Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Today instead of being Roger writing the post it will be me. Roger will be very busy for the next couple days doing something else. I’ll tell you what later.
First, let’s start with the wild animals here in Galapagos. There is a lot of wild life and we couldn’t see them all because we would have needed a lot more time than the 20 day visa we obtained and we would also need a lot more money as well. They do have a kind of penguins that we couldn’t see other than by taking a 2 day tour at $ 200.00 each so we passed on this one. Here you can see the swimming iguanas, unique to the Galapagos, and incredible red crabs wandering everywhere along the shore. By the way the Galapagos are volcanic islands and this is why the rocks are all black like this.

But really one doesn’t need to go on a tour to see animals here. Everywhere from the railing of the boat to the branches of the trees you just need to look to start seeing birds of all kinds. Pelicans, which are common everywhere outside the Galapagos, mocking birds or other one we cannot name are here to be photographed.

When I was 26 or 28 years old I went to Bermuda and took a dive tour without having any certification. We had to dive down to 30 feet (10m) and the instructor told us on the boat, while we were going to the dive site, a few little things we had to know such as signs underwater. A 20 minutes explanation and splash we were in the water with a tank on our back. I liked it very much and when we arrived in Galapagos they offered us a diving tour to go see hammer sharks, turtles, and some other wild life. We asked to do the tour a little later and the guy asked us what our diver certification level was. We looked at each other and answered “Well, none!“. Then he replied back “Well, you can’t dive then”. That’s when we decided to take the PADI certification. Roger and I went last Friday to do the first day of the open water course. We had an instructor for each of us. After we put all equipment on our back, which weighted about 2 tons, tank, suit and all he told us to walk about 5 feet on the pier and jump into the water WOW! Anyway, we successfully did it. I don’t know how though. We went down about 20 feet deep and the exercises started. First my instructor gave me the sign to remove my regulator from my mouth euh, what? Euh? Right now? Well, a moment please, ok I thiinnkkk that I am ready. Voila!, the regulator is removed and hanging somewhere behind my back attached to the tank. Now I have to retrieve it and make bubbles from my mouth all the time while the regulator is out, put it back in my mouth, blow in it, and finally breathe. Oh! Oh! No air left in my lung to blow the water out of the regulator!! I made the sign indicating I have no air (the sign looks like I will cut off your throat if you don’t give me some!) and another sign that I am going at the surface RIGHT NOW! I started swimming toward the surface. Half a second later he grabbed my leg, pulled me back down and, in a second, plugged his second regulator in my mouth, WOW! Air again. That was weird but hey, I had air again. I can breathe underwater! During the next 40 minutes we practiced many things of the course such as filling my mask full of water and emptying it with my nose. That was not so bad. In the afternoon, we had a second dive. This time he added 2 more weights to my belt. I will never be able to come back at the surface I thought. I am done, I will drown. I could barely stand with it. Now, jumping in the water and start descending oh! oh! Can’t breathe! I felt like a queen, you know with these corsets around their waist. I CAN’T BREATH! I’m going to the surface but this time I was only 2 feet deep so he couldn’t stop me ha ha! Even at the surface, I couldn’t breathe! The instructor calmed me down since I was obviously on stress, and he said ok we will not do the course today we will just learn to relax and swim and enjoy the dive. We then went down for about 40 minutes without any other incidents. The water in the morning was clear but in the afternoon it was so murky that we couldn’t see 5 feet ahead of us. He said that I panicked because of that. When the water is blurry like that it takes about 3 days to clear again. We will then wait 3 days before continuing the course. The problem is the visa is about to expire and the weather was good to leave in 3 to 4 days. To finish the course in these few days, we will have to dive twice a day. NO WAY! This is way too fast for me, I need more time. I then decided to stop the certification and take it again later when we have more time and clear water. This is why Roger is busy. He has to finish it by himself :-(

Although most tours are very expensive in the Galapagos we found one that wasn’t too bad and went to see a turtle sanctuary where 100 years old Galapagos turtles are protected in order to try to get their population up again. Here we had a lot of fun. We arrived at the time where they feed the turtle with these large leaves and since they are used to the human presence we could feed them by hand. They were quite funny to see snapping into the stem of the leaf in a rapid movement of the head coming out from under their carapace. By the way I put a video of this in our video section for you to see. It would have been nice to pet them but honestly a cat is much smoother than a hundred years old turtle! Not to mention that after seeing how hard they can snap through their food we found wiser just to not touch them altogether!

The animal we liked the most was the sea lions. Let me explain why. When we arrived on March 10th in the anchorage we saw a catamaran with a couple of sea lions on their steps so we thought “This is so cute”. We then put the anchor down and proceeded to check in in the country. As soon as we came back on the boat, we started looking for sea lions if any of them were lying on our boat. What a deception when we found none. Then at night 2 of them climbed on the boat and installed themselves comfortably for the rest of the night. We thought, “Oh! They are so cute with their big brown eyes and their big noses they really look like big puppies”. We did everything to not disturb them and made sure they stay. In the morning we had about 5 sea lions lying on the steps, on the deck and even one in the cockpit comfortably installed on our cockpit cushions. That was magic. I said to Roger “Leave them there, they are so cute and they can’t put dirt anywhere since they are coming from the water they are clean anyway”. We left the boat to go explore the island and came back only at the end of the day. What a surprise! During the day, with the hot sun, they started to dry and the nice smooth skin changed for a big fur shedding everywhere on the boat. That wasn’t all, they were so comfortably installed that they didn’t want to leave the boat when they felt they need to go to do their thing so they simply pooped everywhere (and we are talking about 200 to 300 pounds sea lions here) they rolled all day long in it and crawled all over the boat dragging and spreading their stuff under them ARKKKKK!!! We started to raise our voices “GO OUT! GO OUT!” until all of them were back in the water. Ok now we had to scrub the entire boat for about 2 hours. After 2 hours we gave up since the boat was stained all over. We start looking to other boats and noticed that all of them had big pile of fenders in their steps preventing the nasty poopers to come aboard. We then piled all fenders and jugs we had on the steps. Good, none of them climbed the following night and the next day. The night after though we heard a big bang around 2:00 am. We rushed outside to found a huge sea lion on the deck. It was there for probably few hours because it had done all its needs on the deck. Brown disgusting stuff was everywhere again. Roger and I started to scrub all over again in the middle of the night. The day after we added ropes to all the jugs and fenders and were glad to see that no sea lions were climbing anymore. Well for two days at least. Every couple of days, they found a new trick to bypass our huge pile of stuff, that was growing every 2 days and getting more and trickier to go through, and to climb again. We scrubbed the entire boat every 2 or 3 days for a large part of the time we stayed in Galapagos. Roger said “I am sure they have meeting every morning all together to discuss new tricks on how to climb through the new setup“.
Don’t get me wrong, They still are cute and social animal as far as they stay in the WATER!

To conclude with Galapagos, if you really want to see it, the best way is to take a cruise of 4 to 7 days and they will take you to each island. If you come with a sailboat like us, you are not allow to move your boat anywhere so you have to take tour boats to visit islands which is very expensive. The reason is that they want to protect the environment and maybe a little bit to create employment who knows…