Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Monday 6 October/Tuesday 7 October/ Wednesday 8 October

Last post of the holiday. We have had the most tremendous experiences over the last month. We have been so fortunate to have had a wonderful touring group. It is very difficult to travel with 38 people in a bus, in and out of airports and hotels  but we have made so many great friends and acquaintances over the weeks. The places we have been to have been jaw dropping, one after another. When you think it can get no better is does. We continued to run out of adjectives to describe the experiences, scenery and adventures, made even more special by all the sharing that was done by all the tour members.
We left the Galapagas Islands on Monday but not before we had some final photos: the Zodiacs racing to get us one last time and the male frigate (you can just about see his red throat) soaring along with the ship.
We flew to Quayaquil where we walked down to the riverfront. A great place with so much green space in the middle of the city for people to walk, children to play and artists to sit and paint and sell their art. And the city is so orderly....wouldn't you love to have all red lights or all green lights? 
Wouldn't that make the traffic flow better?
Look at how cheap things are here. Jan and I had coffee, hot chocolate, a Danish and a donut and we got change from US $8!!
Last night together for the 9 of us that went to the Galápagos. We were to have all gone out to tea, but two down with gastric and one with the flu. There have been so many sick with one thing or the other but the majority just got on with it...you heard no complaining.
Tuesday we flew to Santiago, spent the night and will fly home to Brisbane Wed.
Hope you enjoyed the blog as much as I did writing it. Next trip Sunday, Nov 9 to the USA!

Saturday 4 October, 2014

We explored both sides of Floreana Island today. So far the boat has been cruising at night and again at lunch time.  Post Office Bay is so named because since 1793, pirates, whalers and ships captains would leave their correspondence in the wooden barrel, hoping that the next person that came along might live near the addressee and take the letter to them! In 1913, Captain David Potter wanted to destroy the whaling fleet so he read the letters of the whalers which told him where the whalers we're going so he could ambush them. Today we wrote postcards and left them in the box, hoping someone who comes later will take the postcard and deliver it.  We then went through all the letters that had been left in the box to see if we could deliver any of them. Very few were to any addresses in Australia. Many of the letters said for pick up only, mening people left them hoping that person would one dy come to the Galápagos Islands and pick up the letter themselves. Great idea!
Thought I might show you the size of our room...very small as you can see. Jan and I have to go sideways to get into bed and the shower/toilet is the smallest I have ever seen. But all we have to do is sleep in it so we manage.
This morning we saw our first tortoise under water, very hard to take a photo because of the refraction of the water. We also saw a couple penguins...gee it is hard to take photos from a bouncing Zodiac (an inflatable dinghy that hold about 16 people plus the driver. We also saw a male frigate with a beautiful orange throat.
The beach at Comorant Point (the afternoon exploration) is a golden green because it is rich in olivine (aluminum, silica, magnesium and iron-a collection of volcanic crystals.) it is the nesting site of the Green Pacific Sea Turtle but sadly it wasn't nesting time and all we saw were the holes that previous turtles had dug.
We saw several of the Blue footed Boobies plunge like an arrow into the water to find some fish. They then sit on the water for a few moments before they take off again, fly around and head straight into the water! What a sight to see. Saw some flamingos but they were really too far away for good photos. There had been a population of 1500 but several years ago, they had so much rain that it changed the water and it no longer was as saline as it had been and the flamingos died. We also saw some more Blue footed Booby babies.

Friday 3 October, 2014

Wake up calls and all announcements are over the loud speaker system! Certainly gives you a start in the morning. Meals are good and hearty, plenty of local cuisine.
Today we boarded the Zodiacs to explore Espanola Island which is one of the oldest in the archipelago. Gardner Bay is an extensive beach of white coastline...beautiful blue crystal water.  More sea lions, iguanas, and crabs. Also we saw mockingbirds. They have no fear of people, they walk right up to you with out being scared or flying away! I tried snorkeling but to no avail. Got all geared up and in the water. But as I wear glasses, they did not have any corrected lense masks and when I tried the regular mask, I couldn't see at all. Water was lovely though but it would have been great to see all the fish under water.  
This afternoon we went on the other side of the island to Suarez Point. It is a prime sanctuary of birds! They are everywhere! We also saw a blowhole that shoots water 25 metres up into the air. The scenery near the water is so beautiful!
Fortunate to see the blue footed Booby and its chick, many albatross birds and several of their chicks as well as the Galapogos Hawk, yellow warbler, a sea lion pup that was only 2 days old and lava lizards.

Thursday 2 October, 2014

At the airport again for our flight to San Cristobal, one of the remote Galápagos Islands! I once counted up how many flights we were going to do on this trip and how many hours were going to be spent to and froing from airports and decided to ignore the time. I decided that if I want to travel and see these places then I need to look at that time as a necessary evil! The first photo is the view from the airplane of some of the rocks off the island coast.
We boarded the Galápagos Legend cruise ship, 90 metres long with  about 75 other travellers and a crew of about 65! We had lunch as soon as we got on board, unpacked, explored the ship and were on the Zodiac rafts by 3pm. No wasting time here. Off to explore San Cristo! These volcanic islands were formed over the years by hot spots under the sea that was a source of molten lava that pierced the crust of the earth. They were discovered in 1535 and initially mapped in 1561 and became the source of Darwin's intuition about evolution when he was exploring the islands. 
The wildlife is abundant, especially sea lions and Marine Iguanas, and I'm talking hundreds and hundreds just today. 
Each day on board we get a little talk from the naturalists on board as to what we can expect on the next excursion.
Today as I said, we saw lots of sea lions and also the Sally Lightfoot crab as well as frigate birds!

Epicurean delight Machu Picchu

At the Sumac Restaurant we were treated to a very special evening! We were taught how to make Pisco Sours which of course is made with Pisco, a juice extracted from fresh grapes that undergo a three to four month fermentation process. The soil quality, climate, cultivation of the vine and storage in large vessels give Pisco it's incomparable texture. The drink is made with Pisco, lime juice, sugar syrup, egg white and ice, all shaken for 20 seconds. Quite nice. 
Then we were taught how to make a ceviche, which is fish marinated in salted lime juice! Tonight we had trout! Delicious! They had made a big one as a sample and gave it to the birthday girl, Pat, from New York Island.
The meals were so good and so well presented!
Appetizers Corn pie: delicate pie filled with ox tail and Paria cheese with a delicious sauce made with porcini mushrooms and crisp sweet potato matchsticks.
Causa Filled with two textured chicken breast: layered seasoned mashed potatoes filled with chicken and a delicious avocado sauce, crunchy pano breaded chicken fillets and a creole tradition sauce.
Main dishes:
Alpaca Tenderloin with bernaise and spearmint, grilled mushrooms, mashed potatoes and crispy green beans.
Southern flavored Veal stew cooked for endless hours in a delicious spicy marinade sauce, accompanied by Peruvian pumpkin risotto and bell pepper.
Ravioli filled with beef in Cilantro sauce stew with Jungle grown Brazil Nuts and fried onion rings.
Oven baked trout with flavours from the mountain gods.
Oriental Andean Chicken Breast accompanied by a Peruvian Thai sauce.
The traditional Suspiro a la Limena made with meringue and caramel spread.
Hot Tart with chocolate truffle and a sauce made with forest berries.
Rice Pudding with Pisco soaked raisins, sherbet made from sweet purple corn juice and a thin crunchy quinoa cookie.
So you can see we had quite a meal!
Whoops...somehow the dish with 2 shells got added accidentally. That was my crab salad another night.