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  • Day2

    To the actual Galapagos

    June 30, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Had a buffet breakfast in the courtyard and were transferred back to the airport at 6:45am. Flight for San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos (population 10,000 - humans that is) left at 8:30am. Had access to the Guayaquil airport lounge (Priority Pass thanks to our Chase Visa) but only had about 1 minute to grab anything before we were boarding. Flight was easy and short, 1.5 hours. We boarded a bus for a 5 minute ride to the waterfront and had 1 hr to walk around. Not much to see of the town where we were but already got to see tons of crabs, a few pelicans and plenty of sea lions (who, for the record, are way smellier and obnoxious sounding - imagine loud guttural burps -than I would have imagined). We found several sea lion pups nursing too.
    We were taken, by Zodiac to our floating home - The National Geographic Islander where we got settled in to our cabins (303 and 305). Rooms are nice and, for a cruise ship, plenty big. Bathrooms, of course, are tiny.
    We joined in the lounge for a welcome drink, snacks and orientation. There are 47 people on the boat. It looks like at least a few families with kids around our kid’s ages (ages 7 to 14). Everyone we’ve met has been super friendly so far. No families from Michigan that we’ve met yet but a few from Chicago, and families from Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Texas and Mexico.
    We had a life jacket drill and then had a little time to explore the boat. There’s a ‘gym’ with weights and 3 fitness machines and a ‘library’ - essentially a shelf of books in a hallway (where you can learn all you ever wanted to know about Darwin!)
    We had a buffet lunch in the dining room which had food for all of us. Jace is definitely the pickiest of us all, so we will see how that goes. He has committed to the goal of trying a new soup daily (of course stipulations were established quickly!) Today, asparagus soup and he ate the whole bowl!
    We went back to the rooms to rest. For me, a nap was in order. Kids and Ken played cards.
    At 2:30 we had a looong orientation about what our afternoon excursion would be and general details about how the excursions are run and Galapagos rules. We learned that the Galapagos are both a natural park as well as a province of Ecuador.
    Afterwards, we disembarked onto the Zodiac and went back into San Cristobal. No more than 16 people can be in each excursion group and these are all led by naturalists. We took a short walk and then a shorter bus ride to the National Park Interpretation Center (though the only thing there that fit that description was a map on the wall of the islands). Our naturalist, Vanessa, guided us on a fairly easy 1.5 mile round trip walk to "Frigate Hill." We saw frigate birds, Galapagos finches, Ani birds, San Cristobal mocking birds and plenty of tiny lava lizards. Kids loved that!
    They gave the kids 'explorer notebooks'. They get points for completing tasks in the notebook and if they get 100, they will get a prize at the end of the week. Cooper was all over this task and Jace, though initially resistant, decided it was not too immature to join in too. Pretty sure they both have 100 points already!
    We got back to the boat at 6p and had a welcome reception at 7 in the lounge. Staff made introductions (very impressive staff so far!) We had dinner at 7:30p. Meals appear to be all buffet. Good food tonight. Dining room is open seating so it forced us to split up (yes, Julie, your worst nightmare!) Addey, of course has made a fast friend with a 7.5 year old from South Dakota - Claudia - so she ate with her family. Hah! Cooper and I sat with 2 Jewish couples who Ken and I have gravitated to a bit - both in their 60s from Chicago (1 couple both went to UofM) and very friendly. Ken and Jace ate with another set of grandparents here with their 10 year old grandson.
    And that's a wrap on day 1! Now time to cruise...
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