Chapter 12::Table of Contents::Book_2

Chapter 13
Galapagos
Part 3

Wed. Nov 29,

Slept late. Its nice not to feel the earth move beneath your feet.

Had the rest of our cookies for breakfast. Found out that Els & Jaap had camped just down the line next to another Dutch couple (without a tent). With Dan & Ben we went over to the park office and waited around for a typewriter and a guy to type up our camping permits.

The water at this campground is brackish - can’t drink it and can’t wash out soap with it, as N. found out trying to take a shower. The water comes out in a trickle, and they lock the non-flushing toilets at nite. 75 sucres and 30 min. later we had our park camping permits.

Then off to the Darwin station. Inside we saw many young turtles of differing species, being raised to an age of 3, when they’re released. Outside we ran into the same group of tourists that invaded our beach at Bartolomé. They were in town for the day. One fellow had paid a travel agent in N.Y. for a package Gal. deal only to find upon arrival here that the money hadn’t. He paid twice and was real pissed. These folks even had to pay for ferry service between port and the boat.

Outside the Station were the big pens where they kept some mature tortugas for visitors . Truly huge animals. One named “Antonio” weighed 300 kilos and was purported to be 160 yrs. old. The guide said he could still “get it up” but that they don’t start screwing ’til they’re about 50. Another one would stand up on all fours and stretch out its neck when stroked by a guide . Amazing animals.

On our way out we met an older couple from Calif. looking for a boat. We talked about the islands for a while and told them Hood was the one to see. A nice couple. From there we walked into town looking for food. The market was closed. We went across the street and had a typical meal. With the rest of the after. to kill, we went down to the big restaurant “Ninfa” and hung around outside.

First we met a guy from St. Paul who had been on a pig killing expedition to Santiago, then we met a lady from Switzerland who had been traveling for a year or so by herself through Mex., Guat, and Central Am. A nice lady - looking for a boat. The thing is to get a tour together before hitting the island. Once here it’s hard to find a group and it’s expensive to just hang around. We were lucky.

Since there was no military flight today - D & B bought tickets with TAME. But then we heard rumors of one on Sunday. We debated hanging around and taking our chances with the military but it didn’t sound too good. We also heard about a charter going tomorrow. D & B whose visas were running out - and who wanted to get to Oltavalo for the Sat. market - went to try and get on the charter, thinking they could sell us their Friday tickets.

While they were off checking in to it - we met a fellow who was working as a guide on one of the big tour boats. Earlier at the Park Office - N had inquired about becoming a naturalist guide. He got all sorts of info. The guy we met said that the guides are hired by the tour companies - not the park. The bigger boats pay very well ($10,000/yr) but you have to be a biologist or speak 3 different lang. to get on. After killing some more time and photoing a pelican sitting on a branch above the harbor, D & B finally returned with no luck. [1] So we went off to the TAME office to buy tickets ourselves - but they had only one. The guy wasn’t coming with more ’til 5:30.

So we went to the market (now open) and D & B bought cukes, toms, g. pepps. & bread. Then back to the Ninfa where we sat at a table in one room (after being kicked out of the other because they didn’t serve beers in there) and D & B proceeded to make sandwiches to the great ire of the management. We bought beers to appease them but it didn’t seem to help.

Earlier, we had ordered 2 Pepsis, and when they arrived they were only like 8 oz. bottles but they wanted 7 sucres. Outrageous, we refused to pay and walked out. Also earlier we saw our capt. (Rudolpho) 3 sheets to the wind. He’d been tying one on since yesterday when we got in. A real basket case. We saw him again later while we were hanging out, he’d slept off a bit but was back at it.

After sandwiches - N & I went to the TAME office again and finally got our tickets for Friday. Then back to the Ninfa. On the way we ran into Cath. but spoke little. At the Ninfa - Raoul, D & B were sitting around drinking beer. [2] N & I ordered up a good fish dinner. Afterwards we bemoaned the fact that this island has no milk, water, soda pop, good beer, women, or pot.

