Galapagos Islands 2015 Vacation (INCA Tours)

Day 5

May 10, 2015

Our day in (almost) painful detail

6:00am We set our alarm for 5:45 to make sure that we woke on or before the wake up call.  We are not yet to Floreana and Richard was letting everyone sleep in since we are not anchored.  I guess we should just wait for the announcement. I didn’t sleep well.  Nothing about the accommodations caused my restless night.  Just me feeling like a kid before a very big day.  I have been wanting to do this trip since about 13 years old and I just want to see it all. I didn’t hear or feel the anchor, but I did feel engines start and heard the pitch change as we got underway.  The ship did not feel like it was pitching or rolling much. While wandering around the ship waiting for breakfast, I ran into Richard and Craig and both told me to head for the bow as there were dolphins riding our bow wave. 7:00am Barbara is soaking us both down with sunscreen in preps for our first hike in the Galapagos Islands.  Even though I made motion-sick-prone Barbara come out to the middle of the ocean for her first cruise she is still being very nice to me. I am taking Barbara’s and my water shoes to the fantail to hose them off well before they touch land on any of the islands. The Reina Silvia (sister ship to Integrity – owned by same person) is anchored close to us and is also on an INCA tour following the same route we are. 7:23am We are in the panga and motoring towards our first wet landing and our first official hike of our tour.  We are at Punta Cormorant. 7:35am We got a quick look at some Galapagos Flamingos standing in shallow water as we walk to another beach. 7:37am On shore and Richard is explaining saltbush to us.  We are also seeing Black Mangrove Trees.  Richard points out feral cat prints in the sand. 7:50am We are on a beach collecting peridot (August birthstone, pale green).  Barbara’s hand with 3 peridots and Allison’s hand with more.  After we put the stones back where we found them we change shoes for a hike inland. 8:03am Photos of a Wandering Tattler. 8:10am Scalacia plant and a Yellow Warbler. 8:20am Galapagos Flamingos 8:33am Palo Santo Tree and a Tree Finch. 8:40am Galapagos Flycatcher. 9:00am At Stingray Beach (aka Flour) and a Galapagos Sea Lion sleeping tucked into the rocks. 9:30am Galapagos Flamingo, this time flying. 9:55am Back on Integrity and we have about 25 minutes before our first snorkel.  I am in our room trying to cool off a little because I don’t know if I can get the wetsuit on my sweaty body. 11:45am We are just back from snorkeling.  We snorkeled around Champion Island next to Floreana.  Barbara and I had a very difficult time due to our small travel fins.  Once we got a little separated from the group we just couldn’t catch back up. Note: Photos and videos taken by Richard Polatty our tour director, guide and naturalist, used with permission.  Richard only requested that he be given proper credit for the material and his email be listed: 12:25pm We just landed on the beach in Post Office Bay.  We are walking inland to find the famous Post Office Barrel. In 1793 the Post Office barrel was set up by whalers.  Whalers heading out could put mail in the barrel and those heading home would stop at the barrel, look for letters near their homeport and then hand-deliver them once they were back. The Post Office barrel has been in continuous use from that day to today. When we got to the barrel we put a few post cards in and then everyone looked for mail near home.  Barbara and I only found one post card near enough to think about delivering. 1:40pm Just finished lunch.  A nice salad, main dish of shrimp in garlic with rice and mixed vegetable.  For dessert we had home made gelato.  Now it is siesta time until 3pm.  I am using the down time to try and keep up with uploading my photos from the camera cards to an external hard drive. 2:55pm We are on the fantail of the Integrity waiting for our panga ride back to Floreana.  I believe there are about 25 residents on the island. 3:15pm We are back on Floreana Island  at the village of Puerto Velazco Ibarra walking into “town”.  We will be riding in a homemade bus (small truck with back removed and seats added) to the top of the island. 3:27pm Lufa Astori.  While riding up the mountain, Richard would have the driver stop and turn off the truck.  Richard would then get out of the truck (he was riding in the cab with the driver) and show us something of interest.  A note of interest:  If you go to the Galapagos Islands and get a ride to the top of Floreana in a homemade bus, do not sit in the back of the bus.  There were a couple of bumps in the road that actually caused us to be airborne.  