Galapagos Day 7: Penguins & Volcanos

Written By: jeff

Posted On: September 19th, 2010

career break, career break travel, career break advice, travel the world, Ecuador travel, the galapagos islands

Bartolomeo Island at sunrise. Copyright

Today started early to explore Bartolomeo Island.  We were on board the rafts by 6:10AM.   The penguins of Galapagos are early risers to get their fishing done before it gets too hot.  Granted at this time of year, the temperature only rises to about 22-25 degrees C (about 70-78 degrees F), but during the hot and rainy season from February through April, temperatures can soar to 35 degrees C/95 degrees F.  But, habits are habits and now was the time for us to see a few of these tiny creatures.

It wasn’t long before we spotted our first penguins – two little guys just hanging out on the rocky shore.  As we drifted snapping photos and admiring them, we saw a third a little further over.  And, then a fourth in his little lava cave still asleep.  I’m not sure of their exact size, but they couldn’t have been taller than a foot or so – maybe less.

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Penguins on Bartolomeo Island. Copyright

We continued on and landed at a small jetty.  We walked along a planked walkway as we ascended a small hill.  Along the way, we saw a few geological items of note and explanations of the islands formations.  Once atop the hill, we got a 360-degree view of the island and the bay where our boat was moored.  We headed back down and headed back to the boat for breakfast.

By 9:15AM we were back on the rafts to head to Santiago Island.  We landed at a sandy beach and dropped our stuff to traverse the land.  The terrain on the island was pure volcanic rock – barely broken up since the lava created it.  It reminded me of walking on Kilauea on the island of Hawaii years ago.  There were a few pioneer plants that had started to take root, but for the most part, the ground was black.

Just as my toe really started giving me a hard time, we turned back and I raced back to the beach to give my toe some relief.  We brought our snorkel gear and we were quickly in the water.  The cool water felt great on my toe.  We saw a few fish around the shore, but not as spectacular as yesterday.  I headed back to shore to see if I could swim back to the boat.  This proved to be a popular alternative to others so about 12 out of the 16 of us jumped into the water and we headed for the boat.  We swam past a few starfish and even a turtle swimming about 20-30 feet below us.  Once onboard, many of us went for a jump off the boat.  It took me a couple of attempts and finally, I walked to the edge and stepped off.  Out of my three jumps, this was my best.

Afterwards, others convince me that I had to lance my toenail to relieve the pressure.  So, with alcohol, a clean needle, a lighter and plenty of napkins at the ready, I pierced the nail.  We’ll see if it helps.  I put a little alcohol on it which made the entire nail bed sting.  Hopefully, this stinging is worth it.

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Staff of the Monserrat II. Copyright

After lunch, we started a leisurely sail back to Santa Cruz where we will be disembarking tomorrow morning.  At our evening briefing, Sara, Molly, Emilie and I (the four Americans) made a quick farewell speech thanking the crew for all they had done for us.  They really seemed to like it.  Here’s the transcript.

Estimada tripulación:

Queremos decirles a Uds muchisimas gracias por todo lo que hicieron esta semana para nostoros.  Les agredecemos y todo lo que cada uno de Uds hizo para hacer esta siete dias especial y inolvidable: las jiras fantasticas, la comida rica, el servicio maravilloso, la excelente condicion del barco (excepto el compartamento en cuarto 2), sus cuentos lleno de historia y chistes, las conversaciones con Uds., los cuartos y al fin pero no al menos las bebidas y vielitas que no nos dieron chuchaquis.

Para nosotros, Monserrat significa más que el nombre del barco.  Significa el espiritu del barco.  Como asi? ¿Quizás estan preguntándose?  Vamos a ver.

  • M es para MANO.  El acto de dar la mano es simboloco de amistad y ayuda.  Y cada día nos dieron las manos para atendernos, cuando bajábamos o subíamos y todas las veces cuando la necesitamos.
  • O es para ONDA.  Todo Uds tienen una buena onda y la hace una buena experencia para nosotros.  Este sentimiento viene de encima de una organizacion buena y al dentro del corazon.
  • N es para NOCHE.  Despues de dias lleno de actividades, teníamos la oportunidad conversar entre nosotros y con Uds.  Tambien, teniamos la oportunidad ver las estrellas, ver peliculas y tomar unas bebidas.
  • S es para SABOR.  Disfrutamos mucho la comida – los desayunos, almuerzos y cenas.  No esperamos tan riquisima comida.  Y no podemos olividar las obras de vegetales servido con las cenas de todos los animales.  Era una buena detalle que nos sorprendió y disfrutamos mucho.
  • E es para EXCURSION.  Cada dia nos trajó algo diferente y divertido.  Descubrimos mucho que no sabíamos antes.  Gracias especialmente a nuestro guia, Williams, y a Gabriel y Luis por manejar las pangas.
  • R es para REGOCIJO.  Nos dieron mucho regocijo en este viaje y llevamos con nosotros memorias excelentes para todo nuestras putas vidas.
  • R es para el RESTO DE LOS PASAJEROS.  Esta experencia no hubiera sido el mismo sin los otros pasajeros: pasados y presentes.  Y aunque pocos pueden cacharnos ahorita, les agredecemos tambien.
  • A es para ANIMALES Y AVES. ¿Como será los Galapagos sin los animales y aves que se ubican en las islas?  Los lobos, tortugas, iguanas, lagartos, tiburones, y todos de los aves, peces y insectos.  Dan el caracter, la drama, la acción a las islas.  Y hubieramos tenido la oportunidad conocer muchos de ellos.
  • T es para TRIPULACIÓN.  Al final pero no al menos, todo de Uds hicieron esta experencia muy, pero muy especial para cada uno de nosotros.  Si no les dijimos gracias cuando debemos, lo sentimos.  Pero, ahorita, queremos decir gracias.

Gracias por cuidarnos, gracias por enseñarnos un nuevo mundo, gracias por atendernos y gracias por conocernos.  Era un gran placer conocerles.  Y ojala que les vayan bien con mucha suerte. Y para acabar, queremos brindar a Uds y al Monserrat.  ¡Salud!

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Sunset off San Cristobal Island. Copyright

Our final dinner was fried calamari and steak with lentils, rice, cucumbers and tomatoes, roasted potatoes with upside-down pineapple cake for dessert.  We packed up a little and headed into Puerto Ayoro for a final night out with the whole group.  We had a good time with all the folks on board.  It’s just a shame we had such little time with the new crew.  There were some really good people on board I would’ve loved to have spent more time with. But, on to the next adventure.  My toe started to really bother me so I left the bar early and headed back to the boat to get some sleep. I didn’t have the energy to pack so I just left it for the morning.

Originally published June 16, 2007

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One Response to “Galapagos Day 7: Penguins & Volcanos”

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