Galapagos Part II: Cruising

Note: More pictures on Facebook!
There are no two ways around it.  The best way to see the Galapagos is by boat.  That’s how Darwin did it after all. But today’s experience is much different from the uninhibited five  weeks that Darwin spent exploring the islands in the middle of his 5 year journey aboard The Beagle.  Travelers now explore the more remote islands only by fancy cruise ships, and are restricted to small visitor sites that prohibit off trail travel.
In fact, today’s naturalists would be appalled by the way Darwin explored the Galapagos.  Trampling around the islands he writes of riding giant tortoises and munching on sea turtles.  In his observations of marine iguanas, he would chase them to the shore, pick them up, and launch them into the sea, watching them swim rapidly back to the rocks.  He deems that their “fear” of the water was due to some aggressive sea predator, but it was later realized that marine iguanas need to reach a certain afternoon temperature before diving in.  He also writes of his companion’s experiments to see how long iguanas can survive underwater.  They tied it’s tail to a weight underwater, and an hour later, it was pulled to the surface, alive and healthy.
After a disappointing day tour to the island of Floreana, where more time was spent on the choppy crossing watching foreigners puke over the hull than actually onshore, I was convinced that doing a multi-day cruise would be worth the dollars.  United Statesans and Europeans will typically pay $3000 for an eight-day first-class, and all-inclusive guided cruise of the islands, not quite the price I was looking for.  Already on the main island of Santa Cruz, I capitalized on my unusual “more time than money” status.  I researched the boats, found out who was going where, and how many spaces were available.  I bypassed the agencies and went right to the owners.  Just 2 hours before Yolita II was about to cruise out of the harbor, I showed up, cash in hand with an amount far lower than what the owners were asking for a 4-day cruise.  Knowing that they weren’t going to otherwise fill up their empty cabins on such short notice, they let me hop aboard as long as I vowed not to reveal the price I was paying to the other passengers.  Hanging out for a week in Santa Cruz in the low-season with a guilt-free sense of bargaining…this was the poor man’s ticket to a cruise in the Galapagos.
Yolita II is a small first-class cruise boat, hosting 16 passengers and 10 crew.  Not having been on a cruise boat before, I was shocked by what we were given.  My own room, air-conditioning, private bath with hot water, these were far better conditions than I was used to on land.  The other passengers were good fun, and the food was the best I had in eight months.  Each day, we would boat to two new islands and do some of the best snorkeling in the world.  In just 30 minutes of snorkeling off the coast of Sombrero Chino we encountered sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, manta rays, and diving penguins.  This was the good life…unfortunately it was just 4 days.
Traveling in style, and at a budget price on Yolita II

Traveling in style, and at a budget price on Yolita II

Note: More pictures on Facebook!

There are no two ways around it.  The best way to see the Galapagos is by boat.  That’s how Darwin did it after all. But today’s experience is much different from the uninhibited five  weeks that Darwin spent exploring the islands in the middle of his 5 year journey aboard The Beagle.  Travelers now explore the more remote islands only by fancy cruise ships, and are restricted to small visitor sites that prohibit off trail travel.

In fact, today’s naturalists would be appalled by the way Darwin explored the Galapagos.  Trampling around the islands he writes of riding giant tortoises and munching on sea turtles.  In his observations of marine iguanas, he would chase them to the shore, pick them up, and launch them into the sea, watching them swim rapidly back to the rocks.  He deems that their “fear” of the water was due to some aggressive sea predator, but it was later realized that marine iguanas need to reach a certain afternoon temperature before diving in.  He also writes of his companion’s experiments to see how long iguanas can survive underwater.  They tied it’s tail to a weight underwater, and an hour later, it was pulled to the surface, alive and healthy.

