Santa Cruz – Galapagos 

An even sadder day. I leave today. 
But not one to miss an opportunity to make the most of my time before a 9.30am taxi to the airport. 
It’s 6am. And I’m going to the beach. Tortuga Bay. 
The entrance to the walkway was just a few blocks from where I was staying. You have to sign in at the entrance, then it’s a 2.5km paved walk through a cactus forest. 
It was a nice walk. Lots of finches chirping and jumping around. And so many tall cactus trees. This particular species can grow up to 15m tall and the tallest ones are found on this island. 
The walk was hilly and the only other people I saw were a couple of local runners. 

The beach was pretty – white sand, scattered black volcanic rocks and blue waters – very similar to many other beaches around! I found a few birds and crabs, but nothing else. 
The beach is 1km long and I didn’t have time to walk to the far end. Which is a shame, as that’s where I think the iguanas hang out. I was definitely rushing as I did not have time – it would have been a lot better to spend a bit more time here walking to the end to the bay area. Next time….!
After I made it back to town around 8am, I went to the morning fish market. Here, fishermen bring their catch in and it is prepared on tiled benches. Completely surrounded by pelicans and sea lions. They had many lobster and huge tuna. I didn’t see any tuna in the water. All being fished out….sad. 
The pelicans were shaking with excitement. All flapping around on the floor and sometimes trying to get up onto the bench. The fishmongers were cutting the fish into pieces, throwing the heads and fins to the pelicans. They were good catchers – always one had caught the piece before it hit the floor. And they were fighting over it, if one pelican got the tail in its beak, another pelican would have its beak in their mouth. One pelican had a ripped mouth sack, it looked sore and probably couldn’t eat like that. Hopefully the rangers look after it. 
The sea lions were also joining in. Sitting like dogs, underneath the person cutting the fish. Waiting for the skin. One of the woman moved away from her station briefly and the sea lion took his chance to leap up onto his back fins and try to grab some fish. He was unsuccessful and shooed down. 
All the animals were surprisingly well behaved. Well trained! 

On the eastern side of town is the Charles Darwin Research centre. There are a few visitor centres here and some exhibitions. I wandered around a bit of it. They have a tortoise breeding centre. Each island has a different species and they have all of them here and all different ages. They had some small 2017 ones and lots of 2016 ones. So cute! 
And it is possible to get your passport stamped here with a Galapagos stamp, as you don’t get one when you land. 

I made it back to the hotel at 9am. 3 hours of power walking around. I had covered 10km…! Definitely don’t recommend going around that fast, I had no time to stop and enjoy. 
A quick breakfast of papaya and passion fruit, shower, and ready to leave. The girl I had been sharing a cabin with for the past week came by to say goodbye. So sad! 
Santa Cruz wasn’t my favourite island. It is very touristy. When I was leaving each place this morning, huge tour groups were arriving. There aren’t as many animals as in San Cristobal – which is so much nicer. But despite being busy, it was still magical. 
And time for the airport. 
Getting to the airport is a journey of several parts. I caught a taxi for the 45 minute drive north back to Itabaca Channel (spent a lot of time here the past few days..!), which was $25. There was a $2 bus option, but they seemed to only go early in the morning. 

Then a $2 ferry across the channel to Baltra island. (Or free in my case… the boat I spent the last week on was parked in the channel – on Tuesday mornings the dives are at the side of Santa Cruz Island. And the panga driver from the boat came to get me. How cute!). 
Then a free bus for the 15 minute drive across the desert landscape of Baltra island. Scattered cactus around. There used to be tortoises on this island, but the numbers plummeted. The centre on Santa Cruz has some Baltra tortoises in their breeding centre and apparently will start to reintroduce them soon.  
I arrived about 10.45am and the check in desk hadn’t even opened yet! 
The airport was full of shops. Prices being similar to the town, so bought some last minute bits and pieces. Then at 12pm and the final walk across the beautiful landscape. Onto the plane. 
Before I came, I was expecting this to be the best trip I’ve ever done. And it has exceeded all expectations. This trip was supposed to be a one time thing. It’s expensive. But it’s incredible and I’m planning my return already….
Bye wonderland. Thanks for the best two weeks ever. 


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