February 21, 2020 – San Cristobal – Galapagos – Ecuador
We land at night, a black night, along a black land, with no lights other than those of hypothetical boats en route between the islands, perhaps transporting tourists, since fishing boats cannot be, given the strict regulations governing fishing in these waters. Guided by the sophisticated instruments of Ariel, we proceed along the north coast of San Cristobal up to the miragli and the beacon which marks a dangerous shoal to the north east, up to the lights of the town that rather than help confuse the view. We maintain the alignment with beacon in the stern and lighthouse in the bow to pass between the miragli and head towards the bay of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, gimcanating among the anchored boats, to find our nest, alongside Saorsa and behind the Malò Marie III,firm and happy while our imperturbable Ceci prepares us a Gricia pasta that we will remember.
The night envelops us while in the silence some sea lion makes it known that we are at his house and that the undisputed master, clumsy on the ground, but sinuous and soft in the water, is he. Sometimes they get on board because they are curious animals always looking for a comfortable place to lie down, and the little beaches of the boats are a rare diversion and therefore very coveted. Last year on an ARC boat that had inadvertently left room for sea guests to enter, 5 of them were found returning from dinner between cockpit and deckhouse. We were taught to protect every entrance with fenders to avoid not so much the nice company, but the unpleasant smell they give off.
However, they are still very sweet animals, whose knowledge is inevitable as they are present everywhere on the shores, on the piers, on the street. It is not possible to go ashore with your own tender, which among other things would immediately become a playground for the smallest sea lions, but to use the water taxi, for one dollar per person; comfortable and efficient service. We become friends with Dani, who with his Perla Negra, at a single sign on channel 14, comes to pick us up at any time of day and evening. Very soon in San Cristobal you become part of an eco-system where the normal patterns that regulate the life of relationships change automatically, awakening the primordial instincts that harbor in our DNA, making coexistence with animals an absolutely normal fact, so we find ourselves looking for the red crab of the reef,the iguana that only apparently aggressive walks swaying the crest, accelerating the pace as we approach for an instant memory, while the little lions take the milk from the mothers lying on the rocks or on the walkway of the water taxi; all in a few hours becomes normal, and infinitely harmonious.
Harmonic is a term that suits this place, I can’t find another one more guessed, it is the harmony that regulates time and space here at the first taste of Galapagos. Volcanic islands in constant activity, basaltic, recent (almost 1 million years ago, and ancient, up to 4 million years), but never stationary, in the sense that they move 5 centimeters per year towards the northeast. Sooner or later they will reach South America, but it will be another Earth. Known to humanity for Darwin’s studies, in reality when they were discovered they became a penal colony, then the seat of deportation of slaves, and only two rebellions of the population against the tyrants of the time, were the origin of their liberation. The ecosystem is unique, totally autonomous, so rich in an aquatic, terrestrial, sky and plant animal world that it was soon understood,and fortunately saved from the greedy hands and interests of the human species, so as to become a unique heritage of the planet, protected by the UN and currently managed in an excellent way by the Ecuadorians. A boat that arrives in these waters must comply with very strict rules; being part of an organization like ARC helps preparation, so much so that the inspection we receive in the morning upon waking, feared by many navigators, turns out to be severe, but in the end easy. Ten of them get on board: park guard, harbor master, medical officer, immigration officer, local police and customs police, diver to check the hull, inspector for the food authority … and two are missing, because in the end you lose the sense. They check every detail of the boat, from the management of the black water, to the garbage bags,strictly green for wet, black for undifferentiated and blue for recyclable. Dozens of sheets to sign, then fine. We can go ashore. They also make us sign a declaration of where we will go and on what dates. Only three islands can be visited with our boat, but we choose two, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, while we will go to Isabela (the most recent geologically) with their transfers, also to move some local economy.also to move some local economy.also to move some local economy.
We organize the three days that we will spend here with two scheduled excursions, one in the waters of an immense rock to enter the house of sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, rays, and one on land at Junco, a volcanic crater now a natural lake of water. sweet, perennial, where the frigate birds go to wash their breasts from the salt of the sea water because they do not have the sebaceous glands that usually other birds have, and to bathe their beak with fresh and fresh water. The frigates are of rare elegance, they are like gliders, and they never stop, especially they cannot stop in the water like gannets for example, under pain of sinking. They circle in large numbers in a dance that you could observe for hours; their name, strangely similar in Italian and Spanish, frigate, symbolizes the fact that,unable to get all the food necessary for survival, they “scrub” it from other birds, just as they “scrub” the surface of the water. Nature has also given them Myconia, an endemic plant that provides the protein seeds for their survival in a specific phase of their growth, when they are green, and water in another, which is collected as in a sponge, when they become dry and absorb the moisture of the clouds. The beauty is that the different phases of the growth of Miconia coexist as if there were no seasons, except for flowering, an effect that allows the distinction of the different types of different colors.an endemic plant that provides the protein seeds for their survival in a specific phase of their growth, when they are green, and water in another, which collects like a sponge, when they become dry and absorb the humidity of the clouds . The beauty is that the different phases of the growth of Miconia coexist as if there were no seasons, except for flowering, an effect that allows the distinction of the different types of different colors.an endemic plant that provides the protein seeds for their survival in a specific phase of their growth, when they are green, and water in another, which collects like a sponge, when they become dry and absorb the humidity of the clouds . The beauty is that the different phases of the growth of Miconia coexist as if there were no seasons, except for flowering, an effect that allows the distinction of the different types of different colors.
Today we visited the center for the surveillance and protection of land turtles, the giant ones, famous throughout the Galapagos. Those of San Cristobal can reach 150 years of life, 150 kg in weight, while of the three known types, small, medium and large, here are only the medium ones, referring not so much to the size, but to the ability to procure food by stretching the neck. The small ones can only graze what is on the ground, the medium-sized ones (the ones we have seen) can choose whether on the ground or one meter above the ground, stretching their neck to savor leaves placed high, and the large ones, the ones we will see at S Cruz, which can reach two meters! Nature has therefore provided them with a particular carapace, open upwards, to allow the extension of the neck. Today was feeding day.They feed them three times a week, respecting the new dietary rules of the future to guarantee longevity, alternating fasting nutrition, and they make us think, how the most archaic natural balances can contain biological and immunological principles that are always current.
Tomorrow we will set sail for S. Cruz for another dip in biodiversity and primitive nature.
See you soon from Ariel team