After a disappointing day tour to the island of Floreana, where more time was spent on the choppy crossing watching foreigners puke over the hull than actually onshore, I was convinced that doing a multi-day cruise would be worth the dollars.  United Statesans and Europeans will typically pay $3000 for an eight-day first-class, and all-inclusive guided cruise of the islands, not quite the price I was looking for.  Already on the main island of Santa Cruz, I capitalized on my unusual “more time than money” status.  I researched the boats, found out who was going where, and how many spaces were available.  I bypassed the agencies and went right to the owners.  Just 2 hours before Yolita II was about to cruise out of the harbor, I showed up, cash in hand with an amount far lower than what the owners were asking for a 4-day cruise.  Knowing that they weren’t going to otherwise fill up their empty cabins on such short notice, they let me hop aboard as long as I vowed not to reveal the price I was paying to the other passengers.  Hanging out for a week in Santa Cruz in the low-season with a guilt-free sense of bargaining…this was the poor man’s ticket to a cruise in the Galapagos.

Yolita II is a small first-class cruise boat, hosting 16 passengers and 10 crew.  Not having been on a cruise boat before, I was shocked by what we were given.  My own room, air-conditioning, private bath with hot water, these were far better conditions than I was used to on land.  The other passengers were good fun, and the food was the best I had in eight months.  Each day, we would boat to two new islands and do some of the best snorkeling in the world.  In just 30 minutes of snorkeling off the coast of Sombrero Chino we encountered sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, manta rays, and diving penguins.  This was the good life…unfortunately it was just 4 days.

A pirate is someone who steals merchandise from a boat right? In my nine months of travel, this would be my first robbery.  On my last night I realized that my sim card was missing from my cell phone.  Having used it just before departing, I knew it was stolen.  But who would steal a $5 sim card on a boat?  Later that evening, the bartender mysteriously asked if he could borrow my Motorola phone charger (how stupid could you be?).  I soon found out the bartender, who was on a short-term assignment, also cleans the rooms.  I searched the bar and there it was, my sim card.  The captain and I confronted him about stealing it, and though the liar never confessed, I am convinced that I had just met my first pirate.