We ate dinner, downed a few more beers, and headed back to the campground by way of the cookie store. Sat around with D & B eating. Ben has some phrases like “S-O-L” (shit out of luck) “Worthless as tits on a board” or “Worthless as a cunt full of cold piss” or just “shitless”. “Didn’t do fuck-all” “Horse’s ass - cow’s titty” or just “shiiiiiiit!” Every other work is “asshole” or “shit”. A nice guy with an anal fixation.

Finches and lava lizards visit our campsite. Mocking birds come right up - fearless. It’s amazing to see not tame, but not fearful animals so close up [3] . We retired to the sound of rain on the roof.

Thurs Nov 30.

Got up early to a breakfast of coconut cookies.

Got our shit together and along with Dan & Ben hopped on the bus to Santa Rosa. From there we walked down a god-awful muddy path to the tortoise reserve. After a couple hours walk we encountered various large and small turtles scattered about in their “natural state”. These weren’t tame ones like yesterday. We’d come close to have a look and they’d duck into their shells, emitting a loud whooshing sound made by exhaling. They’d stay inside until we were well away.

We walked through some beautiful lush green areas; trees hung with moss, flowering plants, thick undergrowth, and every so often - another turtle just munching down. These are really big mothers. Maybe 6’ extended from nose to tail. We stopped in a clearing and ate a lunch of tuna sandwiches and cookies. We walked a little ways farther until the trail ended. There we saw some Vermillion Fly Catchers. Bright red sparrow sized birds. There we turned back.

By this time it had started to rain. Back up the muddy, slippery, rocky hill. I had put my left boot on loose - favoring my big toe still healing from the James bay volcano. This caused me to get another blister on my heel. Wet sox & boots added to the discomfort. 2 hours back and we were all drenched. D&B more than N&I since they had only tennies. On our walk back we spotted an owl flying off into the distance.

We got to Santa Rosa but there was no bus. So, I tied up my shoes - gritted my teeth - and began the walk back to Puerto Ayora. About 3k down the road we were picked up by the same fellow in the little red Toyauto that took us into P.A. our first day. Crammed in the back, we made it to town with the cheese man (who sold us 2 cheeses), a lady with live chickens in a bag, and a load of papayas. In town we stopped at the bread store next to the Chifa and got bread. We proceeded to make cheese sandwiches and drink papaya juice [4] .

We limped back to the tent, took off our wet boots, marveled at our wrinkled feet, and retired to write & relax. A good walk to see the turtles. I thought I’d seen enough at the Darwin station, but it’s exciting to see them in the wild.

It had rained all nite last nite and Jaap and Els without a tent got royally soaked. The other Dutch couple found a boat yesterday and pulled out today. Just the 2 of them on a 6 person boat going out for 10 days to Isabela, Ferdinand, Tower, Daphne - all the places we didn’t get to. It was tempting to go with them but cash & motivation were at a low ebb.

On our way back to the campground we met again the 2 old folks from Ca. They finally had a line on a boat. It’s nice to see older people traveling “gringo style” staying away from the big tours, and eating in cheap places like us.

N. went over to the TAME office to check on our plane time. On the way back he ran into a black guy named Carlos who invited us over to listen to music after dinner. A prospective pot connection.

N,D,B&I all went back to the Ninfa for langosto. There we were served by a little lady (17) named Gloria. Very cute. She works from 7AM to 9PM every day and makes 1500S/month ($60). As we were finishing our meal - 2 beautiful French ladies came in. They sat at the table across from us but we invited them over to join us. Jacklyne & Cathlene. These 2 ladies were gorgeous. They’d worked in Switz. in real estate but now were traveling in S.A. Soon we were joined by Carlos. He again invited us all over to his house for music, but he had no pot.

