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
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.
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.
- 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