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Old 05-22-2014, 08:43 AM   #1876
Blader54
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I getcha on "hangry face"! SWMBO exhibits that visage without regularly scheduled feedings! I may have this wrong, but is it Fall where you are, heading toward winter? Just thinking that if warm and sunny are desired then maybe it's time to head over to Europe for the summer and hit up the rest of South America later in the trip?
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Old 05-22-2014, 08:46 AM   #1877
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....And I was tempting fate by snapping pictures of her in the state, because usually it's followed by her "hangry face"...
BWahahahaha....Oh brother.....I soooo know the feeling!Here's to poking the hangry bear!
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Old 05-22-2014, 02:24 PM   #1878
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We have both been feeling travel fatigue for quite some time now, just trying to find a good place to settle down where it's sunny and quiet.
Just back from Baja......lots of sun and lots of quiet in places.
It was a nice relief from Vancouver winter weather.

I remember reading waaaaay back you really liked La Paz.
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:46 AM   #1879
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/153.html



We're going to the Galapagos Islands!

Neda is a huge wildlife buff and the perpetually sunny climate on the islands will be a good break from our rainy ride through the wet season.


More free advertising in exchange for a picture of the two of us :)

We needed a place to store the bikes while we were going to be away, so we dropped by Ecuador Freedom Bike Rentals to see if they could help out. Their mechanic, Diego, had a shop right across the street where we could park the motorcycles.


I needed to fuel up for the trip

Neda's been feeling a bit nauseous for the last couple of days, she suspects the ceviche she had before was the culprit. I was okay, so we found my favorite Central American chicken place, Pollo Camperos, and I pigged out on some fried chicken. This turned out to be a huge mistake.

That same night, I started feeling sick as well. Neda is usually the Distant Early Warning indicator for stomach illnesses. She gets sick and then 8-12 hours later, I do too, but 10X worse. I'm not sure if it was the food both of us ate the day before or the Pollo Camperos. I suspect it was the chicken. :(

We had an early morning flight out of Quito and all night I was driving the porcelain bus. Neda hovered over me like a backseat driver, and worriedly asked if we should cancel the flight. Unfortunately, it was a non-refundable ticket, so I would just have to suffer and hope the check-in desk would admit me on the plane even though I looked like death warmed over.

I got no sleep at all that night. It was still dark when the taxi rang up to our room and I picked up the phone before the first ring finished. Neda had to load all our bags in the back, and I stuck my head out the window like a dog the entire ride to get cold, fresh air on my face, and also to make sure that I would paint the outside of the car instead of the interior. At the airport, Neda checked us in while I rested on a bench, head down and rocking back and forth as if I was Rainman. Four minutes to Wapner...


Managed to get only one picture as we were landing on Santa Cruz island

I don't remember much of the trip to the Galapagos. Somewhere along the way there was a stopover, then we got on a bus, then a boat. Someone told me not to rock the boat so much. Four minutes to Wapner.


Sunny Puerto Ayora

We walked around the main town in Santa Cruz, the very touristy Puerto Ayora and knocked on a few doors to find a place to sleep. We found a nice hostel at the edge of town and I collapsed into bed and passed out for the rest of the day, completely oblivious to the fact that it wasn't raining anymore.


The next morning we shared our breakfast with a Darwin finch

We really didn't have a solid plan once arriving on the island. From the reading up we've done, most of the interesting wildlife is on the surrounding islands, which is accessible either by day trips on smaller boats or a multi-day cruise on larger ships. So we dropped in on the "Last Minute Booking" stores on the main strip of Puerto Ayora and found a good deal on an 8-day cruise that visited some of the more remote islands that were too far for the day-trip boats!

But since this was a last minute booking, the cruise only starts next week, so we've got to find other stuff to amuse ourselves while we're here. Hey, it's hot and sunny, I think we can manage.


