After a rather bumpy sail during the night which had the boat pitching from side to side (I slept through it!) We woke up anchored in the port of Santa Cruz Island. Only 4 of the Galapagos Islands are inhabited and Santa Cruz is one of them. Over 10,000-the most populated. We visited the Charles Darwin Research Center and saw the large tortoises, the iguanas and turtle restoration programs.
We also saw Lonesome George, a huge giant tortoise. He was found all alone on an island–the only one of his species left after pirates found and killed the others for food. George has been at the Center for 26 years. Attempts have been on going to breed him and there is a female tortoise with him in his enclosure–when the moment arrives, she’ll be ready. A while ago, the Center had a woman from Switzerland (-l’m telling you, those swiss gals!!!) Who manually stimulated old George’s peter and collected his sperm (there wasn’t a lot of it) to study it.
The naturalist told us that a tortoise quickie lasts about 2 hours, a fact I tweeted about which elicited a few funny comments (a woman who asked to be introduced to George). One comment worth noting said that as tortoises live to about 150 years, a 2 hour quickie is the equivalent of 20 seconds for one of us. (We’ve all been there at one time or another, right?)
We took a bus and drove up the mountain and saw the varying vegetation areas–the transition zone where there is a continual drizzle, like a fine mist rather then a rain. This is why it is so lushly vegetated. There is agriculture here as well including coconut, avocado, mango and banana trees–none native.
Some of us walked the 70 meters through a lava tunnel. It is slippery and you had to stoop over some of the time so I passed on that adventure.
Everyone in the group seems to be having fun. We are a diverse crowd–from the point of view of race, age, socio-economic status but everyone’s having fun and getting along.
This afternoon we’re walking through pasture land to find the giant tortoises in the wild. Farmers and tortoises have learned to live together. I was surprised that there were people living on the mountain but the guide explained that the families had been there since the early 1900s and were grandfathered in but have to follow very strict rules about land use.
I’ll be ready for a nap when we get back to the boat.
Because people have asked for it, Michele (CEO of GCAPP) and I will give a short talk during cocktails about the organization.
See you next time.