Thursday, April 15, 2010
Leaving for the Marquesas
We’re scheduled to leave today at 2:00 pm for the Marquesas with four other sailboats: A Capella, Sidewinder, Freedom and Victoria. We’ll have an informal radio net to check in with each other twice a day and help out if needed. It’ll be interesting to see how many days it’ll take us to sail 3000 miles to Fatu Hiva, the first island in the Marquesas. If the wind is right, I predict that we will be at sea for at least 20 days.
Thanks to Silvio, a Galapagueran farmer, Kamaya is stocked with all sorts of interesting local food, including guaba de vejuco a Dr. Seuss green fruit about two- to- three feet long which when opened has black seeds coated with a white cotton candy substance. Maya and Kai like using the guaba to play swords, but others eat the sweet white part.
When we toured Silvio’s farm in the highlands in Isla Isabela earlier this week, we picked our food straight from the source. The various plants and trees were diverse such that one area had coffee, bananas and papayas growing next to each other. We filled our bags with limes, cantaloupes, watermelon, papayas, basil, squash, eggplant and even freshly roasted coffee. Silvio cut down an entire banana tree so that we could have one huge stalk of bananas.
It is hard to say good-bye to the Galapagos which has been our home for almost two months. Our autographo/ permit allowed us to anchor at three different islands: first San Cristobal, then Santa Cruz and now Isla Isabela. Each island has its own charm and challenges. On San Cristobal, the capital, we laughed at the hundreds of sea lions that have taken over the town. It was here where ripples of the Chilean tsunami hit and we spent a memorable morning at Leon Dormido, swimming with sea turtles, sharks, and spotted eagle rays.
Santa Cruz Island is coping with a rapidly increasing population, which has swelled to 16,000 inhabitants. The main town of Puerto Ayora, is not only home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, and Lonesome George, the last tortoise of his kind, but also to artists, restaurants, tour shops and more. We visited twice. The first time was in early March, but we left immediately because the anchorage was horribly rolly and packed with boats.
Last week, we returned to Santa Cruz to provision and go on a decadent three day cruise to the less inhabited islands, like Espanola, South Plazas, Santa Fe, and Floreana. It was on this cruise that we were able to watch the Waved Albatross land and take off from the cliffs, that we saw the Nazca booby chicks, Galapagos doves, land iguanas, colonies of flamingos, and snorkeled at the famous Devil’s Crown outside of Post Office Bay in Floreana.
Also in Puerto Ayora, we treated ourselves to ice cream every day because we won’t have it for the next month or so. It may have been the best ice cream we’ve had during our journey around the Pacific.
Of the three islands we’ve called home, Isla Isabela is my favorite. The anchorage is protected and every morning the penguins, sea lions and sometimes black-tipped reef sharks play by the boat. When I was in the water cleaning our hull yesterday, two penguins came by looking for food. I watched them flap their wings underwater and catch a tiny fish. They seemed so focused in their hunt for food. I can’t imagine how they managed to get to the Galapagos in the first place.
It’s been such a privilege to call the Galapagos our home. For Maya and Kai, the hands on biology and lessons of evolution has been invaluable. When I watch Maya (10) and Kai (8) photograph iguanas and penguins and talk to their friends about the behaviors of land tortoises, I know this experience will always be with them, just like it was for Charles Darwin.
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