We take a long bus ride on Santa Cruz to see Giant tortoises. Even before we get to the farm, we see a number of large ones on the side of the road. As with Isabela, I find even the bus ride interesting - just to see how people live on the inner parts of the island. The tortoises are pretty amazing - they're huge - and also prehistoric looking. When I get a bit too close to one, he retreats into his shell and even the related sound is so fascinating - sounds like a quiet hydraulic system. We get back in the bus and visit a lava tunnel and two sink holes (lava tunnels that have collapsed). All three are very interesting - but I am most fascinated by the animals. We have a delicious lunch at a seaside hotel (our first off-ship meal - but still delicious). We then go to the Darwin Center and walk around Porto Ayoro, the surrounding town. The Center has more and different tortoises and iguanas, all being raised to be returned to the wild. We also see famous 'Lonesome George" who is the last of his species . It seems like he has a peaceful life (he has girlfriends in with him) - just doesn't seem to want any children ;') . One of the most interesting parts of the town is where the fishermen bring in their catch, clean it, and sell it to the town people. Sea lions, pelicans, and other birds anxiously await opportunities to steal small bites or even entire fish. We buy several pounds of Galapagos coffee and I get a large package of chocolate cookies in a small grocery. I've not yet found any other form of chocolate and I dare not show up at work after returning from vacation with no chocolate. I wonder how in the world we're going to fit the coffee in our bags. Harry's carry-on does not have an inch of room in it though he does have the small fold-up knapsack that I convinced him to take. Fortunately mine has a zippered expansion. Five people leave the tour today (I guess they were on the short version) and two joined. The new father and son from Quito are just as nice as the reast of our shipmates fortunately.
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