Galápagos – Floreana, Santa Cruz – Dragon Hill

Floreana is best known for its colourful history of buccaneers, whalers, convicts and early colonists. In fact our guide told us the most horrible stories of intrigues, mass murder and strange colonists…Hard to believe, but in fact the stories are true. At least three books were written about this, and I bought and read the one Juan preferred: The Galápagos Affair by John Treherne.

Galapagos 3 and 4 580_copyI really loved the Palo Santo trees. They seem to cover the whole island, making it look very arid – but also very beautiful, sculptural and silver shimmering.

Galapagos 3 and 4 654_copyThe shore line is very jagged, and even here the Palo Santo rules.

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The beach is full of shells and not that pleasant to walk on, but in the waters you will find Brown Pelicans swimming and diving, Blue Footed Boobies and also…

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…the endemic Galápagos Penguin, a smooth swimmer in the bay. Further inland, along the paths, we surprisingly found more colours – astonishing!

Galapagos 3 and 4 596_copyThe volcano has been long extinct, and is now eroding, supporting the vegetation with important nutrients.

Galapagos 3 and 4 609_copyThe Palo Santo would be all green in a couple of weeks…according to Juan, our guide. I loved these silvery trees, but it would be a dream to visit when they are green as well. Mimosa grows here too – just imagine everything here green and yellow!

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We had to stop at Post Office Bay, where whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in 1793. In fact the first post office in Ecuador. Here, the outbound ships would drop off letters and returning ships would pick them up and mail them. In fact people still do! Tourist ships let their passengers post letters and cards, and then bring home the mail possible to hand over when in your home country. We brought home one letter to a family on Gotland.

Next post will be the last one from these enigmatic islands: Santiago and Genovesa.

Annonser

Landscapes of the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are of volcanic origin, and situated in the Pacific Ocean, about 100km east of mainland Ecuador. There are 19 larger islands, 42 islets and and numerous emerging rocks. Five of the islands are inhabited, and the population is around 25000.

Last December, we got the opportunity to visit 10 of these islands, and M/S Cachalote was our home for 8 days. I have posted about our journey on my blog Leya, so now I also want to show you some of the magnificent landscapes out here in the archipelago.

Let us start with Santa Cruz, where the giant tortoises live in the wild of the lush highlands. This island is the most populated island and Puerto Ayora a most charming town.

The islands are known for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, as his observations and collections contributed to his theory of evolution by natural selection. The Charles Darwin Station has a Giant Tortoise and a Land Iguana breeding program, and also a program for saving the Mangrove Finch.

Next stop was two tiny islands uplifted from the sea – Islas Plazas. Here the landscape is rather flat, and the tall opuntias are impressive. The ground is covered in carpet weed, portulaca, castela and grabowskia. Iguanas eat opuntias and portulaca.

On the beach the big male rules his hareem of ladies…but there was also a Sea Lion bachelor colony where the young males slept lazily in the sun, only giving us a brief one eye glimpse…saying: ”not interesting at all”…

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More sunbathing – this giant male of Marine Iguana was really impressive. He had found a spectacular place to show off his dominance.

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Endemic species everywhere – and the next stop, Santa Fé, one of the smaller, older islands, is no exception.  Here the trail is steep and uneven, and you are surrounded by tall Opuntias, Palo Santo, salt bush, yellow cordia, thorn shrub and more. Mocking birds are different on each island, just like the lava lizards. The Galapagos Hawk was vigilant, but did not bother about us wanting him to lift and spread his wings.

After one more interesting day, we returned to Cachalote, patiently waiting in the lagoon. The crew taking care of us as if we were their children…

I wonder what tonight´s dinner will bring?

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Ziga, Baztan – Natural, Yet Sophisticated

In Navarra, Spain, there is a green valley of rolling hills where I left a piece of my heart.

We stayed a couple of days at Casa rural Zigako Etxezuria.

Everything here so neat and clean, rustic and authentic. Our hosts were genuinely kind and helpful with everything from sightseeing to choosing the right thing from the menu.The gastronomic traditions of Navarre makes eating a social event and all products come from the local farmers. Furthermore, Chefs from Navarre are among the most prestigious in the world of Nouvelle Cuisine.

After a delicious meal, it is time for a walk through the charming little village!

Navarra region is one of the regions with the highest quality of life indicators in Spain. And one of the greatest joys for me was all the farm animals – so many horses, cows, sheep, cats, dogs, hens and donkeys – and they were all well kept. Although some cats seemed to lead a rough life…

The last evening I had some difficulty in handling my feelings. Ziga and all its inhabitants had gone straight to my heart. I could live and die here. So I went out in the misty night to think.

Of all the places I have been to during my travelling years, I guess Ziga in Baztan, Navarre is the one that reminds me the most of my childhood at my grandmother’s and grandfather’s. All the animals I grew up with and the kindness and authenticity of the people. The landscape is of course even more beautiful here among the green hills, but still…

In the morning I waited for him to say goodbye…but I knew he would not come. I am glad we once met.

He Discovered Me – Love at First Sight

In the little village of Ziga,  Navarra, Spain, I met him.

He discovered me already the first day at the hotel door.

Our eyes met, and it was instant Love, and it was mutual.

”Follow me”, he said, and I do not know who followed who that short day…

He led the way at an elegant, fleeting pace, played around with this little boy, and then …

…inspected many interesting smells along the road. But still keeping an eye on me.

I noticed his red necklace and was happy that he surely had an owner. An owner who cared for his well being –

Because obviously he was well nourished – greatly loved by someone, someone more than me…

I kept telling him how handsome he was – and he liked it. I gently touched his ears and face, and he jumped up on the stone fences and posed for me – like a Best in Show dog…

As both he and I knew the tour was coming to an end, I just had to take a close-up photo – and he gladly let me do it. (My own dog at home never does… )Then he jumped up and posed for me one last time. He secretly flashed his lovely brown eyes, puffed my hand from behind – and was gone.

I looked for him the next day, and when we were leaving, but never saw him again during our stay in Ziga village. He is forever in my heart.