Today’s blog is coming to you from the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. With a commitment to uncover all things wild and wonderful wherever I am in the world, I thought I would share
some of the way civilization functions at this fabulous “end of the earth destination.”
The islands are a highly protected national park and refuge for animals, birds and plants endemic to the Galápagos and only opened to strictly controlled tourism. My husband and I joined some friends from Los Angeles and Toronto on a very well organized trip conducted by National Geographic Expeditions and Linblad Expeditions and cruised around the Galápagos for ten days. Needless to say, it was a fabulous experience.
BTW this grouping of volcanic islands are a terrific place to visit if you want to put yourself in touch with what the world would be like without people, war and McDonalds…enchanting and magical!
Most of the islands I visited were totally devoid of civilization and filled with beautiful birds, giant iguanas and marvelous tropical fish beneath the waters. Sea Lions rule here. You actually have to look where you step on the beaches and the surrounding rocks as they are casually lounging everywhere near the water or on the rocks.
A visit to one of the islands, Santa Cruz, totally caught me by surprise, as one half of this island has evolved into a full fledged tourist stop, and the other half of the island looks like a prehistoric vision with gorgeous flamingos…real ones…romping in brackish ponds and volcanic landscapes.
Puerto Arroyo is the capital city of Santa Cruz. The port is in immaculate condition with sea lions and pelicans brazenly interacting with the numerous tourist filled boats that dock constantly during the day. At a outdoor fish market the pelicans and sea lions stand patiently waiting for leftovers from the vendors.
The highlight of the day…after the giant tortoises…was a very cool place up in the hills called El Trapiche, where they grew sugar cane and turn it into everything from molasses to moonshine that is 130% proof and sold in plastic bottles!
They also raise coffee beans that are sold in the States as Organic Galápagos coffee…muy delicioso! And I discovered a new sweet treat which is nibbling on roasted organic coffee beans and small pieces of hardened molasses…which you should try with a nice cold glass of white wine or, if you prefer, a very cold martini.
One should quickly mention the famous ecological highlights of Santa Cruz…the Tortoise Rearing Programs at the Darwin Center being the most outstanding. You can also walk around a place called El Rancho Manzillo and see large turtles up front and central all around you.
For lunch we stopped in the middle of nowhere to have a typical Ecuadorian lunch of broiled chicken , mashed potatoes and string beans with the mandatory hot salsa at a charming place called the Aquelarre Restaurant. They food was excellent but a hot meal in the middle of the day in the middle of a tropical island was a tad too much for this lady.
Romping around the natural beauty of the Galápagos was a better experience than I anticipated. It is a marvelous opportunity to see how many similarities there are between the the behavior of species living in the wild and that of human beings. It is also a great way to get to appreciate the unspoiled beauty that exists in rare places on this earth.
Ciao, ciao ’til next time.