Galapagos – Day 7

Santa Cruz Island - Puerto Ayora

Our entire day today was spent ashore on Sata Cruz Island.  Yep, that’s the same island we stopped on one the first day, but this time we are on the south side where there is civilization, and I have to say that the organization that Lindblad did was really great.

Buses collected us at the port after a zodiac ride to shore and transported us to Darwin’s Lounge Café which would serve as our meeting spot after the first activity.  Their insta page suggests it could be quite a cocktail spot, but since it was first thing in the morning, oh well. 

We did a short walk on the road from the café to the Charles Darwin Foundation.  The foundation does a lot of conservation work in the Galapagos, but the focus of our visit was their work on giant tortoise conservation.   We saw the taxidermied body of Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises who died at the age of 100 after becoming something of a cause celeb.   He was originally is an American museum, but was later returned.  Kind of like Ecuador’s version of the Elgin marbles.  

Because baby tortoises are very susceptible to predator attacks right after hatching so one of the activities is the collection of tortoise eggs from various islands.  The eggs are hatched at the center and raised to an age (generally several year) at which they are mostly safe from predators before being returned to the island where they were collected.   The tortoises are labeled with numbers in different colors and kept in separate groups. 

Baby Tortoises at Charles Darwin Foundation

The walk back gave us the opportunity for a little shopping and then the café was serving complementary ginger lemonade which was really good.  And refreshingly cold after the walk in the heat.    

For the next activity, we had three options: a visit to a local school, a visit to a sugar plantation/rum distillery and a visit to a low tech hydroponic farm/coffee plantation.  We did the hydroponic farm “Granja Integral Ochoa,” where the owner grows lettuce and other  salad greens which are sold to the cruise ships.  He also  has fruit trees, like those for the yummy bananas he gave us, plus the coffee plants.  The coffee is all hand-picked and processed.    We all got to sample it (except Don and other non-coffee-drinking barbarians who had an interesting purple tea) along with some snacks and local fruit jam.  It was excellent.

Our next stop was Rancho Manzanilla  where we had a buffet lunch.  After the food on the ship, this was barely adequate, so dietetic.   The service was meh.  But after lunch, we walked outside.  Somehow we missed out on “Boobie Beer.”  The property is on a migration path for giant tortoises, so walking among them was pretty cool.

Return to the ship at 1700 (or later if one wanted to shop).  I was feeling a bit like this sea lion however, so we headed straight back to get an early start on cocktails and to see local artisans talking about their crafts in the ship lounge. 

Sea Lion in Zodiac


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