Tag Archives: Crabs

Puerto Ayora – Galapagos

Day 1:

We arrived in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos after 1 taxi ride, 3 plane rides, 1 ferry ride and 2 bus rides. To say we were excited to get there is an understatement! Drew and I have had the Galapagos at the top of our “list” for many years. We had a few things on the to-do list before we could really dive in deep to the natural wonders of the island (aka get a hotel, sleep, eat, & shower).

After meeting our basic needs we knew we had one big ticket item to check off….finding a last-minute cruise. AHHHHHHHH! Exciting, stressful, & tedious are the words we would use to describe this task. We knew we would have to be flexible, haggle down the price, and keep our eyes open for sketchy business. After visiting 6 tour shops we seemed to find the best option for us. We weren’t quite ready to “say yes to the cruise” without getting back to the hotel to do a little research (forking over that huge amount of cash is a big deal). About 30 minutes later we returned to the tour company ready to book…only to find out the cruise was full!!! There were numerous couples walking around Puerto Ayora doing the same thing we were and somebody snatched up our cruise at a different tour company. DAMMIT! We kept our cool as our tour agent frantically called around to different boats. He awesomely found us a similar cruise, in First Class, for the same price we were going to pay with the “tourist superior” class. YAHOOOO!!!

The next step was to pay. Easy right? Nope. We knew they charged a large fee for using credit cards, but thought we’d keep it easy on ourselves and pay half in cash and put half on our credit card. This agency did not accept credit cards at all (insert a picture of us pretending to play it cool). So, we left, maxed out all of our daily limits for our atm cards, carried copious amounts of money in my money belt, and walked back to agency to hand over a very tall stack of cash (the ATMs don’t give our hundreds..). Ta-da! It was such a relief to have the cruise booked, so we could get to to the “enjoying” part of the Galapagos! But, first a celebratory drink and then MORE SLEEP.

Day 2:

After a good night’s sleep we woke up early-ish to begin our day. We found a nice little café that served American breakfast; complete with hash browns, bacon, eggs, juice and coffee. Not too shabby. After breakfast we started our walk towards the Charles Darwin Center, about 15 minutes from our hotel. This was really our first chance to start seeing some of the wildlife native to the Galapagos. During this short walk we were treated to sea lions hanging out at a small fish market, as well as Marine Iguanas and crabs all over the place. The sea lions were ridiculous as they were literally nudging up against the people cleaning and selling fish to get the scraps.

Marine Iguanas Sally Lyford Crabs

As we approached the entrance to the center, there were Iguanas lounging all over the place. They also seemed to be perfectly content to let us get close and take some pictures. The Charles Darwin Center itself is a fairly big area with lots of labs, mangroves, rocky beaches, gardens and tortoise sanctuaries. Unfortunately, they were doing some construction which limited our access. Nonetheless, we got our first look at Galapagos Tortoises and were thoroughly impressed.

Up close crab Giant Tortoises Swimming Marine Iguana

After a little siesta in the afternoon we walked to Ninfa Lagoon another recommendation near Puerto Ayora. While it was very serene and full of mangroves, there was not much wildlife to see. We spent about an hour there before we decided to make our way back to the main pier to watch the sunset. The pier was a great time with lots of wildlife to watch, including another sea lion that looked like he had a cold (sniffly nose and runny eyes). Our suspicions were confirmed when he sneezed toward Autumn and hit her legs with some snot rockets. I laughed, but Autumn didn’t think it was as funny. 🙂 After a quick stop for snacks it was back to the hotel to blog and attempt to post past blogs (wifi in the Galapagos is the shittiest we’ve experienced, but oddly enough we don’t mind).

Sea lion on a bench

Day 3

We awake to day 3 of super cloudy weather and are starting to wonder if that is just how things are going to be here. We’ve only had about 5 minutes of sun for the past 2 days we were here and really no rain to go with the clouds. Luckily, the weather is warm and humid, so the sun really would be just an added bonus. Today we are headed to the infamous Tortuga Bay. The entrance is only a ten minute walk from our hotel, but after that you must take a 30-40 minute path to reach the water. The path is surrounded by cacti, other dry shrubs, and volcanic rocks. Many creepy-crawly creatures skitter by as we are walking…some sort of salamander.

Once we reach the beach we knew it was well worth the walk. Our first glimpse is of powdery, white sand and huge rolling waves. This first area is strictly for brave surfers; no swimming allowed. We carved out a seat on part of the sand dune wall, so we could take in the salty breezes and awesome ocean views.

Chillin'Nothing like walking in the surf

As with much of the Galapagos, so far, there were many iguana friends. They are a sight to see when they are fighting the ocean currents in search for green and red algae. They blend in really well with the black lava rock, so they can sometimes be difficult to spot unless they are in the sand.

What are you looking at?

