Close Encounters of a Friendly Kind

We stood on the deck and waved goodbye to the thirty two yachts on the World ARC leaving for the Marquesas Islands, with mixed emotions. The previous morning we had left San Cristabal for the second island on our visit to the Galapagos, Santa Cruz, in the hope that we would catch the rally just before they left. We were keen to see our friends on the Oyster 56, Into The Blue, we had met early on in our mutual ‘around the world’ planning phases, had crossed the Atlantic with them but as they were part of the World Rally we hadn’t seen each other since St Lucia. We had a great evening together discussing our experiences in Panama, looking forward to the trips ahead and discussing the pros and cons of life afloat. The time together with our friends and other participants reminded us of the support and camaraderie that travelling in a rally brings, we had considered joining the World ARC at the beginning of our travels but they whiz around the world in just sixteen months, we plan to wander around much more slowly.

We had had a nice few days in San Cristabal. The small town of Baquerizo Moreno made up for its lack of sophistication by its incredible friendliness and the National Park have done a good job of providing well marked paths for us to discover. These meandered through the cacti, palo santo trees and lava fields to beaches and cliffs where you could see the plentiful  wildlife. The paths were challenging enough to give you the pretence of an intrepid explorer but without requiring too much effort in the tropical heat or distracting you from the surrounding views. The preservation of the flora and wildlife is admirably the top priority of the people here and they work hard to look after thier unique environment.

 

Clambering across the boulders of lava

 
 We climbed up through the hills north of Wreck Bay to the cliffs of Cerro de las Tijeratas overlooking a rocky cove where if you climbed down to a wooden platform the snorkelling was apparently very good. Unfortunately there was a big swell hitting the island, great for the surfers riding out beyond the reefs and the sea crashing onto the cliffs made for an amazing sight but meant entry for us in through the rocks was impossible. This cove was the first landing site of Charles Darwin and a huge statue stands in recognition of the world changing insights he drew from his visits to the islands. 

  
The platform where he stands gives fantastic views of the north coast and the thousands of birds that nest in the cliffs. We saw frigate birds, gulls and to our great excitement a blue footed booby. We met bobbies sailing between Grenada and Bonaire, they are incredible divers that plunge straight down into the sea to catch their prey. In the Galapagos there are three varieties one of which that has vivid blue feet. Their mating ritual involves them proudly raising these bright feet as high as possible and much like the tortoises yesterday showing off their long necks, the highest foot attracts the most females. The girls here obviously have a thing for lofty achievers.

 

Blue Footed Booby

 
The next day we took a taxi a few kilometres to La Loberia Beach where we spotted Galapagos herons and red beaked tropic birds. Clambering higher across boulders of lava, again we saw blue footed boobies but this time also large marine iguanas, dozens of them basking in the morning sun raising thier body temperature for the day ahead. 

 

Marine Iguanas

 
Feeling that our own body temperatures were rather too high we walked back down to the beach to cool off. We had a great snorkel, amongst the rocks we saw a large school of yellow tailed surgeon fish, huge parrot fish and three turtles. The amazing thing about the wild life here is that they are unafraid of you, everything including the birds, sea lions and turtles allow you to approach them. The largest of the turtles about a metre across allowed us to watch him feed and then swam with Rick for about ten minutes. 

  
Over the next few days we shall be exploring Santa Cruz, however our tourist hats must be mixed with our working hats as we begin preparations to follow our friends across the 3000 miles of Pacific Ocean to Marquesas. 

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