There are no two ways around it.  The best way to see the Galapagos is by boat.  That’s how Darwin did it after all. But today’s experience is much different from the uninhibited five  weeks that Darwin spent exploring the islands in the middle of his 5 year journey aboard The Beagle.  Travelers now explore the more remote islands only by fancy cruise ships, and are restricted to small visitor sites that prohibit off trail travel.
In fact, today’s naturalists would be appalled by the way Darwin explored the Galapagos.  Trampling around the islands he writes of riding giant tortoises and munching on sea turtles.  In his observations of marine iguanas, he would chase them to the shore, pick them up, and launch them into the sea, watching them swim rapidly back to the rocks.  He deems that their “fear” of the water was due to some aggressive sea predator, but it was later realized that marine iguanas need to reach a certain afternoon temperature before diving in.  He also writes of his companion’s experiments to see how long iguanas can survive underwater.  They tied it’s tail to a weight underwater, and an hour later, it was pulled to the surface, alive and healthy.
After a disappointing day tour to the island of Floreana, where more time was spent on the choppy crossing watching foreigners puke over the hull than actually onshore, I was convinced that doing a multi-day cruise would be worth the dollars.  United Statesans and Europeans will typically pay $3000 for an eight-day first-class, and all-inclusive guided cruise of the islands, not quite the price I was looking for.  Already on the main island of Santa Cruz, I capitalized on my unusual “more time than money” status.  I researched the boats, found out who was going where, and how many spaces were available.  I bypassed the agencies and went right to the owners.  Just 2 hours before Yolita II was about to cruise out of the harbor, I showed up, cash in hand with an amount far lower than what the owners were asking for a 4-day cruise.  Knowing that they weren’t going to otherwise fill up their empty cabins on such short notice, they let me hop aboard as long as I vowed not to reveal the price I was paying to the other passengers.  Hanging out for a week in Santa Cruz in the low-season with a guilt-free sense of bargaining…this was the poor man’s ticket to a cruise in the Galapagos.
Yolita II is a small first-class cruise boat, hosting 16 passengers and 10 crew.  Not having been on a cruise boat before, I was shocked by what we were given.  My own room, air-conditioning, private bath with hot water, these were far better conditions than I was used to on land.  The other passengers were good fun, and the food was the best I had in eight months.  Each day, we would boat to two new islands and do some of the best snorkeling in the world.  In just 30 minutes of snorkeling off the coast of Sombrero Chino we encountered sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, manta rays, and diving penguins.  This was the good life…unfortunately it was just 4 days.
A pirate is someone who steals merchandise from a boat right? In my nine months of travel, this would be my first robbery.  On my last night I realized that my sim card was missing from my cell phone.  Having used it just before departing, I knew it was stolen.  But who would steal a $5 sim card on a boat?  Later that evening, the bartender mysteriously asked if he could borrow my Motorola phone charger (how stupid could you be?).  I soon found out the bartender, who was on a short-term assignment, also cleans the rooms.  I searched the bar and there it was, my sim card.  The captain and I confronted him about stealing it, and though the liar never confessed, I am convinced that I had just met my first pirateNote: More pictures on Facebook!
There are no two ways around it.  The best way to see the Galapagos is by boat.  That’s how Darwin did it after all. But today’s experience is much different from the uninhibited five  weeks that Darwin spent exploring the islands in the middle of his 5 year journey aboard The Beagle.  Travelers now explore the more remote islands only by fancy cruise ships, and are restricted to small visitor sites that prohibit off trail travel.
In fact, today’s naturalists would be appalled by the way Darwin explored the Galapagos.  Trampling around the islands he writes of riding giant tortoises and munching on sea turtles.  In his observations of marine iguanas, he would chase them to the shore, pick them up, and launch them into the sea, watching them swim rapidly back to the rocks.  He deems that their “fear” of the water was due to some aggressive sea predator, but it was later realized that marine iguanas need to reach a certain afternoon temperature before diving in.  He also writes of his companion’s experiments to see how long iguanas can survive underwater.  They tied it’s tail to a weight underwater, and an hour later, it was pulled to the surface, alive and healthy.
After a disappointing day tour to the island of Floreana, where more time was spent on the choppy crossing watching foreigners puke over the hull than actually onshore, I was convinced that doing a multi-day cruise would be worth the dollars.  United Statesans and Europeans will typically pay $3000 for an eight-day first-class, and all-inclusive guided cruise of the islands, not quite the price I was looking for.  Already on the main island of Santa Cruz, I capitalized on my unusual “more time than money” status.  I researched the boats, found out who was going where, and how many spaces were available.  I bypassed the agencies and went right to the owners.  Just 2 hours before Yolita II was about to cruise out of the harbor, I showed up, cash in hand with an amount far lower than what the owners were asking for a 4-day cruise.  Knowing that they weren’t going to otherwise fill up their empty cabins on such short notice, they let me hop aboard as long as I vowed not to reveal the price I was paying to the other passengers.  Hanging out for a week in Santa Cruz in the low-season with a guilt-free sense of bargaining…this was the poor man’s ticket to a cruise in the Galapagos.
Yolita II is a small first-class cruise boat, hosting 16 passengers and 10 crew.  Not having been on a cruise boat before, I was shocked by what we were given.  My own room, air-conditioning, private bath with hot water, these were far better conditions than I was used to on land.  The other passengers were good fun, and the food was the best I had in eight months.  Each day, we would boat to two new islands and do some of the best snorkeling in the world.  In just 30 minutes of snorkeling off the coast of Sombrero Chino we encountered sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, manta rays, and diving penguins.  This was the good life…unfortunately it was just 4 days.
A pirate is someone who steals merchandise from a boat right? In my nine months of travel, this would be my first robbery.  On my last night I realized that my sim card was missing from my cell phone.  Having used it just before departing, I knew it was stolen.  But who would steal a $5 sim card on a boat?  Later that evening, the bartender mysteriously asked if he could borrow my Motorola phone charger (how stupid could you be?).  I soon found out the bartender, who was on a short-term assignment, also cleans the rooms.  I searched the bar and there it was, my sim card.  The captain and I confronted him about stealing it, and though the liar never confessed, I am convinced that I had just met my first pirate.
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