Santa Cruz

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Gordon’s Rock

 This dive sucked.  We swam around from one end of the circular site to the other, mostly against the current, and didn’t see much of anything interesting.  A few rays, a few fish, a few comb jellies and a lot of tired divers.  I didn’t bother taking either the still or the video camera, and was glad, as there was nothing to shoot.  Because I had no camera, I really wasn’t using much in the way of gas, which upset my dive buddy when she realized I actually had more air than she did.  Consequently, she gave me her "special" sign to call the dive (the raised middle finger), which got me laughing, and swallowing water once again. 

 When we were in Puerto Ayora later that day, and realized the day boats go to Gordon’s Rock almost every day, I felt sorry for the land-based divers.  The northern sites are SO much better than Gordon’s Rock.  I even thought the check out dive was better than Gordon’s Rock.  Oh well, luck of the draw I guess.

 Santa Cruz

 We anchored in Academy Bay, off Puerto Ayora for our last night on the boat.  After lunch, our Naturalist guide took us ashore for a quick tour of the Darwin Research Center, which, while mildly interesting, paled in comparison to what we’d already seen.  I’m just not a big fan of seeing the animals captive in small pens.  On the other hand, the center is doing good, and very necessary work.  We were then left in town for the afternoon for that dreaded “tourist shopping”, yuck!

 We all had dinner at a restaurant in town that was recommended to us by the crew.  The food was pretty good, but we had become so spoiled by the outstanding food on the boat, that it didn’t quite measure up.  The visit to town was fun, but it was sad to leave, knowing our vacation in this unique paradise was essentially over.  Wanh!

The Bottom Line

 The bottom line is, would I go back again?  To quote Shannon’s response to Jon’s proposal, “Hell Yeah”, I can’t wait.  The only things I would do different would be to negotiate with the boat to schedule more days at Wolf and Darwin islands, and to skip Bartoleme and Godon’s Rocks.  We definitely plan on another Aggressor Fleet live-aboard, and when we come back to the Galapagos (which will be soon), we're likely to request the same crew, as they were outstanding.  Our divemasters, tender drivers, cooks, etc., worked their butts off to keep us fat, safe, healthy and happy.  We were spoiled rotten the whole week, and loved every minute of it.



 The Galapagos Islands were accidentally discovered in 1535 when Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama, drifted off course en route to Peru from Panama. The islands were named in 1874 by Abraham Ortelier after the Spanish word for saddle or ‘galapaga’, describing the shell of the  Giant Tortoises found throughout the islands.  The islands are forever associated with Charles Darwin’s brief visit aboard the Beagle in October of 1835.  His observations of the divergence of unique species from island to island became the foundation for his book, “On the Origin of Species” (1859), which shook up the scientific world and forever changed the world’s understanding of natural selection and evolution in biology.  There are 13 major islands, 6 small islands and scores of islets. Five of the islands are now inhabited, with a population of about 20,000. Annual tourism is estimated to exceed 90,000 people.

  Travel Lunacy

 We used up a bunch of really old American Airlines mileage to fly down to Guyaquil,  first class even.  The only good thing I can say about American Airlines is that we got what we paid for.  All three flights on the way down, and all three flights on the way back had major problems while on the ground.  Miami seems like an especially problematic airport for American, neither flight out seemed to be able to figure out how to get power to plane (no lights or air conditioning, pilots kept having to reprogram the flight computers, passengers loaded then unloaded off the planes ).  We also spent 2 hours (128 minutes, I timed it) waiting for our bags to arrive between immigration and customs, so we could go through customs and give the bags back to the airlines.  Even though I had planned a 3 hour lay-over in Miami, and we arrived at the plane with time to spare, our luggage was never loaded on the plane, so arrived at our house at 03:00 on the 4th of July (do they actually expect people to answer the door at 3 AM?).  The sad thing is that the rest of our group flew together on Continental, and had an even worse experience, arriving late in Houston, they all missed their connecting flight home and had to overnight in Houston, before heading home to Seattle on a variety of flights that made carpooling home difficult.

The Aerogal flight from Guyaquil to Baltra had no assigned seating, and even though they stopped in San Cristobal first, and Baltra second, they loaded the San Cristobal passengers on first (mostly local) and the Baltra passengers last (mostly tourist), which made deplaning very difficult for the San Cristobal passengers as they were in the back of the plane.  The flight back actually had assigned seats, and they didn't even blink an eye at our extra luggage, but would not allow us to check in as a group (as we had in Guyaquil).

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