San Cristobal Island

Another early start; we were up at 7.00am as usual, and dressed, breakfasted and were ready to go by 7.50 for our Zodiac ride across to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island.  San Cristobal is one of the few inhabited islands in the Galápagos, so we looked forward to visiting this small town, as well as our walk.  I had with me a stout walking staff, as we’d been advised that the walk would be quite steep over varied terrain.

Our Zodiac pulled up at the small landing stage and we all disembarked, one by one, handing our lifejackets to one of the Celebrity staff, who placed them in a large waterproof bag to take back to the ship for the next 16 passengers who would be going ashore.  😊

The port looked very picturesque and exuded a rustic, laid-back charm.  We could see many small boats bobbing gently up and down, and well as lots of sea-lions; some of them on the beach, some underneath the boardwalk, or on the steps, over even on some of the boats!  As well as the sounds of the sea lapping against the boats and the shore, we could hear a chorus of “ohuh, ohuh, ohuh” coming from the sea-lions, a sound which some of the guides imitated.  😊

We strolled along the wooden walkways until they gave way to rocky, uneven ground and once again we had to watch our step as we climbed higher.  Every now and again the guide would stop, to allow us to take in the wonderful views with our eyes as well as our cameras.  At one point the sun came out and I was glad I was wearing a sun hat as well as Factor 20 sun protection.

Eventually we came to a series of zigzagging wooden steps which had a rickety handrail, and I puffed my way up each set, pausing to look at the view, and the Xpedition at anchor far below us, as well as one or two other pleasure cruisers and small fishing boats.  Breathing in the fresh salty air and feeling the sun warm on my back, Durham and home and work seemed part of another world.

After reaching the highest part of the walk, we took some time out before commencing the climb back down.  We took a different route down, which thankfully meant we didn’t have to pick our way over the rocks.

We then made our way to the Interpretation Centre, which is a joint effort between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and their partner, the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador.  The two universities constructed this facility to advance their shared goal of promoting science and education that will help protect these fragile island ecosystems and enhance the lives of their inhabitants.

Inside, we read all about the islands, including quotes from the people who lived in the Galápagos and were obviously very proud to do so.  There was a heartfelt sign on the wall which contained the quote “Until recently, the future of humans depending on the islands.  Today, the future of the islands depends on humans”.

After our visit to the Interpretation Centre we were advised we had about an hour and a half free time, to do our own thing.  We therefore took a slow walk through the charming little streets, all the time hearing the “ohuh, ohuh, ohuh, ohuh” of the sea-lions which were all along the beach as well as some which had even made their way into town, and were lying in the shades of trees or buildings.  We had some postcards of the Galápagos which had been in the goody bag we received for winning the quiz the other night, so we first of all had to find a shop selling stamps.  After asking around, we eventually found a little souvenir shop that sold stamps among lots of other things; t-shirts, hats, keyrings, ornaments and all the usual holiday stuff.  We bought the stamps which were large and colourful and featured aspects of Galápagos life and wildlife; we needed four for each card so there wouldn’t be much room to write anything!

As we sat on a nearby bench writing them out, several people from the ship passed by and asked us where we’d bought the stamps, so we directed them to the little shop which conveniently had a postbox on the wall outside.  We should have been on commission, because we must have told about 10 people where the shop was!

Once the cards were written and posted, we continued on our way and came across a shop selling shoes.  My wedge flipflops, which I’ve had years and which have seen me through many a holiday, are much the worse for wear now, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to get some new ones.  The lady in the shop was very helpful, and I came out with a very comfortable pair of red faux-leather thong sandals with a padded insole.

After wandering around a bit more, we started make our way back to the Zodiac landing stage, passing a large area of fenced-off beach on the way.  The non-stop barking of the sea-lions mixed with the sounds of the waves and the cries of the seabirds.  There were a great many sea-lions on the beach and frolicking in the water; we saw a large female with her tiny little pup; he must have only been a few days old and made little high-pitched wails in between latching onto his mother for a feed.  It was such a gorgeous sight, seeing all these creatures living together in perfect harmony; man could learn a lot from them.

