Monday, March 28, 2011

A trip to Isabella Island Galapagos

Isabella, Galapagos---In my dreams I am swimming with the sea lions. They are playing and turning summersaults around me. The heat is incredible. It is hotter than I've ever experienced but the cool blue water swishes over my skin and cools me. The water is clear and the seas calm. I let out a spontanious, startled, happy scream then start laughing when one sea lion swims right up to my face. They play for about 15 minutes and then dart off as quickly as they appeared. I turn and see a penguin dart past me, swimming so fast I can hardly follow it with my eyes. But wait. Pinch me. THIS IS NOT A DREAM!

Playful Sea Lion
I had caught an early boat for another two hour trip to the largest island in the Galapagos: Isabella.  We toured more giant turtles (yawn)...Edee, stop it; even though at this point, I've seen hundreds, I can't take them for granted. This is the only place on earth that these turtles, plus many other species liveas natives. One giant tortoise in the Darwin Foundation Park named Lonesome George is the very last of his species, and he's 150-ish, but who's counting. I have learned that the different islands have different species. That they lose the clearness of their rings on the outside of their shells and that's how you can tell their age. I know that the females are smaller and they have a square-er shaped backend and a shorter tail. They hiss when frightened. The males take about 5-6 men to lift. And they can live for a year with no food or water I now know that the population of them went from 300,000 to 20,000 during the years of whalers and pirates. These sailors would load their ships with 100-200 turtles and have fresh meat for a very long time because they didn't have to feed or water them.
A very fast penguin! I kept snapping photos and captured one.
Isabella Island is where you can see Pink Flamingos that are so pink you would swear someone at the tourist department dyed them, more dragon-like marine iguanas(only found here), Darwin's famously studied finches, and yes, snorkel with sea lions and penguins.

It was another long day. I had finally backed down and started taking antibiotics a couple days ago after having a chest cold that I caught in Panama. After 10 days, I just couldn't handle it any longer and dove into my supply of Sipro. Yesterday I had to cancel my tour to Bartholomew Island...I was just so exhausted and really needed down time. I guess as my journey is coming to an end I am furiously trying to cram it all in, plus it's the Galapagos for heaven's sake!  So after a day of laying low, I was anxious to see Isabella and crewmate Shannon joined me.

Baby Giant Tortoises

Pink Flamingo behind the branches

White tiped VEGETARIAN sharks

It seems everyone has a very similar experience here. You just can't wipe the smile off your face. And you have to keep asking yourself, "Am I dreaming this?"

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