Day 12 - Wed May 30, 2007 – Santiago, Bartoleme Islands – Bob: 142, Kathy: 261

I noticed something strange. Somehow, literally overnight, it became nearly impossible for me to focus my eyes for short distances. In other words, I couldn't focus on my hands unless I moved them at least two feet away. I told Kathy about it and after checking, she said that she had the same problem. Focusing up close was a struggle, or even impossible. I attributed the problem to the scopolomine sea-sickness patches we started wearing. That's the only side-effect we've noticed with the drug. Other than that I'm susceptible to sea-sickness and they work great.

Today, we went to Santiago island.

Again, we saw lots of scenery and lots of animals.

As usual our naturalist guide, Paul, gave us little lectures about the Galapagos. He explained about how early explorers brought goats and other animals that devastated the native animal populations. There's an extensive program to get rid of the goats one island at a time.

We walked a long time. As with the other islands, the stones here were volcanic. On the beach, they were strange looking, with lots of holes.

The most special thing was that we saw a mother sea lion interacting with her new-born baby. Although we didn't watch the actual birth, it was obviously new-born because the mother's fur was stained with blood, there was a red patch in the sand where she dropped the placenta, and the baby still had its umbilical cord attached. I think we took one hundred pictures of just that baby sea lion! It was so cute.

There was a land bridge across an ocean inlet where we found another sea turtle swimming. We stopped and took some photos, including a group photo.

After our walk, we went snorkeling again. It wasn't as good as yesterday's snorkeling.

In the afternoon, we visited Bartoleme Island (a relatively small island)

and we snorkeled again, for the second time today. I'm much more comfortable snorkeling now.

Later, we took the Zodiac to a landing point and disembarked.

The landscape looked just like the face of the planet Mars.

It was dry and barren, with lots of dark brown sand, intermixed with occasional volcanic rocks that were very light.

There were no footprints because tourists were kept on a wooden walkway.

Along the way, we saw a small lava tube: a circular hole where the lava ran down from the volcano. It was about a foot and a half (half-meter) in diameter.

At the top of the volcano was a lighthouse. From the boat, it looked like a tiny dot at the top of a huge mountain.

We climbed over 240 steps to get to the top. It was a very long way up.

Halfway up I encountered a group of tourists coming back down. Out of breath, I jokingly asked, “Which way is the cemetery?” They laughed.

At the top, the scenery was beautiful and we took lots of photos of the lighthouse, the surrounding scenery and another form of wildlife we hadn't seen yet: a snake.

Unfortunately, the snake was mostly hidden in the rocks, so our photo wasn't very good.