appears to be a little bruised, and there was I worried that my childhood devoid of junior-gymkhanas would put me at a disadvantage!

Isabela anchorage: S00°57.90' W90°57.73'

1 comment:

texbrit said...

Fantastic. Being fascinated by nature I've always wanted to visit Galapagos, still on my list. Looks and sounds liek a great time.