We thought the view would be better from the back but it was terrible for our backs and kidneys. 3:30pm Cemetery.  Water tank donated by the Japanese.  Collects water from the highlands and runs in PVC pipes to the village. 3:35pm Galapagos Cotton.  Short fibers so not real good in textiles.  Many birds use the cotton for nest building and there is consideration being given to putting out cotton balls soaked in insecticide to help kill the bot fly that is killing off the Vermillion Flycatcher.  Flower in the mallow family. While the truck is driving, Craig explains the term “taking the piss”.  They seem like a very good natured group of people and they spent much time teasing each other, poking fun at themselves and just plain having a good time. 3:45pm We are high enough on the mountain for the air to be cooler and wetter and where Mistletoe can grow on a Scalesia tree. 3:48pm Kalanchoe (air leaf, mother-of-millions).  Also lantana.  Green apple looking fruit is introduced Passion Fruit. 3:57pm Castor oil plant.  Bug:  Australian Spotless Ladybird (ladybug), Richard explains that research was done to show that the Australian Spotless Ladybird only eats the invasive insect the Cottony Cushion Scale Insect, and thousands have been imported and released. 4:10pm Guava 4:13pm Bromeliads on tree and some cattle roaming free. 4:20pm Floreana Island was settled around 1930 by a few Europeans with a desire to get away from it all or to bring it all to the island (build the first resort and attract the wealthy).  There was hate and love along with a few mysterious disappearances.  There is a book and a movie about the strange goings-on of Floreana: “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden”.  We are visiting the sites of the early settlers. The bus/truck parks and we follow trails from here.  The first encounter is a large area surrounded by a thick stone wall.  Some Galapagos Tortoises live in the enclosure.  There is no record of where the Tortoises were taken from so they can’t be released back into the wild or used for breeding. 4:45pm We are at the source of the only fresh water on Floreana.  The Original settlers depended on this water for survival. Richard tried to coax a Galapagos Flycatcher to land on a stick he was holding up.  No luck. 4:50pm Cave area.  Some of the first settlers to the island lived in these caves.  The caves provided shelter and fresh water was nearby. Photo of the bus/truck we rode up the mountain and back in. 5:45pm We are down from the mountain.  My first, and only, chance to pet a real live Galapagos Tortoise.  The Tortoise lives behind a store/home.  Again, so old and captive for so long, no one knows where he came from.  He was asleep when we got there but Richard gently woke it up.  After many years and many visits, the Tortoise recognizes Richard.  We were allowed to pet it because it is a pet and not a wild Tortoise.  He even seemed to crave the attention.  He is a very old male.  Old enough that they can’t really guess his age.  It is in the back yard of a descendant of one of the original inhabitants of Floreana Island. After a quick stop at the store of the settler’s descendant, we walked Black Beach back to the panga, enjoying a very pretty sunset on the way. 7:00pm Back on board the Integrity. We got a chance to meet the crew.  I got a nice group photo.  I had asked Richard to write down the name and job of each of the crew members so I could get it right here.  The names are left to right: Seated/kneeling: Barbara, John, Jenny, Julian, Allison, Alexis (Sailor), Vilente (Engineer), Craig Standing: Enrique (Chef), Ricardo (Barman), Manuel (Motorman), Josef (Sous-Chef), Ivan (Sailor), Eusebio (Helmsman), Angel (Captain), Manuel (Barman) & Richard (Naturalist, Guide, master of toys) I would like to take this time to thank the crew.  Every crew member must have done their jobs perfectly because from our point of view everything happened like clockwork, on time and better than we expected.  We were always where we were supposed to be with no delays.  The meals were delicious and went from “We are making xxxxxxx for dinner, is that alright with everybody” to “What do you want to eat, tell us and we will make it”.  Took us a couple of days to figure this out, but every time we left the ship someone would check out our room, replace any used towels and do anything else that needed doing.  I seriously doubt anyone can buy any better service than what we had the entire week.  Thank you, every crew member, for helping make this vacation such a special time. Then we headed topside for a BBQ.  The whole experience was very nice.
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