Next, Mariana outlines the unique speed boat ride between Isabela and Santa Cruz:
Saying goodbye to Isabela Island was really tough, but now we were headed to Santa Cruz, another beautiful island of the Galapagos. We arrived at the dock and boarded the water taxi as usual. About 11 people per taxi, and 22 in both speedboats. I was not very excited to get on the boat. Last time I sat in the inside, which had me feeling a little sick. This time, I made sure to sit in the back in the outside area of the boat. Everyone put on sunscreen and had their life jackets on. We were able to keep anything we wanted during the ride. I chose to keep my camera and water bottle. What I also should have kept was a hat since it was really windy and messed up my hair. As the boat started to move, I felt pretty good and the water was so beautiful. The waves occurring by the motor made a cool effect in the water; it was really pretty. The sky was so blue which meant the water was too, and the clouds looked perfect; I took many pictures. We were side by side to another island, which I later found out was Santa Fe Island. About an hour after we passed it, I could still see it's little silhouette on the horizon. I had never experienced the ocean like this and I'm really glad I did. I did not want the boat ride to end, looking at the water was just so pretty. The sea was calm so I wanted to fall asleep, but I promised myself I would stay awake the entire time - mostly because I wanted to take in the whole experience, but also because I didn't want to fall asleep on someone's shoulder, kind of embarrassing. In the end, it was totally worth it, I would definitely go on a boat again in the future, an experience I'll never forget. Even thought I did not want the boat ride to end, we made it to Santa Cruz Island. What awaited us were more unforgettable adventures.
After arriving back in Santa Cruz, we headed to the Charles Darwin Research Center. Devon explains this experience:
Today we went to the Charles Darwin Center. As it turns out, historically there were 14 different species across the Galapagos and nowadays, due to over-hunting and human expansion in the islands, there are only 11 species left. At the Center, they are helping repopulate 4 of these species. At the Center, we learned about Super Diego, a relatively young tortoise (only about 80 years old!) from Espanola Island. We learned that he is being used to help repopulate his species, and currently has around 800 kids. We also learned about Lonesome George. The day he died his caretaker quit. The reason why they called him Lonesome George is because he had a favorite rock and would never mate with a female. They have him in a cold room to contain his shape. Overall, I think it was a great experience and we all learned a lot.
Kim illustrates the long, but worthwhile trek to Tortuga Bay:
The hike was a very strenuous and it took about more than an hour to get to Tortuga Bay. I wore sandals which actually helped a lot since my feet were so sore in my tennis shoes. What made the hike so difficult is that there were many uphill paths, but we conquered it! Even though it was a very difficult hike, we saw some beautiful scenery - some of Darwin's famous finches as well as some smaller lizards that would occasionally cross our path. After hiking for about an hour, I saw the ocean. The view was so breathtaking that it felt like I was seeing the ocean for the first time.
Below, Josie explains how much the group enjoyed the beach at Tortuga Bay after the strenuous hike:
Today the Galapagroup was presented with yet another opportunity to go swimming. After a two mile hike down a long trail we were gifted with a beautiful ocean view, but the journey doesn't end there. Upon arriving to the beach we had to walk another 15 minutes to an area that was more calm. After the 15 minute scenic walk along the ocean we arrived to Tortuga Bay. It was stunning. The water was so calm and the color of the it was breath taking. After applying a lot of sunscreen, everyone was ready to jump into the water. Everyone was smiling and having a blast. Some were building sand castles and burying each other in sand, while others were playing water volleyball or even just floating in the water relaxing. As everyone was getting ready to go, someone pointed out what seemed to be either a manta ray or a sting ray. To me that was a memorable experience because I've never seen a manta or sting ray that wasn't in captivity. My time at Tortuga Bay in certainly a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Lastly, Seth and Shalen help wrap up our day, which we spent along the pier and town center:
When we were in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal we went to local tourist shops. Each one was filled with plenty of shirts and hats, along with maps, figurines, jewelry, keychains, and more. When shopping for myself, I got a shirt that says "I like boobies" (FYI: this is a bird) along with a map and a small figurine of an iguana; I have gotten plenty of things for my family to enjoy from the trip as well. Can't wait to go shopping in Quito to see what else I get- and struggle to fit it in my luggage or backpack.
After dinner we had some time before we had to be back at the hotel on Santa Cruz. So, two groups were made. One group had time to walk around the pier and shop some more and the other had the opportunity to get ice cream. I was in the ice cream group. First, we actually spent some time at the pier to look for sharks and other ocean life near the docks. We saw a several animals like big schools of fish, sea lions, white and black tip sharks, a sea turtle, and sting rays. Many pictures later, we headed out for ice cream. On the way there there wasn't much to see. The ice cream parlor was actually very pretty with and open air counter for patrons to sit facing the street. We ordered and sat down to chat. After a few more laughs we began heading back to the hotel. On our way back there was an art shop. The artist actually owned the shop. So three others in the group including me went in to shop for a bit before heading back and then to bed for the night.
View more photos from Day 5 HERE!