Seymour Norte and Santa Cruz Islands, Galapagos, Ecuador Thursday January 26, 2017

We got to breakfast and saw that the covered outside table was once again reserved for the J Party. Did they arrange this when they checked in that they would get this table for all their meals?

We headed indoors, and one of the nice members of the group asked us if we wanted to sit outside as we hadn’t had breakfast there yet. So we did, and I thought better of some of the members of the J group. Later when the rest of the group got to the dining room, there were a few glares in my direction. So I have since decided to forgive the group, even after getting a stink eye from some of them. I wish them a lifetime of happiness and I do not wish digestive issues on them anymore! How magnanimous of me! It really was a lovely spot for breakfast.

After breakfast we walked to the bus stop where we would be picked up for our last full day in the Galapagos.

These are the castitas, where some of the J party stayed in. Two of the group ended up getting their rooms moved as they had no hot water in their room and were moved to one of the villas, like ours. I was not sure if they got the Presidential villa or not!

The professional pictures used a much better camera angle!

We loaded into the van and were off for another action packed day with Natalie, The J group and the rest of the gang on the Sea Finch! We had some new people on the cruise also. Today we hoped to see some sea lions, marine iguanas, on Seymour Norte (or North Seymour!), and in the afternoon go swimming on a beach on Santa Cruz.

Here is Steve in his spot on the boat. Bags on the right were tossed there the J foursome. They sat there maybe an hour on our seven hour trip. My bag is behind Steve. The cushions were very wet, so I sat on the bag most of the time.

I am all bundled up for another day in the Galapagos. Could you tell it was me? Many people had gloves on also to prevent sun damage. Having a shirt a couple of sizes too big, really helped in trying to create a breeze. I wore a buff that Steve uses bonefishing in the Bahamas. My shirt was one of Elliott’s .

We are off. The hatch in front is for the crew below who were working below making lunches and stuff. I was never sure how many crew there were. The guy working the Zodiac was wearing a hat, buff and glasses. I couldn’t tell if he was the man making our lunch! Were they the same person or not?

Steve is enjoying the view. He always has a good attitude when we are traveling. I would say with confidence that he would be an excellent companion if you were looking for a traveling partner. However you must tolerate your traveling companion going off fishing at times!

This is Mr. J. He did know about cameras, scuba diving and snorkeling. In fact, we learned about full face snorkeling masks through him and his wife. They were using them, and they worked well. We ended up buying them for our trip to the Maldives in January 2018. If you want to, you can reread those blog posts. Or not.

Now even though I have forgiven them, I still get to report on their behavior on the trip!

Looks like I could still get a sunburn on the bridge of my nose and the v of my neck. I had Sally’s Go-Pro on. We won’t know until I get back if I got any good video. I think the device would be really good for skiing and riding down hill on a dirt bike. Possibly fishing, but your would probably have a lot of wasted film. It’s kind of hard to remember to turn it on if you have a fish on.

It is two years after this trip and we have still not reviewed our Go-Pro video. That is a terrible turn around time!

Here are two blue footed boobies. We never got to see any of the red footed ones. A disadvantage of doing the land based tours is that you only get to a few of the islands. We were unable to see penguins, red footed boobies, and the flightless cormorants. There are two loops for the sea based tours also, so even if you were to go for a week, you might see only half the islands!

We did see a swallow tail gull. It is the only nocturnal gull.

Another blue footed booby! People just love saying booby! Especially our guide, Nadine who sounded like Inspector Clouseau. Our guide Lorena, from Guayaquil, told us when Hooter’s opened, they were offering the waitresses $1000 to get breast implants.

Here is the famous frigate bird with his red breast all puffed out, trying to attract the female sitting next to him in the tree.

Here we see two frigate birds sitting in a tree. No, they are not k-i-s-s-i-n-g! The bird on the left is the male, “pooch”, and the all black female is on the right. The frigate bird is also called the pirate bird as they steal food from other birds mid flight!

Here is a land iguana sitting in the shade of the prickly pear cactus. Can you find him? It was very hot on our excursions. Island excursions for those staying in boats, usually went out 8-10 am and then 4-6 pm. Those that stayed at hotels and then went out on boats were on the islands from 10-2 pm. This was the hottest part of the day. During this time boat based excursions would rest or snorkel and swim.

Here is a land iguana. The sea iguana can stay under water for over an hour!

Can you see the birds in the nest?

A better view.

This is a dead bird. Unfortunately they don’t all survive. Survival of the fittest.

Another land iguana. Not as yellow as the one I had shown you previously.