A short boat ride takes us to Las Grietas, a narrow canyon filled with clear blue water


So much more fun than riding in the rain


Las Grietas' narrow canyon walls go all the way down into the water


We also visited the Darwin Research Station

I had no idea Charles Darwin only spent six weeks on the Galapagos islands. But he collected many samples and although the finches here are named after him, it was actually the differences in the species of mockingbirds on each island here that led him to write the Origin of Species book that outlined the theory of evolution.

I was really looking forward to visiting these islands now and seeing some of the things that he saw.


Giant turtle - not too Lonesome

At the Darwin Research Centre, we learned of the story of Lonesome George, the last remaining turtle of the Pinta subspecies. He was a symbol of the conservation efforts at Galapagos to save and preserve endangered species. However their efforts in trying to mate him with other turtles failed and he died childless in 2012, the last of his kind. Sad.

Now there's a clothing store named after him. Even sadder.


These guys weren't endangered - Land iguana. Fascinating to stare at. And they stare back too!


Watching the boats come in with their catch

There's a small impromptu fish market right across the street from our hostel. Every afternoon, when the fishing boats bring their haul on shore, they gut and filet the fish right away and sell it to all the local restaurants.


Pelicans and a sea lion are regulars here, taking advantage of the situation


In the evenings, they fry up everything they have left and you can have a fresh fish dinner right at the docks!


Making sure nothing goes to waste!

One evening we got a knock at our door. The owner told us there had just been an earthquake in Chile and they were evacuating everyone in the island to higher ground because of the threat of a tsunami. Holy crap! The largest tsunami that hit the Galapagos was back in 2011, when an earthquake in Japan caused the tides to rise 2 meters above normal, causing extensive flooding all along the flat coasts of all the islands.

Thankfully the speed of telecommunications is faster than a tsunami, which travels about 600 km/h. We were about 1,000 kms away from the epicentre, which gave us well over an hour to evacuate. We took all the essentials, our documents, electronics and most importantly, Neda's Kindle. We thought it would be an odyssey involving Land Rovers, the army and long lines of traffic leading away from the coast, but instead we hiked less than a km uphill to a stadium where people were playing a game of volleyball under the floodlights.

We only saw one pickup truck loaded with furniture race up the hill. Everyone else was strolling casually to the designated point for this part of the island. It seemed like they had done this many times before.


Some people bunkered down the night

The stadium was fairly empty since there were other evacuation spots in the city and we were on the outskirts of town. People gathered inside and outside and made themselves comfortable for the next little while. The volleyball players must have felt like they were Olympic athletes with all the attention from their new-found audience!

Over the next couple of hours, everyone milled about trying to find word of the status of the people affected in Chile and whether the tsunami was developing underwater. Every once in a while a police truck would come by, blue and red flashing lights cutting through the night, and they'd give us a status update, but the best way to get information was to sit by someone with a portable radio. From there, we learned of the exact ETA of when a tsunami would hit Galapagos, as well as the magnitude of the earthquake: 8.2. Not small at all. Thankfully, it was just off the coast and the casualty rate was limited to a handful of people who died of heart attacks.

All this up-to-date information and still we would have to wait it out, wondering if an undersea surge of water was hurtling towards us or not.


Inside the stadium, trying to find ways to amuse ourselves

Time passed by slowly, but word eventually got around the stadium that no tsunami had hit the coast. It all seemed pretty anti-climactic, nothing at all like the Armageddon or disaster movies. The official alert ended 1 hour after the ETA just to be safe, however shortly after we found out, people started heading back down towards the shoreline. We shrugged our shoulders and walked back down as well. Aftershocks, schmaftershocks...


Everything is still dry down here

All the power was turned off in our hostel in anticipation of the flooding and the owners still hadn't returned yet. So we waited outside a cafe next door and used their wi-fi under the street lights to let our friends and family know that we were okay. What an eventful last couple of days!
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Old 05-23-2014, 11:13 AM   #1880
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Are you posting this Galapagos, or you back in Ecuador now?
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:01 PM   #1881
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Gene,
There is just something WRONG about eating with proctologist gloves...