We spent quite a while there, as we couldn’t take our eyes of the sea-lions and their antics.  Time was getting on, however, so we reluctantly made our way back to queue for the Zodiac.  As each inflatable only carries 16 passengers the queues were never very long. Collecting our life-jackets once again, we descended the steps and were delighted at the sight of a large sea-lion stretched out on a bench, completely oblivious to the groups of nearby chattering people.  😊

The Zodiac bounced and sped its way over the waves, every now and again sending up a refreshing spray of sea.  In five minutes we were back on board the Xpedition for about 11.00am, just in time for a nice cold beer. What a fabulous morning it had been!  😊

At around midday the Xpedition set sail once again.  We enjoyed a light lunch then spent the early afternoon pottering around the ship and taking a revitalising long nap, as we were quite tired out after all our activity this morning.  As we were lying there, we could distinctly feel the ship’s motion, and it felt as though there were some fairly large waves out there.

We went up on deck around 2.00pm; the Xpedition was dancing a merry jig on the waves, pitching and tossing and sending up lots of sea-spray.  It was therefore not surprising when Monica, the cruise director, announced that due to safety issues any excursions this afternoon, which would obviously entail going ashore in the Zodiacs, would unfortunately have to be cancelled.  This was disappointing as we planned once again to go on a long steep hike over varied terrain, looking at the wildlife and just enjoying the rugged landscape.  Safety always has to come first, however, so we’d just have to spend the remainder of today on board the ship.

Instead, the staff put on a showing of a film called “The Rock about the Galápagos during the second World War.  It passed an interesting interlude, during which time we made the most of the gratis cocktails.  😉

Afterwards it was back to cabin 416 where I got showered and washed my hair, as tonight we had received an invitation to the Captain’s Cocktail Party at 7.00pm.  So I took my leisurely time getting ready, then we sat in the Discovery Lounge for a short while before meeting at the Guest Relations Desk to be escorted to the venue.  Looking at the number of people who attended (and bearing in mind there was no announcement of the cocktail party in the daily programme) it appeared that not everyone had received an invitation, so it looked as if Trevor and I were one of the chosen few.  😊

We were shown to Deck 5, which had been sheltered somewhat from the still windy and rough weather by a large awning.  At the doorway Captain Fausto Pacheco greeted us and we were handed a glass of ‘champagne’ and some tasty king prawn canapés.

We enjoyed the chatter and banter with our fellow passengers, including Jeff, to whom we bowed as tonight was the night he was due to join the officers’ table.  There was no sign of Jan, and Jeff said she was lying down with a migraine; we said we hoped she would be better in time to join her ‘special’ dinner.

Back down in the Discovery Lounge we listened to the briefing for tomorrow’s activities before making our way to the Darwin Restaurant for dinner.  We were joined by Tom and Lee-Anne as well as Brian and Karen.  Once again, the meal was spent in interesting and convivial company.  We noticed that Jan had been unable to put in an appearance at the officers’ table.

It was after 9.00pm when we repaired to the Discovery Lounge, and we were surprised not to find many people there.  Perhaps they were sea-sick after today’s bouncing around, or maybe they didn’t like karaoke, which was planned as tonight’s entertainment.  There were about 10 people in there, however, and at least as many staff, so still enough to make a party out of it.  😊

I got up and did a few numbers, so did Tom and a lot of the staff.  It was quite different to see some karaoke songs in Spanish.  When the English language songs were on, the staff joined in lustily, and even the passengers who didn’t get up and sing on their own.  So the evening wasn’t a dead loss; we kept it going until midnight, with maybe five passengers getting up and at least that many staff.  It was all good fun, and we remained at the bar afterwards to enjoy a nightcap.

Once again we’d had an excellent day; it was only a pity we couldn’t make our afternoon’s excursion, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  We were good and tired and went to sleep almost immediately, despite the still very noticeable ship’s motion.

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