Chapter 10::Table of Contents::Chapter 12

Chapter 11
Galapagos
Part 1

Sat. Nov. 18:

Awoke early, not hung over.

N. C. D & I went into town to procure goods for the voyage. We bought all sorts of fresh veggies, eggs, cheese, salami, bread, jelly and other staples. Got all the food loaded on, the capt. & 1st mate aboard, and with a little manual starter action, were on our way.

We decided to make scrambled eggs for breakfast. The first egg that we cracked (it fell on the floor) was rotten. About half of the other ones we bought were also bad. I peeled the toms & onions & green peps. but by the time the eggs were done I was feeling real queasy. I came out and laid on the deck for a long while, trying not to feel sick. Then I ate some bread & a few bites of eggs. After laying for a while longer - I got sick. Puking off the back of the boat. Once I did that I felt better but still went inside & laid down for a couple hours.

Our first stop was at Santa Fe. The boat pulled into a beautiful sea green bay surrounded by rocks & cactus trees. By the time we arrived I felt much better and ate a couple cheese and salami sandwiches. Got all the camera gear ready, got on the launch and went off to visit the seals. [1]

We’d seen them swimming around the boat at our anchorage but on the shore they were laying about in the sand and on the rocks, just sunning themselves. Incredibly tame or fearless. You could walk up to within 6’ and not arouse a response. Took many close ups of seals, even a mother with nursing baby.

We trucked up the hill to see land iguanas, but they were all hiding from the sun and us. We did see many fine examples of cactus finches, and even a dove. By the time we reached the top of the hill, another tour boat, the Delfin, showed up with about 30-40 people. They were huffing & puffing up the hill. One fellow had a movie camera with sound and was photoing the seals.

While waiting for the launch to fetch us, N & I amused ourselves by photoing the crabs that scuttle around over the rocks, hide in crevices & jump from rock to rock quite rapidly when startled. Finally, the launch took us back to the boat where after drinking about 4 big glasses of water, I put on my trunks & dove in. Beautiful. I circumnavigated the boat and came back in to Lemonade & Tea.

Once everybody had swum & drunk, the relaxing period began. We laid on deck and dried, wrote, and afterwards prepared dinner. Had a big batch of what was supposed to be chili, with the salami, rice, green peps., beans, etc. very good.

After dinner, N. C. & I sat on the deck, looking at the stars and talking about books such as Hamlet’s Mill and other esoteric realities.

Sun. Nov. 19.

Awoke to the chugging of the engine.

We got underway to San Cristobal at about 5 AM. I slept ’til we arrived at about 9. Everybody got up and we made a big batch of Terranaut Glop with bananos, panella, evaporated milk, bread & cheese. A big hit.

Once breakfast & dishes were done, we loaded into the launch & went ashore to buy provisions. First to the bread store which had no bread yet. Then to try and find some cheese. Not any to be found. Wound up buying beans, more powd. & evap. milk, and some orange crush for immediate consumption. Then C. & I went back to the bread store in time for piping hot rolls. MMM. Bought 120 and consumed several of the suckers on the spot.

We took our goods to the dock to be transported back to the boat, then we headed to the museum. A motheaten display of most of the animal & sea life to be found in these parts. Saw the difference between sea lions (Lobos del Mar) and fur seals (Foca). Saw Great Frigate birds, boobies, lobsters, a whale skull & some vertebrae. Plus displays of dirt from all the different islands.

Here we found out that the Neptuno, the big cruiser parked next to us at the dock, is parked due to lack of generator power. 5 of 6 generators had burned out. All the tourists were shipped off.

At the museo we asked about things to see on the island. The crater that’s 20k away takes a taxi to get to and costs 300S/taxi. Too much. There’s also a marine iguana colony in one direction past the airport, and a frigate colony off the other way past the beaches. [2]

C. N. Else, Gaap, & I took off to find the iguanas. We walked along the black rock strewn beach looking, but found only little crabs. After about 2 1/2 hours of strolling & photoing we gave up and headed back to the boat. At the dock, N & C. decided to hit up the market for more fruit. I went out to the boat. There I talked with Dan & Ben who had gone the other way and had seen the frigate bird colony (a small one), some boobies & one iguana. We went the wrong way.

When C & N returned with nothing (the mkt. was closed) we sat around for a while & then cooked up tuna surprise with noodles, tomato sauce, green p, onions & coffee on the side.

After dinner we read until the lights became too dim. Then retired to a sound sleep. A slow day.

Mon Nov 20.

Awoke to find a hole chewed in the side pocket of my camera bag. The theory is that it was done by a rat looking for the shell I had stashed in the pocket. Not a serious occurrence but rather disappointing.

