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Memories will be made of this.....

Islas Galapagos

ECUADOR | Monday, 3 May 2004 | Views [610]

Well this is the last one.  After 4 and a bit months of travelling and seeing some amazing things, meeting wonderful people and all that, it is time to venture back home and join the dole queue.
The last week has been spent on the Galapagos Islands - a set of islands made famous by Charles Darwin (who officially worked out all about the evolution process there - and not a bad place to do it).  We spent a few days chilling out in Puerto Ayora and doing a bit of sunbathing.  The beaches there were beautiful and even though it was deserted with human life on them, you were never completely alone (mainly trying to dodge the ghost crabs and marvel at the iguanas, birds and other wildlife who seemed intent to get their tan too).  
We also went to the Charles Darwin Research Station on the island.  The most famous thing about this place is that it has been the home of Lonesome George for the last 25 years.  Lonesome George is one of the many giant tortoises in the Galapagos.  However, unlike the other 10 species of tortoise there, Lonesome George is the last of his kind and they have been trying to find a mate for him for years - but he isn't interested and refuses to get dirty with anyone.  Due to all the goats, pigs and cows that were introduced to the islands, all his relatives were killed and he seems a bit distraught about the whole situation.  However, he isn't the oldest tortoise on the island (only about 75 years old) or the heaviest (only 300 kilos), but is the main draw and a reason why a lot of people get their money out to help try and find this elusive mate.  Also there were lots of giant tortoises and many baby ones (in the Galapagos, they try and take the eggs from the wild habitat and raise them in the Research Station, as otherwise the eggs are usually eaten by the birds.  The tortoises are then released back into the wild at about 4 years of age). 
After a couple of days, it was time to get on our cruise.  We had booked on a first class boat called 'Eden' which, even though there was officially enough room for 16 people on the boat, it was with some relief that there were only 8 of us (4 from the UK, 2 from Ireland and 2 from Austria).  Over the next four days, we moved around the islands and saw some amazing wildlife.   Amongst the animals were countless blue footed boobies (they are really called that and are amazing looking birds with the cutest blue feet), hundreds of sea lions (often when in the water, where they got so close to you snorkeling), flamingoes, sea turtles, masked boobies, thousands of fish, albatrosses and lots of other birds.  It was just a really good way to spend the last few days of our trip.  However, travelling over night from destination to destination wasn't the nicest thing as you never knew if when you were to wake up, if it was to be on the bed or on the floor (as the sea was quite choppy - all to do with the many different currents coming from the different oceans around the islands).  On most afternoons, while the tourists were busy watching lots of animals, the crew on board were usually catching giant fish (one day we came back and there was a 20 kilo yellow finned tuna on the landing deck of the ship - particularly tasty that evening) and i've never eaten so much fish over such short an amount of time (edit - which at the time was really nice, but after 5 lack of sleep nights because of it, I'm reassessing).
After getting back from the boat trip, we got the flight back to Quito.  I think we all got sea-legs, as no-one was feeling to great about being on land (where nothing moves and you're not constantly trying to lean in the right direction).  Our last two days were spent in Quito - buying a few things and generally chilling out in the decent hotel, watching TV (as neither us were feeling too good - damn fish..).  And then magically after a couple of stops on the Quito-Guayaquil-Madrid-London, I turned up back in the UK - safely landed and a bus journey (£8 for half an hour - rip off..) and taxi ride later (the original plan being to get a cab from Heathrow.  However this was thwarted by the promise that it would cost £95 - I got around the whole of Argentina on less than that in transport costs...note to self : must stop moaning) and turned up to surprise mother on her birthday.
So, I've been back about a day.  It has already rained, been cold and right now on a Bank Holiday afternoon I'm wearing my fleece as it's a bit chilly.  The M25 seems a bit like a caravan park and there's a bit more gossip in the tabloids.  
Thanks to all the people who've kept me up-to-date with their lives (it's been an interesting change from nme.com or bbc.co.uk). And please try and keep in touch and i'll do my very best to.

Tags: I should have known better!

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