....glad you are feeling better
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:40 PM   #1882
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Gene,
There is just something WRONG about eating with proctologist gloves...
Yeah, I'm not sure I get the gloves?
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Life is dangerous. Not doing what you love makes life even more dangerous...
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Old 05-23-2014, 04:58 PM   #1883
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Hot!

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Yeah, I'm not sure I get the gloves?
Some establishments provide gloves when your eating spicy or chilli chicken so you don’t get it on your hands & accidently rub it in your eyes (or on your pecker when you go to the bathroom)
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:27 PM   #1884
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Thanks!

Quite inspirational. Your adventures are not the norm, your pace is......refreshing. I love how your taking your time, not just riding through, but actually experiencing the adventure. Safe travels my friends!
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Old 05-25-2014, 09:04 AM   #1885
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Yeah, I'm not sure I get the gloves?
All over Central America and South America, they give out these plastic gloves when you order fried chicken so you don't get your hands greasy when you eat it. I think it's brilliant, however KFC had to pull all their "Finger Lickin' Good" ads down here...

"Lick the glove" just doesn't have the same appeal...

My hands do kinda get a bit hot and sweaty encased in plastic though.

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so you don’t get it on your hands & accidently rub it in your eyes (or on your pecker when you go to the bathroom)
Nothing worse than blinding the one-eyed monster!
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Old 05-25-2014, 05:32 PM   #1886
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But since this was a last minute booking, the cruise only starts next week, so we've got to find other stuff to amuse ourselves while we're here. Hey, it's hot and sunny, I think we can manage.


A short boat ride takes us to Las Grietas, a narrow canyon filled with clear blue water
Gene - I don't know why you keep trash-talking your diet - it looks to me like you guys are in great shape!
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Old 05-26-2014, 11:24 AM   #1887
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Thanks... but that's not us...
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Old 05-26-2014, 05:26 PM   #1888
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Thanks... but that's not us...

REALLY?!? OMG!





Aw, I'm sorry, man - I know, that's just mean. And I'm no... well, that guy in the pic above... either!


...
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:07 AM   #1889
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Hey guys, you picked a great way to have some much-needed sun and fun! This side trip is another aspect of your journey that makes it stand out from the general TDF run. Most everyone probably gets a case of target fixation and doesn't even think about a hop to the Galops but the way you guys are doing it...without a target (timewise or destination) just seems to give you a lot more freedom to indulge, in detail, the places you're going through. Unique and wonderful report!
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:32 PM   #1890
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Our route around the Galapagos takes us through a variety of different islands with different terrains and wildlife.


18 passengers + 6 crew on the Yolita II

From Puerto Ayora, we head back to the airport on Baltra Island, where we meet the rest of the passengers of the Yolita II, our floating home for the next 8 days. They're a mix of young and young-at-heart and they all speak English! It feels so good to be socializing again in our native tongue!


A freak nuclear waste spill on Genovesa Island resulted in some two-headed birds


The red-footed booby is rarer than its blue-footed cousin, even though it looks more commonplace

Neda loves all sorts of nature and she's really looking forward to seeing the wildlife. I'm not so much into it. I'm just on Galapagos so I can legitimately use the word "boobies" in every other sentence. There is a strict policy on Galapagos not to interfere with the wildlife, the rule is to always stay 4-feet or more from the animals. So basically I can look at boobies, but I can't touch them....

And so it begins.


Male frigate bird

As part of its mating ritual, the male frigate bird blows up a big red pouch under its beak to attract females. The bigger the pouch and the longer it can hold it, the more likely he is to attract a mate. They look like a chinless man trying to change a pillowcase. We walked through a whole field of these things, and the whole time I was humming "99 Luftballons"...


This guy got all the chicks


Baby blue-footed booby hiding out in the bush, safe from from predators
I had to thread my camera in to get a good picture. So cute!!!