While we waited for the port Authority to open and give us permission to leave, N. Dan, and Jaap went into town & bought some bananas, avocados, and onions. Finally the capt. came on board with a story of the Authority being drunk. He typed out our names on a list but none were even close to being correct.

About 10 we finally got underway to Hood. Everybody laid about on the deck catching a few rays. Soon I began to feel a bit ill from the sun & rocking boat and laid down inside. I wound up sleeping through most of the voyage. It took us a long time to reach Hood due to contrary winds & currents.

We arrived at about 4PM and after a perilous ride into shore, dodging waves & sea lions, we finally saw some wild life. There are many sea lions here. Many younger ones than on Santa Fe. In fact there was one sleeping right on the foot path which we had to step over to get to the other side. It only barked a little. Incredibly tame.

Then we saw the marine Iguanas. Fascinatingly repulsive beasts. First we saw only one but a little farther on there were whole rocks covered with the critters. By moving slowly you could get within 2 or 3 feet of them. Many were covered with red algae looking spots. Then there were the blue footed boobies . All over the rocks just posing for photos. Got within 6-10 feet before they’d fly off. Fantastic.

We only had an hour or so to look around but we’ll come back tomorrow to see the albatrosses. On the way back to the boat a big bull sea lion chased N. up to the sleeping one on the path. N. just about stepped on it. On the boat back to the Gabriel we were partially swamped by a big wave which caught us from the side. We shipped about 6" of water and got all shoes wet.

Back at the boat we cooked up a big batch of soup. I wasn’t feeling too well and ate only a little. I retired early but not before settling a meal. That seemed also to settle my stomach.

This is a remarkable place. It’s totally different being here than reading about it. The reality, from the tame lions to the plugged up toilet, pervades and excludes all other thoughts. We’re here. A once in a life time adventure. A 10 day cruise around one of the most fantastic places on earth.

Tues Nov. 21:

Awoke after a night of bobbing to & fro & listening to the anchor chain rubbing against the side of the boat. Had left over soup with an additional dose of potatoes for breakfast.

Chores completed, we headed into land. There we saw more blue & masked boobies with chicks, many baby seals, lava lizards, marine iguanas covered with red & green, some waved albatrosses clacking beaks , lava gulls , frigate birds in flight, many finches, swallow tail gulls, and many other birds. Saw big lava cliffs stained white with bird shit. The masked boobie nests lay right on the path. No need to search for them, just look out you don’t step on them. Also saw oyster catchers & tropic birds.

We wandered around the peninsula for over 3 hours photoing, marveling, tanning, & getting high. What a place. Words fail to convey the enchanted nature of this place. The incredibly tame animals are hard to believe. After getting our fill of the sights we walked back to the beach past the “blowhole”, a gap in the rocks through which waves are shot 100’ into the air. The mist sprays far into the wind.

Back at the boat we made lemonade, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with bananas on the side. What a treat. All the other folks went back to the island for another hour or so while I stayed here & read & slept a little. When they all got back we cruised up the shore a ways to another cove and hopefully quieter seas for sleeping.

Made up a good batch of rice & lentil stew with bread & cheese and cookies for desert. After dinner we settled the meal with Else, Jaap, Dan & Ben. Had a good time sitting on the deck listening to stories.

Wed. Nov. 22

Awoke early to terranaut glop and getting underway.

Fished for a little while but caught only an inedible puffer fish and another edible “Gringo” fish. All red. Spent all morning laying in the sun on deck tooling through beautiful waters. At a couple points we saw dolphins swimming along with the boat. 3 of them swam right off the bow keeping up with the boat effortlessly. Shortly after that we saw a hammerhead shark swimming close to the surface. Also saw more frigate birds and albatross. I retired below decks to read and avoid further sunburn.

Ben is a crazy fellow, he’ll stand on deck not hanging on to anything and play with the bouncing ship.

We finally arrived at Floriana. Got to shore and were welcomed by more sea lions . The landscape is more volcanic here. The island has a cone and you can see where the lava flow came down in sheets. It has eroded and the sheets have fallen exposing the under-layers of lava. Just over the hill was the flamingo lagoon. Only a dozen or so flamingos and all at great distance. Took photos with the 400MM.

We were greeted upon our arrival at the harbor by a park ranger boat. The guy came on board & checked all our park permits, then accompanied us to the island. We couldn’t climb the volcano and there weren’t many birds to see.

It’d be nice to spend a few days walking around looking at the landscape, but so far we’ve spent almost all our time in the boat.

