Day 14 – Tuesday – May 22, 2012

Today we leave the boat for an overnight on land. We were up and away before 7:00 AM. Our first stop after a brisk 20 minute walk was the Darwin Center, located on Santa Cruz at Puerto Ayora. Here Equadorian and foreign scientists work on research and projects for coservation of the Galapagos terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The Center, established in 1994 has a Natural History Interpertation Center and provides educational projects.

The weather gods were still favoring us with beautiful clear weather and no rain. It was hot and sticky but no one complained. We visited several exhibit areas and then wandered thru the Center and observed the “pens” where they segregated the various tortois species from the different islands. They collect the eggs in the wild, incubate them and raise the small tortoises until they are able to survive in the wild.

We also got to see Lonesome George – the only remaining tortoise from Pinta Island. The details are in the sign below.

It is estimated that George is about 80 years old. Still pretty young for a tortoise. They have been trying to cross breed George to keep his strain alive, but so far have been unsuccessful. They recently changed the two female tortoises for a different species which they think are more closely related to George. Good Luck George…..

After leaving the Darwin Center, we walked back down the main street to our designated meeting place. We had about 1 1/2 hours to browse the shops and do a little shopping.

Speaking of shopping, I know it’s for a good cause but the sales tax in the Park at the Center is 50%. Elsewhere on the island, there is no tax.

The obligatory photo with the giant tortoise . See what I mean by “hot and sticky”?

While making our way up the street, we passed the fish market. I have seen many fish markets in South America but this one was different. They had a natural disposal for the waste produced from cleaning the fish.

Between the Sea Lions and the Pelicans, there was no waste evident. It was interesting that the wildlife knew what they could have and what they couldn’t.

When we finally boarded our bus we headed to the highlands for lunch at a private location. The grounds were beautiful and lush.

After lunch we traveled a few more miles to an area where we would hopefully see a few tortoises in the wild.

E.T. – phone home…. The giant tortoise was used as the model for E.T.

We were lucky and did find a few.

I am not sure exactly what was happening here, looks more like an Easter Egg hunt than a giant tortoise hunt 🙂

After leaving the farm, we stopped to visit a lava tube. This one was discovered by the land owner trying to find out why his cattle were mysteriously disappearing.

These tubes can run for miles underground where they carried the molten magma to the sea.

On our way back to the Hotel, we stopped at the home of a small coffee grower. Here I purchased some whole bean, locally grown and roasted coffee. These photos are of the ladies grandchildren who were staying with her after school.

Bill, as always has a special gift for relating to the children.

Our hotel, the Casa Natura. It was very nice and quaint. We were on the 3rd level and there were no elevators. Glad we didn’t have to handle the luggage! The rooms were very large and we had a lovely balcony.

After a couple of hours to rest and refresh ourselves, we headed by foot to the restaurant for dinner. It was a very pleasant walk of about six blocks.

The food was great, most of us had the fresh tuna and it was cooked perfect tonight…

Tomorrow is another early morning with two flights back to Quito.

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