San Cristobal: A wild first encounter with the Galapagos

The best thing about San Cristobal? Sea Lions.

Sea lions lounge in a flotilla just off Coconut Woman's port bow in San Cristobal.

A sea lion objects to Meredith sharing his bench.

A sea lion objects to Meredith sharing his bench.

They're everywhere here, even lounging on the bench at the bus stop. They're sociable, argumentative, loud, smelly, and provide fabulous comic relief.

Some of them enjoy going up the transom stairs of some of our friends' catamarans and lounging and pooping on their decks. Our friend, Lucy, was forced to prod one with a broom just to get him off the boat.

Taxi Pangas must run everyone into the harbor docks because otherwise, sea lions would pile into the dinghies and most likely, sink them.

As for their noises, think “loquacious sheep meets loud, drunk, obnoxious, belching, flatulent, belligerent large caveman,” and you've got it just about right.

Se lion lounges on park bench in middle of San Cristobal.

Se lion lounges on park bench in middle of San Cristobal.

We took an all day tour in a fast motorboat all the way around the island with Chris and Jess from Om, and some other fun people. Within less than 24 hours of our arrival, we snorkeled with sea turtles, rays, eel, puffer and many other fish, tormented crabs, saw the rare red­footed booby nesting grounds, voyeured frigate mating rituals, and took in the astoundingly gorgeous volcanic shapes and forms of the countryside. Not bad for our first day out of the Galapagos gates.

Today, we went hiking in the countryside just outside of town to climb the large mountainous rock where the frigates fly and roost. The path then led us to a Galapagos Natural History museum, and on the way back into town, we watched the local social scene which is centered around outdoor activities: The beach, bike­riding, yammering together at a cafe on the sidewalk, strolling, and snacking along the way at small food stands. We estimate Justin has ordered fresh ceviche every day for two of his three daily meals, sometimes for breakfast! Aside from Justin being assaulted by a stink bug and me having been curtly reprimanded by a sea lion, life here is pretty grand.

This waterfall is one of the rare constantly ­flowing sources of water that flows down to the arid coast from the lush and rainy high mountain area.

Turtle Lagoon.jpg

The Galapagos was formed by volcanic explosions around 5 million years ago, as a land of barren lava and rock. Over millions of years, winds blew seeds over 600 miles from mainland Ecuador to the islands. Pioneer plants such as lichens and cacti, that could survive with little water, created enough soil for other plants and animals to flourish. Galapagos is a strange meeting place of winds and currents, and though on the Equator, sports little evidence of the typical tropical environment. It is more like the high plains, or high desert, some of it covered with lush grasses or barren volcanic outcroppings.


More photos from our adventures in San Cristobal and Frigate Rock

Posted on March 6, 2015 .