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Nick and Bec's Big Trip Starting on the 29th of June 2008 Bec and I will be starting a year long adventure, spending 6 months in Africa and another 6 months in South America. It should be lots of fun.

Natural Selection: Survival of the Fittest

ECUADOR | Saturday, 30 May 2009 | Views [699] | Comments [3]

We are in Ecuador, leaving tomorrow for Columbia.  Since I wrote last we have been to Machu Picchu, flown over the Nasca lines, popped into Lima and hopped on a plane to Quito.  Here in Ecuador we have been to The Galapagos and the Amazon jungle.

Here are some diary entries relating to our eight day sail around The Galapagos.  A huge test for me as I have no sea legs what-so-ever.  I have some new friends now, called Dramamine.  Wonderfull stuff.  I consider myself an ultimate test for a motion sickness drug.  I was even offered an opportunity to get off the boat for the evening and I turned it down!

So read on.

We are here, The Galapagos, about 30 minutes south of the equator and 90 degrees west of the Greenwich Meridian.  The water is aquamarine and the sky is deep blue with clouds of white to grey, the islands are a combination of green flora with black volcanics.

First views of the boat.

Is that it?  Surely not.  It can´t be that small.  How am I going to survive on that thing for a week, well eight days to be precise!  There must be a bigger more stable looking craft around here somewhere.

These were my initial thoughts on seeing the good ship Sulidae our chosen vessel for our tour of The Galapagos.  What have I let myself in for?

20th May - Day 8, Overnight to Isla Daphne Meyor and to see the giant tortoises in the wild.

Wow, last night was a really rough crossing.  I think Marlo was sick and a couple of the others were not feeling so good.  As for me, my wonder drugs did the trick and I even managed to stay on deck for a while chatting away to Charlie the US oil man from Oaklahoma whilst the boat was pitching into the sea and rolling heavily from port to starboard and back again.

Eventually I gave up and made the bold move for towards my bunk.  It took a fair amount of effort not to fall over the side holding on with grim determination to the railing and cabin roof.  I made it to the top of the stairs and bracing myself gingerly descended trying to go with the motion of the boat.  Through the kitchen and past the dining table I did a u-turn into our cabin and went to the bathroom with carefull aim.  Decided not to clean my teeth for fear of poking an eye out and getting smacked in the head by our possessed bathroom cabinet mirror.  I changed into my pjamas immitating a contorted trapese artist and fell into bed.  I decided the ´recovery position´would give me the best chance of staying in bed and not rolling out into the isle.  Lying in bed hoping for immediate sleep I heard Bec muttering curses as the bathroom door slammed shut on her fingers during a dramatic roll to starboard.  Ouch!

So I did fall asleep and slept well apart from being partly crushed by my falling pack and getting covered in damp towels and wet swimmers sometime during the night.  Ah the fun of boat travel.

Morning did arrive, not soon enough, but did eventually turn up.  The sea was calm and we had nearly reached Isla Daphne Meyor, a tough cone or some other type of volcanic feature a few kilometres of the shore of Isla Santa Cruz.

The Captain took the Sulidae within a few metres of the small island giving us great views of the Blue Footed Boobies, a gull type bird with strikingly blue feet as the name implies.  Over head were Scissor Tailed Frigate birds and Pelicans eyeing the sea for a potential breakfast.  After a loop of the island we headed for the channel or canal between Isla Baltra and the larger Isla Santa Cruz.  Departing the ship by panga for a short minibus ride to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

We wandered through a reserve of sorts following our guide Jorje finding numerous tortoises amongst bushes and scrub going about their daily lives.  The largest tortoises we found must have been about 220 kilos, a monster, and estimated at 80 years old.  No one really knows.  Anyway, middle aged if estiamtes are correct as they can live to around 150 years old.

Before heading back to the ship, to collect our packs as this was our last day of our sail, we walked through some giant lava tunnels.  Probably 3 to 4 metres high, created long ago by a long forgotten eruption.  They were impressive to see and gave some idea of the scale of eruptions in the past.

So that concluded our eight day sail around The Galapagos, seeing giant tortoises, swimming with playfull sea lions, watching turtles and marine iguanas feed under water, staring wide eyed through a diving mask at 40 or so White Tipped Sharks and seeing Darwin´s Finches, prime examples of his theory of evolution.  Incredible.

So are the Galapagos of today what Darwin saw after he stepped off the Beagle in the 19th Century?  No, definately not.  Not even if you imagine no half completed concrete buldings, drab hotels, plastic cruise boats and envitable rubbish of a plastic drinks bottle.  During the early colonisation of the islands over 100,000 tortoises were slaughtered for meat and for oil, some species were probably wiped out and for others there are only a few left and for the Pinta tortoise, only Lonesome George recovered from a California zoo exists.

It can be depressing to read about the destruction caused by introduced animals: ants, goats, cats, dogs and cattle to name a few.  A huge problem in itself.

So there is wildlife, but it doesn´t teem with wildlife as Darwin would have found it.  Not all the beaches are pristine as Darwin would have found them.  And so on.  Sighing loudly and taking stock of what I have seen and the measures the authorities are taking to protecting what is left I say it is still The Galapagos and it exists.  It along with other people and places in the world, such as the Wallace line in northern Australiasia, has changed the way we look at the natural history and how it was created.

So to conclude!  I was not sick!  Bec was!  I have survived!

Comments

1

had a good laugh Nick, all that rock'n roll'n!!
and you survived, hope Bec takes one of your pills on the next boat trip. Not sure about swimming with sharks though!

  maureen May 30, 2009 3:19 PM

2

Great Account - Excellent that you coped with your new friend! I did laugh at the end when you said Bec was sick! Poor Bec

  Pat May 30, 2009 10:47 PM

3

Great reading Nick,a natural history lesson! Glad the pills worked for you

  sue Jun 2, 2009 6:11 AM

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