• Day5

    Santa Cruz

    July 3, 2019 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Fun and full day! We spent the day in the 2nd largest island in the archipelago. It also has the largest human population with over 25,000. Our group's naturalist, Benjamin, took us to the Tortoise Breeding Center and gave us a tour of the facility with more than 1200 tortoises bred to re-populate the waning populations on the islands. Each island has it's own species of tortoise however, so breeding is island specific.
    From there we had about an hour of free time to walk back to town and check out the souvenir shops - typical redundant chotchkes but still fun to look.
    We then joined the half of the group who chose to go to a coffee/sugar cane farm about a 1/2 hour away (the other half went to a private school supported by Lindblad). On the way, we stopped at a lava tube (common in volcanic islands) and walked down into the tube - about 100 yards. Once we came up we got to try fresh off the tree bananas, and they were excellent!
    The coffee and sugar cane farm was called 'El Trapiche'. We got to see how sugar cane is squeezed to produce a liquid and how that liquid is turned into molassas, brown sugar or moonshine. There were tastes of everything including moonshine that we let Jace taste (luckily, not a fan!) Between that, the sugar, and ultimately coffee tasting, I'm sure we were not in the running for best parents of the year! We all enjoyed the farm alot. We learned about coffee production. Ecuador is known to make some of the world's best coffee. Our naturalist for this portion of the day was Jonathan and he actually has his own coffee farm in San Cristobal. He was able to teach us a lot. Not an easy process, growing coffee, but apparently lucrative!
    We met up with the rest of our fellow travelers at 'Rancho Manzanillo' in the highlands for a good buffet lunch. The huge tortoises were everywhere and we got to check them out in there habitat. They gave us tall boots to wear there since, apparently, they have fire ants in the area. Luckily noone met up with any. We got our obligatory UofM family picture with a tortoise.
    We got back in town at 4:30 and walked around checking our more shops until 6. (Cooper bought a stuffed animal hammerhead shark (for $2!) and Addey got a swim shirt).
    We took the zodiac back to the boat and got ready for dinner. We had dinner with a couple from southern California along with one of the naturalists and the expedition videographer.
    After dinner, we got to listen to a wonderful local musician group and watch dancers - both the official and unofficial ones! Addey and another little boy were dancing up a storm and entertaining everyone! Ken and I even were pulled up to dance a couple of times by the official dancers. It was a fun night. Jace and Cooper missed the entertainment since they were tired and went to sleep early.
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