The day started early with us leaving the boat at 08:00 and landing on the dock at Santa Cruz Island. The dock had sea lions parked on the benches at the wharf, sharks swimming in the bay, golden rays skimming the surface of the water, turtles lazily floating near the shore and an iguana swimming by just to provide us with something else to talk about. The dock had all the animals we had delighted in seeing during our various travels among the islands. Soon we boarded a bus to get dropped off at the entrance to the Darwin Station. There we learned about the efforts of the Ecuadorian National Park Service to protect and save the 14 endangered species of tortoises that inhabit the various islands. We learned the history of “Lonesome George”, who was the last of his species and died several years ago bringing his species to extinction. From the first moment we landed in Ecuador and each day after we have been impressed with the respect and compassion that the Ecuadorian people have for other people, animals, and their environment. We had an opportunity to learn the extensive steps that the people of Galapagos take to protect the unique inhabitants of the islands. We were impressed by the people in Quito who walked the streets fully masked to protect others. Rarely did we see someone who was not wearing it properly. In the islands of Galapagos we learned how extensive efforts are to recycle and the management of farms and pets to avoid the destruction of the beautiful islands. At the dock at Santa Cruz, we saw a display under a pop-up shelter which read: “I respect your desire to smoke. Please respect my desire to live.”
After our Darwin Station tour, we had free time and took advantage of that to enjoy the Santa Cruz community. Kathy, Dave, Elena, and Chris strolled back the mile to the dock, occasionally popping into a store to peruse the wares or stop for ice cream for Kathy, or coffee for Chris. The goal of the morning was to find empanadas for Elena. Unfortunately, we were thwarted in that endeavor. Elena did find several items to buy and both couples bought postcards to leave on Post Card Island. Noon came quickly and we boarded the dinghy back to the boat were we enjoyed a typical Ecuadorian meal for lunch.
The day was not yet done. Soon we were back on the dinghies and headed back to Santa Cruz Island to visit the lush green highlands. We visited a giant turtle reserve and learned about the efforts to save and preserve the gentle giant tortoises. We learned how they work on finding a balance of keeping the turtles safe while coexisting with ranches and farms. The entire group shared a drink at a local pub and soon we were back on board. Dinner was a magnificent affair where we got the best banana cake ever……G would have been quite impressed. We did figure out the email which we were supposed to have received from G. It had gone into our spam folders. We were thankful she had set up a shared drive to share our photos with each other. G, if you read this, we hope you get the postcard from us is hand delivered by the love of your life. And remember, we want an invitation to the wedding if it comes to fruition!