Captain’s Log April 10 to 24 – The Galapagos
About the Galapagos
Far out in the Pacific, 500 miles west of Ecuador, the low domed peaks of massive shield volcanoes rise from the depths. Here they break the surface as the thirteen (main) islands of the Galapagos. They are the product of one of the most active geological regions on the earth, a place where the Cocos Plate and the Nazca Plate meet at the Galapagos and Carnegie Ridges. Here the earth’s mantle is very thin, allowing huge calderas to form and break the surface as eruptions: in the last 200 years there have been 60 eruptions. When visiting the islands you can see massive lava flows, vent tubes, unbelievably intricate and interesting formations of lava as it solidified when it met the ocean and was then, over the centuries, covered in flora such as lichens, moss or other plants. The Islands of Isabela and Santa Cruz bear witness to incredibly violent para-plastic eruptions as boulders and rocks of all size litter hundreds of square miles of landscape. Meanwhile the sun beats down with a fierce intensity. There is no fresh water anywhere, only the briny sea fed by several ocean currents that converge here. From the south flows the cold Humboldt Current, bringing nourishment from the Antarctic and the ocean’s depths; from the east, the warm Panamanian Current bringing life from Central America.
97% of the islands are part of the Parque Nacional de Galapagos, a UNICEF World Heritage Site and part of the country of Ecuador.
Entering the Galapagos
Entering the Galapagos Islands with a boat requires a cruising permit, a wad of cash, and a fair amount of patience. In preparing for our trip to this port we had done a reasonable amount of research and preparation. We were warned by other boaters that the bottom of our boat would be inspected for marine growth when we arrive in the Galapagos, so we had the bottom cleaned in Panama and pictures taken of it. We were told stories of boats deemed to have excess marine growth on their hulls being forced to travel 70 miles off shore with a park service diver to clean them at a cost of $500. We were also told that we needed to have Argo fumigated and obtain a certificate from a licensed company showing the chemical used. We did this too, although the company only gave us an official looking paper, charged $100, but never actually fumigated our boat; they said it wasn’t necessary. We also read a long list of plants and foods that couldn’t be taken to the islands. All of this is understandable when you consider the environmental damage done to the Great Lakes by foreign ships entering without restriction, so we entered ready to comply with any demand.
About twenty miles offshore we were hailed by name by the park service on VHF channel 16. The man didn’t speak much English, but Tyler speaks Spanish and between the three of us we managed to find out that he was instructing us to go to the wrong port. This was a little disconcerting to me, but after being persistent, we were authorized to follow the correct heading and course and make our way into Puerto Ayora. Our first sight of the Galapagos was of Santa Cruz Island. Just as Darwin noted in 1835 the island was shrouded in clouds. As we came closer, we could make out the arid, rocky, lava laced shoreline. We nervously groped our way toward Puerto Ayora as our charts were not very detailed. Eventually we saw the harbor and pointed Argo toward other ships at anchor. It is a crowded harbor with no breakwater. There were two or three small freighters offloading onto barges. There were about ten sail boats and catamarans at anchor. We were the largest yacht for most of the time we were there. The other twenty or so boats were tour boats waiting for this week’s plane load of tourists to arrive from Guayaquil. Swells roll in directly off the ocean. Boats at anchor constantly pitch up and down and roll around despite being very close to each other. As we gingerly picked our way between the boats and their fore and aft anchor lines we found an empty mooring ball and tied to it. Later we deployed a stern anchor to hold us into the swell, put out our stabilizers, and dropped our forward anchor in case the mooring ball failed (often mooring balls fail because they are not properly maintained). A few moments after we were secure, we called our agent and he arranged for the commencement of entry formalities.
To stay in the Galapagos one needs a cruising permit that can only be obtained through the Capitanea de Puerto at a port of entry. There are effectively two ports of entry into the Galapagos; Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and San Cristobal on San Cristobal Island. The length of stay is at the discretion of the port captain, but cannot exceed 21 days without a visa. If a visa is desired, one must apply three months in advance of the visit. To get a cruising permit, the port captain together with a National Parks official, a police officer, an immigration officer, a health inspector, and a diver all visit to inspect the boat. Since hardly any officials speak English, we hired an agent to help us through the formalities. All the officials came to our boat shortly after we anchored in Puerto Ayora and completed all their inspections in about two hours. While on board they looked through all the compartments, took pictures of our black water tank and our soap dispensers, read our trash policy, looked around the engine room, checked out our refrigerator, and, as a special request, the Port Captain asked if we would take his picture while he stood next to our helm and wooden wheel. He said he never saw a pilot house like ours nor had he seen a wooden helm. So we were happy to comply. Meanwhile a diver came to the boat and inspected our hull. After all the official business was conducted, pictures taken and departing pleasantries exchanged, the bill was presented; $2,183 for a 21 day permit. If we wanted to travel to other islands via our boat, we would need a guide and a ranger. This would cost about $1,500 per day including permits. Later, in talking with other boaters, we found out that one of the boats had no black water tank and dumped sewage directly overboard (frankly, I didn’t know any boat was built or allowed to do that.) They showed the officials a water tank and he took pictures of that. More importantly, when we went ashore we found that the city dumped their sewage directly into the bay. So much for all the inspections.