Neda was so happy being around all these birds

It was pretty incredible how close we could get to the birds, they weren't afraid of people at all. There are so many visitors to the islands that they're so used to the human presence, especially when everyone keeps to the 4-foot rule.


If it wasn't for the 4-foot rule, I could have taken a picture of what this bird had for lunch


The heavy-lidded owl was at the top of the food chain, feeding on other birds


Sunset on Genovesa Island

We visited the Bahia Sullivan (Sullivan Bay) on Isabela Island. It's comprised mainly of lava that flowed out from the volcano but was cooled very quickly by the ocean so that it retained its molten shapes and forms.


Pinnacle Rock on neighbouring Bortolome Island is a famous Galapagos landmark


Like walking on the face of a planet designed by H. R. Giger (RIP)


We found ourselves part of a tour group

It felt very strange being a part of an organized tour. The pace of the 8-day schedule was relentless and we weren't used to having such regimented daily AM and PM activities. People paying for such a tour really get their money's worth! We make fun of people doing bus tours all the time, and here we are on the same kind of tour. I guess it's time to get off our high horse...


Volcanic lava frozen in the moment in came in contact with the ocean.
The black rock had a cool, metallic sheen to it.



"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came..."


Neda fell down a deep crevasse. So I took some pictures. She asked for a hand. So I clapped...


Why do all turtles look like toothless old men? "Damn kids! Get off my lawn!"

Did you know that the Spanish word for tortoise is "Galapago". That's what the islands were named after when they were first discovered.


Blue-footed booby. This picture looks like a negative.

We had come to Galapagos specifically to see the blue-footed booby, but surprisingly, I don't have many pictures of it. It's such a funny-looking bird with its cross-eyed stare, but it is Ecuador's national bird. The blue feet are such an anomaly, like seeing a tiger with pink stripes.


The Galapagos penguins are the furthest northern-dwelling pengiun in the world


They're not as majestic looking as their Emperor cousins at the south pole

We got a chance to snorkel with the penguins and they were so cute and curious about us, playfully darting in and out and all around us.


Blue-footed booby watches our dinghy tour through his home


This female turtle waited too long to lay her eggs and was caught out late in the season and died of sun exposure


Land iguana is checking out his new home


Beached coral found all over the island


A lizard scopes us out from his coral perch


This is us soaking up the heat and the sun. Totally loving it here!


"Catches thieves, just like flies...!"


We just sat and stared at these colourful crabs while they chowed down on some washed up seafood


Here there be monsters

When the first explorers landed on Galapagos, they thought these marine iguanas were monsters. Ironically, these scary-looking creatures are vegetarians, only eating seaweed and algae from the ocean floor. I tried to take an up-close video of one while snorkeling ahead of it, however as I turned around to face it, it didn't slow down or change course, but headed directly towards me. Holy crap, was that a scary sight! I quickly ducked out of its way, because, um... of the 4-foot rule, not because I'm a chicken-hearted booby....


Ever wonder what a movie audience looks like?

Neda says that she finds it so interesting how as most animals have evolved out of the water, these marine iguanas have basically evolved to be aquatic once again, finding food and sustenance in the seas. They're able to hold their breaths for long periods while eating underwater and once they're back on land, they blow the salt from the ocean waters out of their nostrils. The waves crashing on the rocky coast was constantly interrupted by the sounds of these iguanas sneezing salt into the air!


What a beautiful-looking hawk!


Would not want to be on the receiving ends of those talons


Booby tucks his blue-feet in, diving into the ocean for food

You'd think these boobys would break their necks diving in to such shallow waters at that speeds, but somehow they're able to turn their bodies right after entering the water to stop from hitting the bottom.


Our last day on board the Yolita II

This was a great way to take a little vacation from our vacation. We got to make some great new friends on the boat, as well as see some cool wildlife, but most of all, we got away from the constant rains on the mainland. So glad we came to the Galapagos!
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