Beyond the vastly different lifestyle the Galapagos afforded me, I also saw so much great wildlife and incredible views. On weekends, all of the volunteers would share a taxi to the main city on the island, Puerto Baquerizo. You don’t need to go far to see plenty of moaning and groaning sea lions. It’s quite an orchestra really. They’re everywhere and they can take over beaches and boardwalks. Less frequent but still not difficult to spot are marine iguanas. These ones were really amazing to see for me because I had an iguana named Greeny when I was a kid! Before you make fun of my lack of creativity in pet names, just recall that I’m an accountant. Though these guys are trying to change that perception.
Anyway, back to the wildlife. There is a small rocky bluff of an island just off the western coast of the island where I was staying. The name of this bluff is Kicker Rock, though it’s known as Leon Dormido (sleeping lion, which it resembles) to locals. But that’s not the special part of this rock. It’s the marine life just below and around it. I did a snorkeling trip there and swam 30 feet above hammer head and Galapagos sharks! Also, there were sea turtles, more sea lions, marine iguanas, and many fish. But I think the best part of that excursion was the part we didn’t pay for. As we were beginning to leave the rock, a HUGE pod of dolphins started swimming past us. We followed them and they ended up jumping out of the water all around us. It was an amazing experience to be among those incredibly smart and gorgeous animals.
As my trip began to come to a close, I said goodbye to my fellow volunteers whom I’d been living so closely with for so long. To finish things up, I decided to take an overnight trip to the next island, Santa Cruz. But here’s the twist. My largest bag holding most of my clothes and a few other things was left in the first island right on the pier. I realized as I arrived in Santa Cruz that my bag wasn’t there and put it together. I began to freak out in my mind a bit, but then I thought about it. I had my passport, laptop, phone, and all other valuables. I would be seeing my girlfriend, Nessie, in just a few days and I could ask her to get me additional clothes for me before she left. The biggest issue would be getting a new bag, which would merely set my budget back a bit. Not life altering. So I made a decision. I was going to forget about this for 24 hours until I returned to the island and enjoy Santa Cruz as much as possible. So I did just that.
I saw the Charles Darwin research station where lots of exhibits of current projects were on display. The islands are working very hard to become totally self sustaining, not an easy task. I also saw lava tunnels, giant tortoises (a few of which were trying to show off baby-making skills), and a beautiful beach know as one of the nicest in all of Ecuador. It was a great time. Thankfully, when I returned to San Cristobal there was a police officer waiting for me. No no, not because I was caught breaking any laws. They had found my bag and searched it for security reasons and found out I was returning on the boat that morning, so they brought me to the station and gave me a bag. But not before taking a picture to memorialize the moment they got to interact with a real life gringo!
And so I made my way back to mainland Ecuador in Quito for a quick one night reunion with the wonderful family that housed me on my way into the islands. Ecuador was a beautiful place with kind people and incredible wildlife. I didn’t get to see very much of the mainland but I cannot complain about any of the experiences I had there. I could only bask in them and look forward to more great times in Colombia! Stay tuned for the next post on what I consider my favorite stop on the trip!