These are abandoned nests of the boobies. The white rings are guano (poop). The boobies were done nesting.

Two frigate chicks in the nest.

Again, the closeup. The bird on the left is older than the bird on the right.

Here is a video of the frigate birds flying and soaring around. At times you could see the red pouch filled with air. Or as Natalie would say “pooch”! She told us that sometimes the birds can even sleep when they fly!

Another blue footed booby. Below, is a picture taken by a professional with a better lens.

We will have to come back and see the other islands and the animals that we missed. We would have to do a cruise, and get the transdermal patch to prevent sea sickness. However what will I do if I am surrounded by people on the boat that annoy me? I just have to blog about them!

The rock on the left looked like a popular spot for birds to poop on. It was interesting to see how the powerful surf both flattened and stacked the rocks!

The water was a gorgeous blue. The island on the right is called Gordon Rocks. We thought it was Gordon Ricks due to Natalie’s accent. It is a favorite scuba diving spot. The diving here is supposed to be good, but very expensive. As Steve and I don’t dive I couldn’t tell you if this is true.

Another dead bird carcass. This one was picked clean.

The brown blob center top is a sea lion!

Here is the Alpha Sea Lion patrolling the beach. He is looking out for sharks who might want to eat the sea lion pups.

The alpha male, sea lion!

Can you spy the iguana?

There he is!

One last shot of a sea lion frolicking near our approaching Zodiac. You might wonder why he has a white belly. I thought that it blended in with the guano on the rocks. Steve says it is to blend in with the sky when you look at them from below in the water. I think Steve is correct. He sometimes is, you know!

You can see orange shirt in my picture. I should have cropped her out, but I have more fun making nasty comments about her, trying to hog into my life!

Great crashing surf. We had trouble landing due to the surge. One elderly gentleman on our group had difficulty getting in and out of the boat so he didn’t go on our afternoon expedition to the beach.

Long whiskers, little ears, strong flippers and muscular bodies on the sea lion. Hmm. Reminds me of Steve when he had his beard! Except Steve has body appropriately sized arms and hands!

The snorkeling group was ready for their adventure. Nadine in the bikini has an amazing body. You could have one too if you snorkeled, swam and hiked every day! That, and genetics also. The man on the left was wearing a bathing suit, it was just riding low! Mrs. J was wearing a pink hat, and Mr. J had on a tan hat and a snorkel shirt.

You can see one snorkeler here, the rest were in the area. The Zodiac boat would stay close, you only had to signal and the driver would come and get you. This time I elected to stay on the boat and out of the sun. I had a very interesting conversation with a gentleman who teaches reading for people with dyslexia. He was brought on an all expensive paid trip here to teach a young boy whose parents run a tented eco lodge on Santa Cruz Island.

Lunch was a buffet. Chicken, rice, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and I think apple slices. Sometimes they tasted like apples, and sometimes not. It was amazing how much of an appetite we worked up hiking in the sun. The hikes were about 90 minutes, with plenty of stops to admire the wild life. Just no shade! No parasols or selfie sticks are allowed in the parks of the Galápagos.

Carrot cake for dessert.

We have now taken the Zodiac and landed at on Santa Cruz Island. We will take a hike and then go for a swim at Las Bachas Beach.

This is called a wet landing because you do get wet!

Here is Nadine holding an empty carcass of a Sally Lightfoot Crab that had discarded its old shell. You can see the human body on the right that also needs some shedding.

In this area, sea turtles lay their eggs. We didn’t see any sea turtles on land today.

The vertical lines near the shrubbery are iguana tail prints.

A sea turtle swimming.

This is a marine iguana. You can tell the difference because this guy has spines on his back.

This is a brackish pond. There is a pink flamingo in the back, but he was hard to see. There was only one at the pond today.

The iguanas were so much fun to watch!

Some of the marine iguanas and land iguana mate on Santa Clara Island. However the offspring die before they reach sexual maturity. We did not go to Santa Clara.

Aren’t we cuties? The people from the hotel that I dislike were going on a one week catamaran cruise with 16 people and then a 2 week tour of Peru. Not sure if I could travel for a month with anyone. I tolerate Steve but then we have been going out for 40 years. The anniversary of our first date is February 5. We went to see Family Plot, an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I can tell you that I wore jeans and a Huk-A-Poo shirt as that is all that I wore back then. Plus my brown shit kicker boots.

Here is the group swimming in the ocean and an incoming frigate bird. Would you believe that no one on our trip was pooped on by a bird?