On the way to Carlos’s house the girls were side-tracked by another fellow who invited them to a slide show. D,B,N,C&I all went to his (Carlos’s) house and listened to Rolling Stones, and other U.S. groups, while drinking rum & grapefruit juice. Soon the girls showed up with the other guy. They all proceeded to dance “disco” while I watched and drank.

As the eve. wore on another 4 guys showed up with a bottle of Jonnie Walker Red. We sat and talked to the fellow who brought the bottle - a Belgian living in the Gal. for 6 yrs. He told us how to become guides: you need a degree in Bio. and at least 3 lang. But just show up in Sept. and take the guide course and you’ll maybe get a job. Much scotch later we staggered back to the tent [5] for a late nite snack of bread, cheese & peanuts

FRI DEC 1.

Awoke to a feeling of slowness.

I think N. was pissed it took me so long to get my shit together but I was feeling about 75% with an acid stomach & woozey head. But we got everything together and went off for Breakfast at the Ninfa with D&B. There we had cold greasy eggs and strong coffee. At breakfast we met the German folks who had hired the first boat out from under us. They told of catching fish, goats, and lobster. Old Rudolpho was too much a sleeper to try and get us food.

After breakfast we loaded into a crowded, open sided bus and drove off to the north end of the island. There - one of the Germs. discovered he’d left a couple cameras back at the rest. He had to hire a car to hustle him back to Puerto A. at a fantastic price (like 600S).

The first 2 boatloads were full over to Baltra but we finally got across on the 3rd load. There we decided to walk to the airport. “Prohibido” the bus driver said. This is very strange. The people have already destroyed any native animal life on Baltra, they litter all over, but you can’t walk on the road because it’s a Nat’l Park.

“Every day in South America is like an April Fools joke” as Dan says.

At the airport we waited for the hour-late plane. When it arrived it had to park way down at the end due to construction on the runway. Everybody crowded around the stairs to board the plane. These people have no concept of orderly lines. Just push and shove. Once aboard, the flight was uneventful. The only noteworthy point was the very good dinner that was served.

At the stopover in Guayaquil, N met Richard - a teacher from Ca. An intelligent fellow with lots to say. He told about traveling in Mexico and teaching in Ca. [6] On the ground in Quito we collected our bags and felt refreshed by the cool, crisp air. Squeezed into a taxi - the 5 of us rode off to the Gran Gringo. En route through the old part of town I looked out the back window to see the trunk bobbing up & down and the top of a head. Someone had jumped on the back of the taxi and was trying to get at our packs just set inside. I yelled “¡Paré!” and Dan jumped out the door but by that time the thief had vanished down the dark street. Luckily he hadn’t had time to untie the trunk cord and nothing was stolen. A close call.

At the Gringo we checked in and rummaged through a room full of packs & shit, finally locating our 3 bags we’d left behind. The only things we didn’t find were our posters. Then off to the kitchen to eat. There we met Paul, an Englishman, and his friend Gary. Paul talked about traveling in Peru, getting high for the first time 7 mos. ago, working in Zurich (a pr. of Levis goes for $60 in Zurich) meeting nice people from the U.S., and his opinion of what happens after death. Soon we were joined by D&B. Dan and I talked about making yoghurt, cheese, growing veggies and apples. Ben & Rich went out for beers while N&I retired to write.

Only tonite did we realize that we left our 2 plastic cups on the Gabriel. Also - after yesterday’s walk in the rain, I discovered that some of the outside stitching on my left boot is coming unsewed. I’ll have to hit up a shoe repair shop.


[1] They had, however, gotten 8 more days on their visas at the police station here.

[2] Later Cath. joined us. She said little.

[3] Saw one lava lizard trying to eat another smaller one. Had hold of its tail and wrestled around the rocks before the little one got away.

[4] Going back to the tent we saw an egret or some crane-like all white bird.

[5] in the dark

[6] and traveling in Japan

Chapter 12::Table of Contents::Book_2