After listening to the loud roar of the immense waves we decided to move 15 minutes down the beach to the swimming bay. The quiet of this bay was a pleasant change and many other people agreed with us. Fortunately the beach was large and we didn’t have any issues finding a place to lounge. As we walked the beach we saw a baby shark of some sort, sting rays, and other small fish. Snorkeling wasn’t meant to be due to one faulty mask and murky water. This beach did offer a path along a cliff with many animals to view and a small, secluded beach.

Beautiful lady and beautiful spot!Lava ledge

The walk back down the beach was as beautiful as ever : )


After a long and wonderful day at the beach we decided to treat ourselves to a huge feast! We went to a local restaurant and ordered the Isla Platter which consisted of grilled: tuna, steak, shrimp, calamari, pork, chicken, asparagus, broccoli, and potatoes. YUUUMMM! Life is good!

Day 4:

More clouds this morning, but we know not to let it concern us; exploring must continue! We took a water taxi across Finch Bay (5 minutes) to start our hike to Las Grietas. This hike brought us through stagnate ponds, and a giant cactus forest to two giant lava rock fissures filled with brackish water. Here we found clear, cool water that was great for a serene snorkel. There weren’t extreme species, but we say an eel, and a few schools of fish. The lava rocks jutted up at many levels creating the effect of making the paths nearly impassable, but by contorting our bodies a bit we were able to make it through.

Las Grietas Las Grietas

There was a small hike through the giant cactus forest and to an overlook. We were able to see many turtles popping out of the water and a few iguanas swimming for lunch. So cool!

Our free “show” for the evening was watching a fishing boat come into the fish market area. We were not the only ones in the audience…many other tourists, sea lions, pelicans, and other birds were rapt with interest. The fisherman dug through their large, iced cooler to pull out 30-40 fish of different kinds. This got the attention of 20 or so hungry birds who proceeded to hover, circle, and swoop towards the boat. The sea lions on the other hand mounted the stairs to wait patiently by the fish market. Once the men started to filet the fish things started to get very interesting!!! They would throw the leftovers over the side of the boat and all hell would break loose! 95% of the fish parts never hit the water; they were pulverized by the lucky bird who managed to gulp the large pieces in 2 seconds flat. If it took longer than 2 seconds they were overtaken by his closest three “friends”. It was a quite the spectacle! Oh AND we saw a seal lion pup nursing!


That evening we picked up our wet suits, snacks, extra sunscreen (never ever buy sunscreen in the Galapagos….most normal sized bottles were priced at $25. We bought a 3 oz bottle for $11. WHOA.), and some booze to bring with us on our 8 day cruise. YAHOOO!!!!


We have made it to the island of Trinidad (and soon come, Tobago). It is amazing how quickly time flies even when you are on an island. We have been here for nearly a week and it seems like we just got here yesterday. To start, Trinidad is much larger (with much more traffic) than I really understood. The island itself is about 90 x 40 miles, which is quite large especially when you factor in that about 1.3 million people live here and all of them seem to want to go whatever direction we are going. The time it takes to get around is very much a limiting factor in doing too much exploring on the southern side of the island. We are staying in Maraval which is north of the capital, Port of Spain by about 15 minutes. Well, actually depending on the time of day it can take 15 minutes or 1 hour to drive to Port of Spain, but I was being generous. Unlike the tropical vacations Autumn and I have been on, Trinidad is much more industrialized and with a substantial oil and gas industry. Apparently Hugo Chávez had even threatened to take over Trinidad for its natural resources at one point. I suppose from a location perspective it makes sense as the southern end of Trinidad gets as close as 7 miles from Venezuela.

One comment on the roads in Trinidad; even with all of the money that the country is bringing in via oil and gas, the roads are crap. I mean BAD. First of all, they are seriously narrow with plenty of tight turns due to the mountains. Add in lots of pot holes, rain water gutters runs along the side of the roads, and the fact that traffic rules are more “guidelines” than anything and it makes for some seriously crazy driving. Having lived in Nassau, I thought I had a good handle on the island driving experience, but this is at a whole new level. Just in case you don’t believe me, the rain gutters run from 6 inches to 3 feet in depth and don’t typically have a curb to let you know if you are going to drop a tire into it. You could be driving along and have to move over for someone coming down the middle of the road and end up with your car’s front end on the ground. Not fun. That being said, I am driving like a champ! It is not without some nerves, but I guess if you constantly expect the unexpected you are bound to do alight. I told Autumn today that there is no “should” when talking about other drivers, there is only what “is”. Someone parked in the middle of traffic to get out and get something from the store? Ok, no reason to get mad, just pull into oncoming traffic, honk, and keep moving. Mom and Dad I do not recommend you two driving down here.

Rain Gutter


Enough of the background, let’s talk about activities. Autumn and I are finding that we are really good at jumping into doing things, but we are not so good at taking pictures of doing things. Don’t worry, we are working on being better about it. Without getting too much into the daily specifics, let me cover off on some of the highlights; Green Market, Maracas Beach, Las Cuevas, Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Paramin, and Pitch Lake.

