September 21, 2007
As laid back as I thought Puerto Ayora was, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno was even more so. The capital of the Galapagos province of Ecuador was among the first places to be colonized in the mid-1800's, and to this day it remains small and more geared toward fishing than tourism. I found it easy to hang around the main port and watch the fishermen and sea lions go about their daily activities for hours.
Near town was a deserted beach called the "loberia." Judging by its name, I figured it would be full of sea lions, but I only saw a few. I had seen ten times as many on beaches during my cruise, so I thought it was an odd choice of names.
This afternoon I rented some snorkeling gear and went to several places nearby. Once again, there were lots of fish and sea lions to play with under the water. Nobody else was around so I had to make up my own places to get into the water, navigating over the slippery rocks that covered the waterfront. The water was cold, and with no wet suite, I found myself happy to switch locations so frequently.
I also took a walk down to the Interpretation Center, which was an educational place similar to the CDRC of Santa Cruz Island. The Interpretation Center had lots of info on display about the history of the Galapagos, including their accidental discovery in the early 16th century, the pirates that used to hide out there after robbing ships on the mainland, the whalers of the 19th century, and the prison colony that was built here over one hundred years ago. The human history of the Galapagos was as interesting as the current wildlife scene.
There was also a lot of information about conserving the natural environment here. Everywhere I go, I see signs urging the local people to use less water, recycle their garbage, and not allow their pets to roam freely. The government seems to be putting forth a major effort to protect the islands, but as I was walking into the Interpretation Center, I saw a stray cat standing outside. This example seems typical of what happens on all of the islands. I still don't think the local people appreciate the unique place they live in. The towns are cleaner than on the mainland, but with so many farms and stray animals, I wonder if the fragile ecosystem here can survive indefinitely.