charles darwin research centre

2.28.2010

Our first stop, during our trip to the Galápagos Islands, was to the Charles Darwin Research Station. We set out in hopes of seeing some giant tortoises.


We met 'Lonesome George', who is approximately 60-90 years of age and he is not into the ladies. George, a Pinta Island tortoise, was found in the 70's is considered to be the rarest creature in the world. Since there are no other tortoises of his kind, the research station has been trying to breed him with two female tortoises of different subspecies - but it's just not happening.

The main objective of the research station is the conservation of Galápagos terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The tortoise breeding that is conducted there is an example of this.

After walking through some muddy terrain and spotting Lonesome George from afar, we were stopped by this guy:



He didn't seem to want to interrupt our walk and got out of the way:













If you're interested in donating to the Charles Darwin Research Foundation, you can do so here.

the galápagos islands

2.27.2010


Our adventures in the Galápagos Islands started with a short flight from Guayaquil. The following photo, taken through a scratched airplane window during the landing, doesn't do justice to the brilliant aquamarine colour of the water. It was unlike anything we had ever seen.

The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of 15 volcanic islands located off the coast of Ecuador. To visit you need to pay a park fee and adhere to a series of rules (cleaning your shoes when transiting between islands, among other things). Although it's possible to take a cruise to the Galápagos, we chose to fly to the island and visit them independently. San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz are two of the more popular islands and both have rudimentary airports.

The airport for Santa Cruz is actually located on the island of Baltra (pictured below on the map). A free bus from the airport takes you to a ferry bound for Santa Cruz Island. Eighty cents and 2 minutes later, the ferry had shuttled us across the canal separating the two islands.


The trip across the canal gave us our first glimpse of the amazing landscape. We were treated to a view of lush green vegetation, black volcanic rock, and, up-close, the turquoise water was even more vivid than it was from up in the sky.

courtyard

2.26.2010

While in San Salvador, we discovered a Courtyard, by Marriott. It was brand new and we loved the great service, amenities and clean suites. On the days that it rained, we hung around indoors. Here are a few photos from around the hotel:




The heated, roof-top pool and a gym with the amazing view had us wishing we lived in the hotel.





malecón 2000

2.24.2010


Besides being a gateway to the Galapagos Islands, Guayaquil is also the major port of the Guayas River. Despite sounding like a robot from a bad 60's sci-fi movie, the Malecón 2000 is an extensive boardwalk built along the river, featuring shopping malls, museums, and other attractions.






Guayaquil isn't normally on the tourist radar, it usually gets skipped in favour of Quito, but the boardwalk, parks, and restaurants make the city interesting enough to explore for a few days.

asia de cuba

2.22.2010


We celebrated Mina's birthday in Guayaquil. As mentioned earlier, there was a strong Asian influence in Guayaquil so we chose a restaurant called Asia de Cuba for the 'festivities'. We noticed that people in Mexico, Central America, and South America eat dinner a lot later than us North Americans, so, often, we were the only people in the restaurants. It was kind of nice. The food was excellent - really fresh, and well prepared. The innovative menu offers several dishes from all over the world from salmon ceviche to sushi to steak. The restaurant housed brightly colored decor and furnishing and it was nice to get out of our beach attire, get dressed up and have a proper meal in a trendy restaurant. We finished the night off with 4 different flavors of crème brûlée - our favorite dessert.

- Alex





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