After seeing the flamingos we came back to the beach & went swimming. Then Raoul came in to get us.

Back at the boat to our surprise the capt. had managed to catch 7 fish. With the one from this morn that made almost enough for everybody. Cooked up fish, fried spuds & rice for dinner. After a little speculation we determined that the capt. must have gotten the fish from the ranger boat. Just a little too perfect to catch exactly the right amount for everybody to have one.

Settled the meal on deck and watched the falling stars and listened to the sea-lions swimming around the boat.

Thurs Nov 23;

Thanksgiving.

Woke early to yet another batch of Terranaut glop. Today was a long 8 hour ride to Rabida. Activities were limited to sun tanning, lounging about, and reading. The most constructive thing done all day was to take stock of our diminishing food supply. By scrimping - we’ll have just enough to make it through Monday. I read Shockwave Rider most of the day.

We finally arrived at Rabida about 3PM. Went ashore to see more sea lions (many young ones [3] ) and one (count ’em, one) flamingo. Nice landscape with Palo Santo trees & cactus on red lava rocks. Walked around for a while photoing & enjoying the freedom of being off the boat.

After our excursion ashore we got back to cook up a thanksgiving dinner: the last of our salami, some beans, corn, cauliflower, toms., potats all made into a thick soup with bread & jelly on the side. After dinner we decided to celebrate. [4] Took out the pot and sat around the table getting high with everybody but the capt. That guy spends most of the time sleeping.

We’ve gotten to be good friends with Dan Freidman and Ben Syus (?) [5] Ben is the energetic, talkative type, playing with the waves and always in good spirits. He always does the dishes. He seems to like it. He’s been traveling for over a year & is heading back home (Oregon) shortly. He reminds me of a not so neurotic Jamie Weitzman. Dan is more cool, less outgoing, but a very nice fellow. He told stories of putting a bucket over a rooster to stop it from crowing and trying to catch a little pig just for something to do. A tall red haired, likable fellow that even Catherine has grown to like (first impressions can be wrong).

Cath. has become more quiet as the trip goes on. A 30yr old language teacher from near Toronto, short, curly hair, buck teeth, and a very likable, but a twinge of high-society-bitch keeps her somewhat remote. She never really got into the drug scene like the 4 of us guys. but likes to get high occasionally & enjoys listening to me talk about the stars. She’s been working diligently on her tan, but Else is the popular choice in the suntan dept. (N. not included). She’s (Else) a slightly plump, rather plain looking Dutch Girl. She looks “typical” to me, as did so many of the girls I saw last year in Amsterdam. Noteworthy not because of their beauty, but because of their almost complete plainness.

Else seems to be intelligent, she speaks English very well and has a nice sense of humor. But she’s practical. In matters of organization, planning and execution she is a motivating force. She gets right to the problem and tries to solve it. At times she seems nagging or just on the verge... She and Jaap are living together (not married) and she seems rather proud of that. She is refreshingly liberal in her thinking but has a helping of typical feminine fear (spiders, cold water, etc.) Jaap, on the other hand, is the tall, quiet type. Longish hair and a scraggly beard, he too looks Dutch. Thin as a rail with easily burned and always peeling skin (like mine). He has a good wit and a level head, but he’s more introspective, perhaps the most introspective of the bunch.

Ben’s the rabble rouser, playing group leader from the rocks to the seals; Dan’s the down home American boy, Cath. is the clique - oriented (almost Maureen - like) professional seeking freedom & relaxation; Jaap & Else - the Dutch couple that everybody likes, but they don’t culturally fit right in with the American modismos. Every other phrase is “getting shitfaced", "far-out", "a double-shot o’ my baby’s love", and "good-humor” Intellectually they’re right on top - but linguistically they’re one step behind. Links have developed between Dan - Ben - N & I that form one core group on the boat. This has taken time to develop. Then there’s Raoul. He sleeps in the cot/seat by the bathroom door. Never seen without his seaman's hat pulled down to his eyebrows, he’s the launch driver and toilet unplugger. [6]


[1] My hat had blown off in the wind. We had to drive the launch over to pick it out of the water.

[2] We stopped by the hospital and ate some bread and one cheese we managed to find. There we met a nurse who was allergic to long travel. She brought us some water.

[3] One little one came up and sniffed my foot. Took pix of Gal. dove.

[4] The capt. was on the ranger boat.

[5] Sias

[6] On the boat they just throw all the trash overboard. This is supposed to be a protected area but nobody seems to realize that it needs protection more from the natives than from the tourists. The Latin mentality about trash (over the side, fuck the animals) still prevails.

Chapter 10::Table of Contents::Chapter 12