Roger picked us up promptly at 9:30 a.m. and we headed back into the highlands for our tour. First thing is first, tortoises. We head to a sanctuary where the Tortoises roam, and where the Galapagos scientists are helping to raise babies. We get up close and personal with 80 year old tortoises chomping their breakfast, and cavorting in mud puddles. Giant Tortougas do not have any predators, but their babies do. Birds, rats, cats, and other animals inadvertently introduced to the Galapagos Islands by shipping eat Tortoise eggs and babies. It got so bad that these animals almost wiped out Giant Tortoises completely. Luckily, humans have figured out how to incubate the tortoises for now, and these tiny baby tortoises are in captivity trying to grow big and strong enough to be let loose. I don’t know why, but I expected them to be bigger babies. It takes years for them to grow large, and they keep growing until they are about 50 years old! I guess this makes sense with a lifespan of 300 years.
1 and 2 Years
Next, we head to an organic farm for lunch. This place is an organic farmer’s paradise. The scenery from the restaurant is beautiful. We sit at our table, and place our order. Then, Roger takes us on a tour of the grounds. Every kind of fruit we could possibly imagine (and many we have never heard of) are grown here in a mixture of trees, brambles and crops. Coffee, avocados, mandarine oranges, papaya, guava, passion fruit, pineapples, yucca, banana, plantains, persimmon, blackberries, a strange thing that looks like a cherry but tastes like a sweet kidney bean, a green citrus fruit that looks like a round lime and tastes like a less sweet orange, peppers (muy picante!), tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers….the list is very long. We walk among the chickens and fruit, surveying the view and sampling the product. Everything is beautiful, tasty, and grown entirely organically. For lunch, we enjoy the fish of the day, rice, a papaya and passionfruit smoothie, and a cup of organic coffee grown, roasted and made on site.
The little bush with the pink beans is a coffee plant!
After the farm, we head to Lobiera Beach. This beach is supposed to be one of the most beautiful on San Cristobal Island. It offers a hike out to a point that over looks a bay with sea turtles, red footed boobies, and red billed sea birds. We also heard rumor that this is a great place to see Iguanas. Previously, we had met some kind tourists who gave us a run down of everything they had seen. They described the large Iguanas as voracious dinosaurs that would chase you down if you were not careful. I felt some trepidation about this, but I do not want to miss out. So, I am on a hunt for Iguanas today.
I didn't have to go far.
As we arrived at the beach, I spot a large Iguana in the sand next to a couple sea lions. We are excited to see him, but we give him a wide berth. For scale, here he is:
We see a big black frigate bird close enough to see his red pouch. These birds puff up their big red pouches in a display of manliness in order to convince female birds to mate with them. This guy is currently deflated, but he is neat to see up close anyway.
We begin the hike out to the point, and soon realize we are not alone. We are not alone at all. Big, black Iguanas lounge on the large black lava rocks. They saunter down the path, they look out over the ocean and watch the sea, and they snuggle together in packs, arms draped around each other.
Prehistoric dragon-like creatures are everywhere! And if you are not careful, you can step on them. They blend in so perfectly with the landscape you cannot see them at all. Our hike is several miles, mostly across craggy lava rocks rather than any well worn foot path. How am I going to run if one of these guys takes chase?
“I won’t chase you, if you don’t chase me!” I proclaim as I walk along, especially in areas where there are many lava rocks, but no Iguanas in apparent sight. I know they are there, I am just not seeing them. “I won’t chase you, if you don’t chase me!”
As we walk along, every now and then I have to stop my lead foot mid air to avoid stepping on a rock that suddenly shape-changes into an Iguana. The Iguana looks up at me, then lays his chin back on his hand as though nothing ever happened. I walk around him, and carry on. If they feel really threatened, they hiss a little. “I won’t chase you, if you don’t chase me!” I repeat. If forced to move, they sidle sideways one or two inches, making way for us to clear through.
Pretty soon, I walk right past an Iguana, not realizing he was there. He did…nothing. Our friends may have exaggerated the claim they were chased. These guys don’t seem prone to chase.
Reaching the top of the point, we are treated with more amazing views, a bird show, and sea turtles floating in the water below. This place is unreal.
For our last dinner in town, we enjoyed sushi - Galapagos style. i.e. plantains are incorporated into everything here. In addition, we ordered a slushy and fruity adult beverage - a passionfruit margarita. Because if there is anywhere in the world that the fruit does not ruin a perfectly good adult beverage, it is here.