Friday, June 24, 2016

Seeing Marine Iguanas on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Marine Iguana and Me
Santa Cruz Island
When I arrived into the Galapagos Islands, it was gloomy and dark and drizzling. I saw cacti growing on the airport land. It was like a piece of Mexico broke off and drifted into the Equator.

But it wasn't like Mexico, either. The landscape looked like jungle, and desert, and mangroves and lava volcanoes, all mixed into one. In short, I arrived into the twilight zone, or bizarro world of nature. There's no ecosystem like the Galapagos.

Take for instance, the Galapagos is on Equator. It's in the Tropics. But, the weather is dark and gloomy, like Seattle or New Zealand. Whenever I've been to islands on the Tropics, it's hot and sunny, and dry and balmy.

After you arrive to the airport, you have to pay $100 USD as an entrance tax. You also pay $20 before you leave Quito, Ecuador airport. I wasn't too happy about this.

Upon arriving, a bus takes you to the port. You pay $1 USD to take a speed boat across to the main island. Then you have to pay $2-$5 to take a 45 minute drive into town.

I was struck by how dark and gloomy it was. I wanted sunshine, and like I said, it didn't feel like the Tropics - where the hot sun beats down on you, and the heat, makes you feel like you're in paradise. It's cold and dark and mysterious.

The reason for the unusual weather patterns in the Galapagos is because of the cold Humboldt Current. Usually, in the tropics, the currents are warm water currents.

But in the Galapagos, the cold current brings with it, cooler air. The hotter air sits on top. And as a result, there's permanent low hanging mists and clouds. In short, I don't like it that much. I like hot and sunny and warm.

If you didn't know, Charles Darwin made the Galapagos famous. But, really, it's all just a myth.

I found out that in Darwin's five year naturalist journey, he only spent 5 weeks in the Galapagos. Darwin also didn't come up with his theory of evolution on the Galapagos, as I was led to believe. His finches were not what gave him the facts to hypothesize on the evolution of species. (Darwin's Finches were named so, after he published his papers on evolution.) So, the story is all just a gimmick, to lure tourists.

That's not to say that I wasn't amazed or impressed by the marine iguanas. When I went to the beach, I'll never forget that I saw a black looking stick, oscillating as a snake in water. I thought, Is that going to be a marine iguana?

And when it came out of the beach, it was! I was so amazed and impressed. I couldn't believe I finally just saw one!

The thing looked so prehistoric and ancient! It looked like an ocean dragon. I was in awe of its spiky scales that lined its spine. If only the creature could be hundreds of feet large, it'd be the Leviathan the Scriptures spoke of.

Charles Darwin hated the lizards. He called them "imps," and thought they were ugly monsters. I disrespectfully have to disagree. They're quite fantastic and amazing to lay eyes on. There's nothing like them on earth. (I only wish they could spit out fire.)

The marine iguanas lined themselves on the beach, sunbathing. And no wonder. If you know anything about reptiles, they can't regulate their own body temperatures, as mammals and birds do. That's why they're cold blooded. Cold blooded means, they have to bathe in the sun, or go to a warmer area, to heat up their blood.

And why do they have to heat up their blood? Because they eat algae, or seaweed. (I eat seaweed too with my rice and sushi.) And to forage for seaweed, they have to dive in the cold water. (That's rather incredible, that such a creature can dive 9 meters or 30 feet. They can dive, the length of a three story apartment or house.)

Remember, the cold current? Water chills your blood over 100 times faster than air. So, after their dive, their blood turns cold - cold like the current water.

So after dining and bashing, they need to warm themselves up, or they'd fall into a stupor, sleep, and die.

They were just such amazing creatures. I couldn't help look at them for a very long time. Marine iguanas exist only one place in the world: The Galapagos.

Anyways, I'm here for awhile. The mainlanders in Ecuador told me it'd be really expensive. They were right.

I'm so lucky I had enough miles to buy my flight from Quito to the Islands. But, I feel like I'm trapped in Disneyland or something. The food prices, except for seafood, is really outrageous. For instance, a small can of Pringles Chips costs $3.15. One pound of tuna, however, only costs $3.00. I bought the tuna, not the Pringles.

I found a dingy hostel in the center of the village for $15 a night. It's nothing to brag about. It's really old and needs to be remodeled. But you can't beat the price. And I get my own room and bathroom.

Nonetheless, this isn't my favorite island. All the locals treat you like you're filthy rich, (when I'm far from being so,) and that they can extort you for as much money as possible, because every store is a small monopoly.

I've resorted to eating fish and rice and chicken and rice. I gotta make every penny count. Otherwise, I'll have no savings left upon my return.


  1. Paul, I am concerned for your health. Are you eating right? It looks like you have lost most of your muscle mass.

  2. Oh, thanks for being concerned. Yes, I probably should've done more research before coming here. The prices are incredible here.

    But, I found a French group, who feed me from time to time, as long as I tell them stories. They also teach me French. I feel like an American orphan, amongst the French.

  3. Those prices sound like being back in NZ, except cheaper tuna! :D