Day 9 - Sun May 27, 2007 – Quito to Galapagos Islands – Bob: 138, Kathy: 142

Today, we got up early, showered and took a taxi to the airport. We found the AeroGal ticket counter #2 as we had been advised earlier in the trip. Our flight was uneventful.

We were searched three different times when we arrived, then we were given a green label that said “Flamingo.” Other people on the plane were given labels from our sister ships: the Letty and Eric.

I guess this is a good time to talk about our ship. There are three identical ships: Flamingo, Letty and Eric. Each holds twenty passengers and about ten crew: two naturalists, a waiter/bartender, a cleaning woman, an electrician, a boat technician/repairman, a captain, a captain's apprentice, a skiff driver and one or more cooks.

We picked this tour company because it seemed like an ideal size: some ships could hold one hundred people, but that seemed excessive. Other ships could hold twelve passengers, but we were afraid that they would be too small and rocky on the ocean. I was afraid of getting sea sick. Our ship is a good compromise between a small group and a large one.

Anyway, they put us on a bus that left us off at a boat landing. There was an unusual welcoming committee: some Sea Lions had parked themselves on the benches.

Next, they shuffled us onto an inflatable boat called a Zodiac, Skiff, whatever and drove us out to our ship, the Flamingo.

Our first order of business was to have a meeting so that we all were on the same page regarding the trip and how things would work. For example, they told us about when to expect to be woken up, when to eat breakfast, what we would see the next day, how far to stay away from the animals and such.

After our meeting, nothing happened. We sat around and watched the birds circle the harbor. All the other boats left the harbor and we were still anchored. Eventually we became annoyed. We were supposed to see our first site, but for some reason, they weren't moving. Finally we asked why.

Unfortunately, one of the naturalists was missing. We waited for a long time and Kathy was very unhappy. Eventually, he did show up and our day of sightseeing began. He claimed that his luggage hadn't been on the plane and he was trying to track it down for the boat trip. Bummer for him!

We have two naturalists: Orlando and Paul (pronounced Pa-ool). Orlando has been a guide for many years. Paul is young, vibrant and knowledgeable. Both speak excellent English.

With Paul aboard, the Flamingo headed out to sea and we were on our way. After we parked in a bay, everyone shuffled back onto the Zodiac boats that took us to a small island

with lots of sea lions. We spent a long time just taking photos of those sea lions. They're especially cute when they're sleeping, which is what they do on shore after a long hard day of fishing.

It's amazing how close you can get to the sea lions. There's a couple from California on our boat and they said the sea lions there are very aggressive and you can't get close to them.

Of course, we also saw other forms of life: sally light foot crabs,

lava lizards,

and lots of birds.

For our second event, we went snorkeling in deep water. We were still unhappy that we had gotten a late start, so we didn't want to miss this event too. They didn't have a wet suit big enough to fit Kathy, but I found a wet suit that fit me perfectly.

Kathy and I have been snorkeling twice before: Once in Hawaii and once in Cancun. Both times was shallow water. This was deep water, so we were paranoid. We decided to play it cautious. Not only did we wimp out and wear life jackets, we also hung onto the side of the boat.

We didn't see many big fish. We did see a big eel and a starfish. It was fun, but as before, I was very uncomfortable breathing through my mouth. It just feels wrong to me.