Well, after 3 days on San Cristobal it was time to move on to the next island and continue our Galapagos adventure. In the Galapagos, for land-based travellers, there are only two ways to move from island to island – by plane or nausea-inducing speedboat. Naturally, the planes cost 10 times more, so as budget travelers, we decided to take on the nausea, rationalizing that it was part of the Galapagos experience. So we packed our bags and walked down to the town’s main dock to wait with all the other tourists for a boat to Santa Cruz, the archipelago’s most populated island.
Thankfully, everything was pretty organized and in short order, we were on our boat. I don’t think there will ever be words to properly express the experience of getting on one of these boats. Imagine cramming 20-25 people of all ages into a little covered boat and strapping 600 HP onto the back of it, then driving full blast across the ocean’s waves for 2 hours. The one piece of advice we’d heeded – don’t eat before the trip.
Clearly not everyone knew this though, and within 30 minutes, the small child sitting diagonal from me had already vomited all over the floor and there is nothing worse that the smell of vomit to make someone else vomit. I was seriously concerned that the boat was about to turn into a vomit-fest, but everyone else (yours truly included) managed to keep it down and eventually we got to Santa Cruz, no worse than we’d left.
Santa Cruz, on this day, was just a pitstop as about 4 hours after arriving, we were scheduled to catch another boat to Isla Isabela, the least populated of the three main islands. So with some time to kill, we grabbed breakfast, and then walked (with all our luggage) to the nearby Charles Darwin Research Center. It was here that we got our first glimpse of the mighty giant tortoise, a creature that looks like it belongs in the age of the dinosaurs and that was apparently the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s E.T.
Although it was fun to see them, these were not wild tortoises but rather captive inmates of the research center. We hoped on Isabela to see some in the wild. Nevertheless, captivity aside, the pens they were kept in were very naturalistic (it basically just looked like they slapped fences around the existing landscape) and they seemed to enjoy their slow-paced lifestyle, which seems to consist primarily of eating cacti, walking around, looking around and stepping on each other.
Before leaving, we had a chance to see some of the newborns – the populations of giant tortoises has declined dramatically over the years due to hunting and invasive predators, but centers like these are hard at work to restore the population through captive breeding.
We got the chance to see a few other species hanging around the center – lots of finches and a large land iguana.
Before we knew it we were back on another speedboat for the two-hour ride to Isla Isabela – thankfully, no vomiting on this trip!