The Galapagos – Pt.10

A prickle pear cactus

After our breakfast, we left straight away; our time on Isabella was over. The next and last island was Santa Cruz. The boat ride was about two hours long, like most of the other trips, however, this time, there were no whale, shark or even dolphin sightings. Zip. Most of the people snoozed, though. At our arrival, to save time, we did not go to our hotel, but rather straight to the Darwin Center.

The Darwin Center is a mix of things. It's a natural park, an interpretation center, and a base for researchers. We passed through the interpretation center where we learned about the wildlife of the Galapagos and a bit more about how it is preserved. We also saw Lonesome George, the most famous tortoise of the Galapagos.

A glimpse of Lonesome George

George is known to be the last of his subspecies, the Pinta Island Tortoise. He was discovered on Pinta Island after it was thought that they were all gone in 1971. He was brought for safe-keeping to the Charles Darwin Center and penned with two females of a different subspecies. He has been dubbed 'Lonesome' as for many years he did not even attempt to mate with the females. Researchers became desperate, with George's death the Pinta tortoises effectively become extinct. Many people were delighted when the females started hatching eggs, but thus far, none of the eggs survived or even hatched. There is a substantial reward for anyone who discovers a female Pinta, to ensure purebred descendants.

Just after the tortoises we saw land iguanas, who are brilliantly orange/red. We learned that for a while they had also been going down the wrong track and were in danger, so a plan to repopulate was put into action, but when the plan worked beyond expectations, all the iguanas were set back out into the wild except for three which were kept for the sake of showing visitors what they were like. They were the only land iguanas we saw, as we were not really in the right places for wild ones.

After the center, we went straight to lunch at a nice little pier front restaurant. Almost half of the group had gotten sick just like me, and so that's why some stayed in the Santa Cruz town, by far the most advanced and tourist-centered, while the others went on one last hike to a beach.

As for myself, I was not as healed as I had thought myself to be, and I had also noticed the beginnings of an infection in my latest wounds, so I also decided to stay. My Travel Companion went, however.

Restaurant where we had our lunch.

The first thing I did for my free afternoon was ask at the reception where I could find a pharmacy, and from there I had a nice stroll through quite a bit of the town, until I finally reached a pharmacy. I bought an antiseptic for my wounds and then was back on my way. I did a great loop and passed in front of all the souvenir shops that sell exactly the same things. I bought souvenirs there for me as well as for my family, and continued down along the pier road, trying to look for the one street that led to the hotel. I thought I spotted it and ended up doing a loop and ending back where I was. The bright side was that I then spotted Rehana, also on a shopping spree, who was as lost as myself. I didn't feel as hopeless. We walked on and that was when we spotted Denis and Gail sitting at a cafe. We asked them if they knew where the hotel was, and miraculously they did. Only then did I notice that the cafe they were at sold icecream. Mouth already watering, I ordered a double scoop pistachio and caramel in a cone. Setting out with souvenirs in one hand and an ice-cream in the other, I went on a glorious quest to the hotel. My journey was full of perilous dangers such as the dreadful Dripping Icecream, and not to mention the get-key-out-of-bag-and-open-door-without-dropping-icecream foe. But I arrived safe and sound, as did the icecream. I settled on the chairs on our hotel balcony and finished my cone while reading, just enjoying the warm air and the sunlight.

Once everyone was back from their trip, My Travel Companion and I went for a little shopping stroll before rendez-vousing for dinner. We trailed around until it was finally time to eat. It was then that we had our last dinner, at least, we treated it as such. Pablo gave a moving speech, we all talked about what we had seen so far, and of course we retold the fantastic tale of the whale shark.

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