Friday, March 23, 2012

6 Days & 5 Nights

Okay now ....... You see the title and are immediately thinking " cheesie pre-packaged tour" or cruise or whatever ......

And, well ...... You're kinda correct.  

Pre- packaged, cruise & tour thing ....... yes.

Cheesy ......... not cheesy.  Or maybe very cheesy and I am just a no-taste kinda guy.   You be the judge .... here I am the day before we left.  Testing to see if my ear plugs can double as nose plugs when we go snorkeling.  Pretty classy.
Ear plugs as nose plugs?
NOT a sign of genius.
Back on track here ...... we found it to be the perfect way to see the Galapagos Islands.  Everything was taken care of (meals & lodging on the boat), we got into places and did things that would have been difficult if not impossible for us to arrange.  Everything was paid for up front.

Going to the Galapagos was never high on my priority list.  I was wrong in this.  It was great.  I never could have guessed what an experience it could be.  It was super-bob cool and bitchin' !

Our plane as seen after landing.
We landed on Isla San Cristobal.
A word about the wildlife:
- ‘Innocent’ is the best description.
- For the most part they have no fear of man.
- They can touch you, but you can’t touch them.
- Supposed to stay 6 feet away from them unless they approach you.
Examples -----
- Sea lions in the towns
- Sea lions on the beaches ..... just walk around them.
- Birds everywhere.
- Iguanas and lizards (sea and land type) don’t scamper away from you. Actually nothing avoids you at all.
- I had a baby sea lion come up and sniff me.  It’s whiskers and nose felt just like when Bugger or Wanker sniff me.

Our first surprise!
A little about the ship and crew.  
- The ship basically cruised from island to island and we did different things on different islands.
- We were on the M/V Santa Cruz. In Spanish it is the M/N Santa Cruz ...... do you see the difference?  Owned by Metropolitan Tours.
- The Santa Cruz has passenger capacity of 90.  There were 39 on the cruise.
- The staff was fabulous ... so good that I did not even balk at the suggested tipping guidelines.
- Every time we went ashore we had a naturalist with us.  The naturalists were amazing.
- A small cruise ship does not have all the amenities as a large ship ........ but I much prefer it.  Very personalized.
- About half the passengers were English speakers and half were Spanish speakers.
- The organization and attention to detail was great.
- She ship was 35+ years old and was showing it’s age a little on the outside, but not on the inside.
- We upgraded to the best cabin we could (junior suite) because it was roomier and had a couch ...... I like to read late and hate reading in bed.  There were 2 master suites, but they were already taken.
First sighting of our little ship.
Always got on and off from the Zodiak rafts.
A little about shore excursions:
- A naturalist/guide was with you for every trip out .... and they were VERY GOOD.
- Some excursions were wet - beach time with snorkeling or snorkeling off the zodiak rafts in deeper water.
- Some excursions were dry - guided tour of the restricted ares and the wildlife.
- We had a couple opportunities to be in towns and see wht they had to offer (not really too much).
- Some level of tolerance and ability for physical exertion was necessary.   
- Some excursions were more demanding than others.
- There were usually  2 shore excursions a day.
- One excursion in the AM.
- Back to the ship for lunch and siesta.
- Another excursion in the afternoon.
- All excursions in groups of 8 - 12 (basically you were with the same group on all excursions ....... could be good or bad).
On the first day.
We arrived at the boat in time for lunch and an orientation to the ship.
That afternoon, we went on an excursion back into town to see the interpretive center. 
A little about the weather:
- Hot
- Humid
- Hot with humidity.
- Humid with heat.
- We did get some relief with some clouds.
- Lots of sun screen was used.
- But basically .... hot and humid.

About the Galapagos National Park:
- If you are a tourist, you must pay a national park fee to enter the islands. ($100 or $6 depending on if you have an Ecuadorian Cedula.  We have a Cedula, so ours were $6 each)
- 97% of the land and 100% of the water are a national park.
- The islands (and water) may possibly be the most highly restricted land area on earth ...... and that is good.  It is so unique.
- The beauty of our package tour is that we got entrance to everything ...... but, STAY ON THE PATH.  Very restricted and regulated .... as it should be.


Life is sweet,