Posted by: Merrilee | March 30, 2013

Arriving on the Galapagos Islands

Arriving on the Galapagos Islands

IMG_3707There was a certain sense of desolation around us as my friend and I disembarked from our plane on arrival on the island of Isla Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. The stifling heat at sea level on the equator was a dramatic change from the cool mountain air of Quito where we had just come from.

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After a bus, boat and taxi ride we landed in the bustling seaside town of Puerto Ayora on neighboring Isla Santa Cruz where about half of the archipelago residents live.  It is a place where sea, sun, seabirds, boats and people coexist in harmony.  Numerous water taxis plied the turquoise waters picking up and dropping off passengers among the fishing boats, cruise ships and yachts.

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The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site and lie in the Pacific Ocean about 1000 kilometers (620 miles) off the coast of Ecuador. The volcanic islands are famed for their unique animal species.  Charles Darwin drew on his experience here when writing his theory of evolution by natural selection.

IMG_3774One of the first things we did shortly after our arrival was visit the Charles Darwin Research Station just down the road from the harbor.   As we were following a dirt path inside the Darwin Station we heard some unusual, rhythmic sounds.  Rounding a bend, we discovered that these unique sounds came from two pairs of giant turtles that were mating in the nearby brush.   

Further on we observed baby tortoises in cage-like structures for viewing by the public, and incubators used for tortoise eggs and iguanas.  I was most grateful when we stumbled onto a little wooden café serving ice cold drinks.  The tropical climate here certainly takes some getting used to.

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