Steve keeping his glasses on and his head above water. He said that there were very strong currents. I sat on the beach in water up to my waist, until a big wave came. I think that I brought many small shells in my bathing suit back to our room, but not on purpose! I was very good and didn’t remove any rocks or shells from The Gal├ípagos Islands!

We are heading back to the Zodiac, and then to the Sea Finch where we will disembark and take the van back to the Royal Palm.

Here is where a lot of cargo is transferred to Santa Cruz Island. Food is vey expensive on the island. Recently there was a change in contracts of the cargo handlers to friends of the government. Prices have skyrocketed. The elections are coming in two weeks. All of the Ecuadorians that we talked to are very unhappy with the present government. They have been in power for the past twelve years. A lot of contracts go to friends of the government. A lot of the oil money has disappeared. People are also unhappy that the Chinese have bought many mines.

Our last sunset.

We had fish again.

Dinner was inside again as the veranda table was reserved by the J party. Not only was the circular table reserved, but the picnic table next to it was occupied by the group! I got pretty steamed by then. Why was the table reserved for them from 6:30, as they didn’t eat until 8:30? Couldn’t they just reserve it for 8:30, and others could use it earlier?

We thought we weren’t going to see stars tonight as it was partly cloudy earlier. However the clouds lifted and we got to see some stars. We had gone in earlier, so they weren’t as bright as last night’s.

Do you use pictures on your Christmas cards?

Do you need to shed some pounds?

Does your bathing suit accidentally fall off on purpose?

Bonus Question: Have you ever been pooped on by a bird?

Super Bonus Question: Would you take Hooter’s up on their offer to increase your breast size? Why or why not? Please limit your answer to 250 words.

Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador Wednesday January 25, 2017

Today we were going to spend the day with Duncan, our guide who took us to visit the Darwin Museum and the fish cleaning on the docks. See that building in the middle of the picture? That is Picaya, a new luxury resort for those people who want to stay on land. We weren’t given the option of staying there on our trip. I wish we would have as they have their very own super deluxe yacht for their guests. I have looked up their price point since, and it is very high. Oh well. If you want a review, I suggest you head to TheGoodTheBadandtheLuxurious.com. It is a fantastic blog about luxury hotels. As we did not bring enough water with us for our walks we stopped off at the little mini mart for water. Only 60 cents for a bottle of water! Yay, my Ecuadorian grocery store! Another notch on my belt!

We drove further into the highlands to see some coffee trees.


Come along for the walk up the hill to enjoy the vista.

I forgot that I wanted a panoramic shot, but this will do.

We went back down the hill and got in the van, and saw this guy crossing the road. As he wasn’t a chicken, I didn’t bother asking him why he was crossing the road!

They were big, this one was shy.

Here is Duncan, you can compare the size of hunky man and tortoise!

This was another one down the road. He was pretty curious.

We went to see a crater, but thankfully only looked into it!

Here is a blooming prickly pear. See the yellow flowers?

These two trees are unusual to see growing near each other. The prickly pear on the left usually grows in the desert. The tree on the left generally only in the Highlands.

We went to the beach to do some sea kayaking. Let’s just say that we did it once, so I never had to do it again. It was a most unpleasant experience. My hips don’t like to be in a sea kayak. I was in a lot of pain and Steve had to paddle most of the time. We did see a few birds. From now on if sea kayaking is suggested we just say “No!”

Steve and I came back to the Royal Palm Hotel RoyalPalmGalapagos.com for lunch. Steve is trying to give me goo goo eyes because he knows I am all set to go off on a toot.

And lookie here. This is the alpha female of the foursome that hogs all the best spots. She came back from her morning’s adventures and is back, on the one table on the veranda. They sit here all breakfast, are here for lunch, and they will claim it again this afternoon to discuss the next day’s events, and then eventually order dinner. They were on the boat yesterday and one of the group gets on the boat first and nails the prime spots on the prow of the boat. Last night I asked the waiter if we could reserve the table for dinner tonight. This is why we usually don’t go on group tours. I am extremely sensitive to other people’s behaviors. My behavior of course, is exemplary. (Well, maybe not all the time!)

Steve and I only take less than an hour for dinner. What would have been nice, is if every group took turns sitting at the table. There were only six of us staying at the hotel at the time. So, it was quite annoying that they were able to sit at the table outside all the time. They could have sat at the table while planning the next day’s events, then had cocktails around the pool while we had our dinner at the table , and then they could have returned to the table for their dinner. But NO, it didn’t work out that way!

This was the lunch we had back at the hotel before our afternoon adventures. That hamburger has some seriously gloppy cheese on it!

