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.