Green Market. Our friends Zahra and Marvin took us to the Green Market on Saturday morning. The best description I can give is that it is a farmer’s market with cooked food stands in addition to the produce and local products. This was our first opportunity to eat some real Trini food. We jumped right in with Roti. Roti is a flour based almost tortilla like dough that is cooked and stuffed with delicious goodness and rolled into a wrap. It can also be served with the Roti on the side allowing you to eat by hand with the meat or stuffing coming on the side. We dug in and it was delicious!

Maracas and Las Cuevas Beaches. Besides the awesome beaches they had much to offer for Trini foods. Mango Chow and Pineapple Chow are delicious spicy herbs mixed in with the fruit juices and poured over the fruit. Awesome! Autumn thought it was great, but I thought it was a little too hot. Then, we also were lucky enough to enjoy BAKE & SHARK. Omg. It is breaded shark on fried bread. That alone would sell anyone, but then they offer a condiment bar to die for. There are tons of sauces (we had zero idea what any of them were), slaw, veggies, and pineapple. Fortunately, the first time we ate there we were able to guess correctly with the sauces (equaling a very complimentary mix). The second time we were braver and unbeknownst to us we layered on the hot pepper sauce. HOT< HOT<HOT!! We still didn’t really care due to the awesome breaded shark, but no amount of Carib (the Trini beer) could quench our thirst!

Bake & Shark!!!!Delicious

The Beaches themselves were beautiful. The bays are surrounded by lush mountains, palm trees, and plenty of sand. We had numerous chances to body surf and fight the big waves in Maracas. In Las Cuevas the beach was much longer and it was perfect for walking (minus the sand flies). Many people at the beach were locals, but the tourists that were there were mainly South American; probably Brazilian or Venezuelan. It was cloudy and a little rainy most of the time that we are on the beach, but it was okay because it was 93 degrees and humid.

Overlooking Maracas BayLas Cuevas Beach

Caroni Bird Sanctuary. This was recommended to us by many people, but Autumn was hesitant. Once she found out there was a boat ride she jumped on board. As this is not really the tourist season, we were able to get a big boat for us and another couple. The tour took us through a swamp where we saw snakes snoozing in the trees, and crabs (tree climbing crabs) climbing up branches. But, the main event was the Scarlet Ibis, Trinidad’s national bird. 2-3 months of the year these birds fly to Venezuela during the day to feed and then come back to the swamp to roost (a 7-15 mile flight both ways). After a lovely boat ride we awaited their arrival across the lake from their roosting spot. Hundreds of Ibis, as well as white egrets, flew above/around our boat to find their home for the evening. It was a beautiful and peaceful experience!

Caroni boat ride   The Swamp Scarlet Ibis roost

Paramin. This is a mountain-side village full of great views and small farms. Our host, Anne Marie, was kind enough to drive us up the mountains in her truck. You need a 4-wheel drive vehicle up there as there are crazy switch backs due to the steepness of the mountain. The drive was fun and a different sort of intense versus the rest of the driving we did. I’m glad I wasn’t the one doing the driving so I could enjoy the scenery too. It is beautiful up there. We were at about 2,500 or 3,000 feet in elevation which is impressive considering it drops right down into the sea. The views from the top were gorgeous!

The view from on top of Paramin  Paramin View

Pitch Lake. The Pitch Lake was something that we had been told about almost from when we arrived on the island. As it was described, it was a lake of tar on which you could do a walking tour. After much debate, we decided to make the 2 hour drive down there on Thursday, our last day in Trinidad. The drive down to the Southern end of the island was an adventure in itself, but the lake and the surrounding area was worth the trip. Unlike what I was thinking (a bubbling lake of tar with dead stuff in it) the lake was actually covered in water and more resembled a swamp than anything. The neat part was that the ground was “pitch” or tar that was pushing up and making some very cool fissures, water pools, and underwater topography. The water pools are said to have healing and restorative powers like a fountain of youth. We were not prepared for swimming, but we put some on our face, arms, and legs. I’m pretty sure my legs look younger than they have in years. 🙂 Another interesting thing to note is that the whole area, towns, roads, farms, etc. all sit on the pitch so the roads and house are constantly moving. Unlike other places in Trinidad where houses are made out of concrete, houses near Pitch Lake are built on wooden rafts that sit on the ground with the house up on stilts. Every 2-3 months they have to jack houses up and move them back or level them off because the ground is always moving. Very different, but very neat.

Playing with Liquid pitch  Peeling back layers of pitch Watch your step!Autumn standing in the pitch lake  

After a nice week in Trinidad we are headed over to Tobago, the sister island of Trinidad for a couple of days before our flight on Sunday to Argentina. The flight is an arduous 18 minutes. Up and Down. We will definitely let you know how it goes. We have been told that it is much more “Caribbean” than Trinidad with plenty of nice beaches, good fishing, and good swimming too.