Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Galapagos Part 1: Penguins & Lava Rocks

Axel, my mom, and I had the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands this summer. 
It was the trip of a lifetime!

Crabs covered the rocky shores.

These islands were formed by volcanos. 

You can see the patterns of lava formation in the obsidian stone.


Family photo on the barren Santiago island. 

The only thing that can survive these harsh conditions is the lava lizard.

We saw penguins on the shore in front of Pinnacle Rock.

Later that day we snorkeled with some penguins.  
They swim so fast, they look like little bullets. We even saw one of them catch a fish!

Later when we went for a hike, a sea lion was blocking the steps of our dock

(sea lion sneeze video)
She was not bothered to move at all when we walked right next to her.  

the famous view of Pinnacle Rock from the top of Bartolome

Back to the boat for sunset

Galapagos Part 2: Turtles

Galapagos Islands is named after the Spanish word "saddle" which describes the shape of the tortoise's shell. 

Some of these guys were HUGE, over 500 pounds and living over 100 years. 

The tortoises are endangered so they have a nursery to repopulate them

The Galapagos cactus and tortoise both adapted to each other, demonstrating Darwin's adaptation of species.  The cacti began growing their leaves higher, underneath a tree-like "trunk" so the turtles can't reach them.  Meanwhile the turtles begin developing a curl on the top of their shells to allow for their necks to reach higher up to the cacti plants. It's a race for evolution! 

Visiting a "lava tunnel" cave made entirely by natural forces

Later in the city we watched the local kids at the skate park.  Axel got inspired to brush up on his skateboarding skills. 

Grandma messing with Axel's legs to tease him!  This afternoon snorkel allowed us to see sea turtles and sharks, among many other beautiful fish.  My favorite part was watching the sea turtle slowly poke its head above the water then return back to its relaxed mellow way of swimming.  Its so beautiful to follow  a sea turtle swimming, those creatures are so chill! 


Galapagos Part 3: Beaches, Rainbows & Stingrays

The next morning started out with a rainbow! 

We went to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever encountered. 

Axel played in the sand with the other kid in our group - we were so lucky that out of only 15 passengers on our cruise ship there was another 15 year old boy!

the crab walk is so cute! 

 As I waded in the water, the sting rays swam around my feet, such a beautiful experience!

This island had an old fashioned post office where they use to leave mail that other travelers would check the address to see if it was in the direction they were heading.  If it was, they would take it and hand deliver it to the recipients.  You can still send mail with this system today, so here we are sorting through the postcards to see if we can deliver any  postcards to San Diego - and we found one! 

a whale carcass

The crew played soccer during our free time at the beach

Axel spotted a sea lion bathing on the shore 

Another sea lion was laying on the steps of our dock, 
so we had to go around her. She barely even looked up.

The dining room of our EcoGalaxy cruise ship

Nearly every meal had freshly caught white fish and some version of plantains... 
Here plantains are mashed up into a huge "meatball"

Grandma & Axel bonding time

Another amazing sunset

She's always the bird watcher!

Galapagos Part 4: Babies, Boobies, & Sea Lions

A marine iguana lounging on the shore of Espanola Island.  These guys were so cool because after swimming in the ocean, they sneeze out salt water. The salty water shoots out of their nostrils and lands on their foreheads, giving them a white spot on their nose. 

Iguanas were EVERYWHERE on this island.   
They would lay all over each other, spooning for warmth in the morning.  

We were so lucky to encounter a newborn sea lion that was only one day old! It still had the umbilical cord and the placenta was nearby.  Totally adorable!! 

We were SO CLOSE!  The baby walked across our path.  

The famous Blue Footed Booby.  This color is fantastic!

The male lifts up his feet to "dance" for the female in a courting ritual.  If she likes him, she mirrors his movements and it's a match! 

We witnessed the moment of hatching of a baby Albatross bird.  Such a beautiful experience!  Fun fact: parents mate for life! 

More babies!  This is a baby Blue Footed Booby

The animals on Galapagos are NOT AFRAID of humans, because we are neither predators nor a source of food.  See how close the birds are to our rocky path, and they didn't even move away when we walked right next to them.  It makes it so special to be this close to wild animals.

An ocean-made geyser is formed when the tide fills up the rocky channels, spitting water up 30-40 feet and then creating a little rainbow.  

My mom and our guide walking on the beach while sea lions are sunbathing nearby

On the way back to the boat on the last day, the crew dressed like pirates and threw a little party for us.  We celebrated our last night on the boat with "canelazo" (citrus, sugar cane alcohol, cinnamin, & cloves served warm).

Octopus for dinner on the last night - what a special treat!

Galapagos Part 5: The Equator, Sea Lions in the City, and Quito

The final day we flew out of San Cristobal, a town that has a larger population of sea lions than people. 

The sea lions literally took over the town. 

Back on the mainland, we explored the town of Quito, which is a beautiful urban city surrounded by mountains

We also went to the equator line and got to put one foot in each hemisphere

Walking the equator line

Exploiting the equator's gravitational force, Axel successfully balanced an egg on the head of a nail