Friday, August 30, 2013

July 22nd

Monday the  22nd, good  bye  to the Galapagos  Up at 6:15,  checked bags in the hall  by  6:30. Go Ahead took  care of  handling  the  bags all the way to Quito, which  was  very  nice. We  took only our carry  ons by dingy to  Santa  Cruz and got  on  small buses to see  the  giant  tortoise  preserve. Santa Cruz has some private property, part of the 2%  of  the  islands that is not national park. We saw a few homes and some small farms. The farmers grow some  crops  and raise cattle, pigs and  chickens.   I noticed some trash along the road and saw 2 dogs. The whole island is a preserve for  the  tortoises  and  no fences  are  allowed.  The  reserve  is  in the  highlands  and  because  of  the  cloud cover  it is much wetter than the coast. In fact we drove thru  a  light  shower and  the  trail  was wet. At  the  preserve we saw 5 or 6 tortoises, in one small  pond. Indira said they were all males because the females are off laying their eggs. The females come and  mate,  then  walk for about 2  weeks to the  drier  lowlands, dig a nest, lay from 3 to 6 eggs, bury them , then maybe  walk back  to mate  again. They  may  lay  up  to 4  clutches  of  eggs  in a  season.  But  they  don't  care  for the  young. Once they  are  hatched they fend for  themselves, their major predators  are  feral  mammals  and the  Galapagos Hawk.   Those that survive to maturity will return to the same areas as their mothers to breed. The highlands are very green and lush, I  saw  several different types of flowers and lots of vegetation. In the same area we went into a lava tube, sort of a natural tunnel formed by a river of lava hitting ground water and cooling on top but continuing to flow under the crust due to the heat of the magma. There were bones to look at and 3 big tortoise shells we could climb into and have our pictures taken. We had a small owl on top of the stalls in the bathroom. Back on the bus, I don't know if it was the radio or a tape but the driver was playing the Dead. I asked him "quien es?" but he didn't know.

Then we took a ferry back to Baltra, flew to Guayaquil, had a short lay over and then flew back to Quito. The ship was nice, the crew did everything to make us comfortable, all the excursions were well organized and we saw a lot. But, I will be glad to take a good shower and sleep in a big bed tonite. Tomorrow a lot of the group is going on a bus tour to a volcano, but I opted out. I need to get away from all these people for a little while. Hope to blog, rest, organize for Peru and maybe get a massage.

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