Day 8: Land sick??

Puerto Ayora Travel Blog

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Today is our last day on the Cormorant II.  We are pretty happy to be leaving the boat for solid ground.

Our guide didn't show up to work this morning.  That's okay, he wasn't very good anyways.  After a few calls, they found us a new guide, Jeff.  Jeff is 100 times better than our old guide.  He was excited to see us, he told us his name, he asked where people were from, he counted us to make sure we were all there, etc.  All of the things a good guide should do.

Our first stop after leaving the boat was the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for the giant tortoises.  The place we visited was a farm adjacent to one of the national parks.  The farmer has allowed some of his land to go wild so that the tortoises may come to feed.

  There were amazing looking!  Some of them were absolutely ancient.  150+ years according to the guide.  You can estimate the age of a tortoise by looking at its shell.  As they grow older, the shells get worn smooth and then start to develop pock marks where the shell is deteriorating.  Eventually these pock marks will grow and bacteria will penerate the shell.  This infection can eventually lead to the death of the tortoise.  I wonder if they've ever tried repairing the shells with Bondo or epoxy?

The tortoises we saw were huge too.  During mating season, the adult males try to make themselves look bigger to attract a female.  An adult male tortoise may be 3+ ft tall at the top of its shell and it may be nearly 5 ft tall at its head.

The farm also had some other cool things to see.  We saw coffee plants growing.  And there was another lava tube to go into.  This lava tube wasn't any more interesting than the last one but there was an owl roosting near the entrance.  Owls are Rachel's favorite bird.  She was very excited to see it.

After taking a million or so pictures of the owl, we headed off to the airport to fly back to Quito.  And we saw another owl!  This one was roosting on top of a wall in the airport of all places.  Who knew?

The flight back to Quito was uneventful.  We were picked up from the airport by Johnny, the driver from our next hotel, Bellavista Lodge.  Bellavista Lodge is an ecolodge in the Ecuadorian cloud forest.  The cloud forest is a type of rain forest that forms in the mountains where warm, moist air off the ocean is forced to cool and rise.  As a result the cloud forest receives a lot of rain and is very humid but tends to be cooler and foggier than a typical rain forest.  The cloud forest that we visited was renowned for its biodiversity.  There are all sorts of birds and animals that we hope to see.

Bellavista Lodge was pretty slow so they upgraded us to a nice little suite after we told them it was our honeymoon.  The power went out at dinner time so Rachel and I donned our headlamps to get around.  Then the strangest thing started happening.  Our room started rocking just like a boat.  Well, it wasn't actually the room but my body sure felt like the room was rocking.  Apparently, my body still thought it was on the boat!  Who knew you could get land sick after being sea sick?

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Puerto Ayora
photo by: timbo