Hmm, I wonder what foursome had their belonging strewn all over the chairs, but were no where in sight?

Lava Tunnel picture from the hotel website.

I took this picture. Our adventure of the day continued with explorations of a lava tunnel on the grounds of the Royal Palm. The former owner was said to have stored either his wine, or mozzarella cheese or both. I wasn’t sure what the real story was.

There were helmets and flashlights waiting for us in the bag.

Here we are, all helmeted up and ready to go! Steve always looks like the camera lens is off in the distance behind the camera. I, on the other hand am always ready for my close up!

This is a lava tunnel. It formed over 1 million years ago when a lava flow crusted over and hot lava continued to flow under the crust which is 2-3 feet thick. This tunnel has a nice path made by the hotel. Much easier going that’s the tunnel on Easter Island.

Here is a picture of what is called coral lava. It is not made from coral, it just looks like coral.

Here we see an upper and lower portion of the lava tunnel.

These are not stalactites, just lava that dripped and cooled as it hardened.

Here we are near the end of the lava tunnel. It was a much more pleasant trip than the Easter Island Lava Tunnel!

Up the ladder and on toward day light.

Next we are going to visit Ranch El Manzanillo, a coffee farm that has Galapagos Giant Tortoises on it! I call that a Double Play! Perhaps we might be able to make it a Triple instead! You can see the red coffee beans. They are all picked by hand. It is quite labor intensive.

We then drove off in search of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. Did you know that the word Galapagos derives from the Spanish word for Tortoise?

The back feet are more stocky, and the front feet more flexible.

This is tortoise dung. You did want to see it, didn’t you?

It’s pretty big!

Tortoises can’t swim but they can float. They love to cool off in the water.

This tortoise is not very old. You can compare his size to Duncan’s leg.

They eat a lot of grass.

They bend the front leg over when they walk.

Sneaking up on a Galapagos Tortoise. Duncan knows just the shots to take!

In captivity a full grown Galapagos Tortoise can weigh up to 900 pounds! In the wild they are 500-600 pounds. It is said that they can live up to 200 years, but some of the data is anecdotal.

This guy is walking in shallow water. You can tell the female from the male tortoise as the female’s shell is muddier and scratched from wild Tortoise sex. No, we didn’t get to see any tortoise copulating!

Here you see a little video of the Galapagos Tortoise. Enjoy!

The Dashing Duncan Devine brought us to see Sr. Guerrero and his sugar cane distillery and coffee farm.

Here is Sr. Guerrero showing us where the sugar cane is crushed to make rum.

The sugar cane goes into the machine and out comes the juice into a metal bowl. The donkey that normally turn the wheel was not available so Steve and Duncan acted as he-men to push the wooden poles around. I got to try and feed the cane while Steve and Duncan pushed. I then tried to push while Steve fed the cane into the machine but it ended up “seizing up” and nothing happen. Steve’s family has stories about machines “seizing up”, I will likely have a chapter in my book about that!

The cane juice is put through a strainer.

It’s mixed with fresh ice and is ready to drink. The juice looked clear at first, but was a cloudy green when it was mixed with the ice.

This is Sra Guerrero with Sr. Guerrero.

We also got to try the sugar cane booze straight up. It was 60% alcohol or 120 proof. Steve says it’s called rum, not sugar cane booze.

Some of the rum cut with the sugar cane juice. It was refreshing, but packed a wallop!

The juice from the sugar cane is boiled down to a molasses.

Then it goes into the silver still.

And then into the wooden barrel. Salud!

We also got to see how coffee was roasted. Enough about how adventure, let’s go back to the Royal Palm.

We had a beautiful sunset again!

The hotels signature drink, called the Bachelor’s Delight. I told them I was renaming it the “Happily Married Woman’s Delight”!

So since the ugly American table hogs went to dinner in town, we got to sit at the outside table. Yay! You can see the tables in the background where they could have sat and done their planning for the next day. I am doing the crazy happiness pose for Steve. Since our stay the hotel has added more tables for people to sit at, and comfortable chairs to hang out on. I had suggested this when we checked out of the hotel.

The snapper we had for dinner was excellent. Too bad only the vegetables look good!

On the way back to our room we looked at the stars and saw Mars, Venus and Uranus! I would call the day a home run, we saw Galapagos Giant Tortoises wandering about, visited a coffee plantation, saw how rum was made and scored the coveted outside table!

Why can’t we all be friends?

Have you ever seen Galapagos Tortoises having sex?

Do you call it rum or sugar cane booze?

Do you have a cave to store wine and cheese in your back yard?