While all the officials were on board we received a call on our VHF. A 52 foot Oyster sailboat from the U.S.A was calling. They had left Costa Rica eight days before with four adults and two children aboard. They motored all the way to The Galapagos and arrived with hardly any food or water left and only a few gallons of fuel. They were desparate. We heard them call Ricardo, our agent, for help in getting a cruising permit, but he told them he was too busy to help them. Unfortunately they were technically not allowed ashore until they had a permit and cleared customs. Apparently they saw the inspection party come aboard Argo and our American flag off the stern and decided to call us to see if we could help them get the inspection party to relent and come to their boat. Off course we asked Ricardo and he agreed. Later they brought a bottle of Johnnie Jameson over as a token of their gratitude. Really nice and completely unnecessary, but particularly in light of the absence of any water or nourishment on their boat! In talking with them later, we found out that these Californians had planned to cross the Pacific just as we were doing, but I think they realized that they were not properly prepared or had insufficient experience to continue on such an ambitious journey. A few days later they pulled up their anchor and headed back to Costa Rica.
Puerto Ayora is the tourist capital of the Galapagos. The little town has about 3,000 permanent residents, a substantial commercial area, many restaurants and shops, and the Darwin Center. We anchored Argo here for about two weeks and toured several islands by plane and stayed in local hotels. We were very excited because our daughter, Kathryn, was flying in for a week to visit and tour the islands with us.
The harbor was always rolling with ocean swells and Argo was in constant state of motion. Sometimes it was very rocky, and it was always very annoying. To get off the boat and into town we called a water taxi on VHF 14 and asked for a pick up. The fare was 60 cents per person each way. The taxi dropped us at a municipal dock especially constructed for the purpose. Sometimes customers had to step over a sea lion that was resting on the gangway, or it could be found lounging completely oblivious to passersby on a park bench on the upper walkway. A short walk past the skate board park brought us to Main Street, which was very nicely constructed of brick with wide sidewalks and newly planted trees to shade the weary walkers. The heat at midday was really intense, perhaps 100 degrees with equivalent humidity. It was almost unbearable, which I am sure is why siestas are popular. Most businesses opened from 9 AM to noon, then close and reopened at 3 PM and remained open until 8 or 9 PM. Many of the restaurants were quite acceptable and we enjoyed them frequently. Food shopping was fun; we went to the farmers market on two Saturdays and enjoyed the bounty of the highlands amidst all the sights, smells and cultural delights of a country market. At the waterfront we bought an 18 pound Yellow Fin Tuna for $2 a pound, a pretty good deal we thought considering Monahan’s Fish Market in Ann Arbor wants about $25 a pound. The local mercado offered the usual packaged goods, but it also had a very good bakery that we enjoyed on several occasions. On Good Friday we went into town for an ice cream cone and witnessed the Easter Passion Festival where hundreds of people followed the Way of the Cross complete with a Jesus dragging the cross along the route with costumed Roman soldiers and statues of several apostles carried aloft on the shoulders of devout believers. One evening we met our tour agent and she invited us Casa del Mar restaurant for a freshly caught Tuna and Wahoo dinner (someone also brought a little goat) with friends and the Uruguanians who caught them that day. The fish was perhaps the best I ever had, and the two Australians we met were very interesting people.
The harbor was a little cloudy because of all the algae in the water. It caused our water-maker filters to frequently clog. We had to make water because they do not offer any services for yachts in that harbor and we would need a permit to leave the harbor, even if it only to make water or empty our black water tanks. So, as we had a long trip ahead of us, I thought we better see if we could buy some 5 micron sea water filters. Our agent Ricardo Arenas directed us to Bodega Blanco, a boating supply store about ten blocks from the taxi dock. Rebecca and I decided to walk and even though it was only 9 AM it was already so hot that I was drenched by the time we got there. We found what we wanted and eventually talked to the owner, who spoke perfect English. He inquired about us and us about him; he grew up in L.A and his mother graduated from U of M in English! It is a small world.
Kathryn arrived and brought with her a few parts for Argo that we wanted, like a ten pound low pressure pump for the water maker. She enjoyed a day of rest from her 18 hour flight from NYC and then we started our tour of the islands. The first place we went was to The Charles Darwin Center on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. The institute raises various species tortoises for reintroduction on the appropriate islands. Many islands have distinct species of tortoises and after a little while you can tell them apart by their shells. Galapagos means saddle in Spanish. It was so named because the island’s discoverers thought some of the tortoise shells looked like saddles, and indeed some do. When Darwin arrived in 1835 there were an estimated 400,000 tortoises roaming about. By the early 1980’s there were only 3,000 left. At the center they have a hatchery and pens to raise the little ones until they can fend for themselves. They have no natural enemies aside from man, but as humans have released domestic animals that in time have become feral, these dogs, cats, pigs and goats eat the little tortoises or their forage. So, the idea is to raise tortoises in captivity until they are large enough to protect themselves from these predators. Officials have been conducting an eradication program for some time and with some success. The Institute also has a number of large enclosures in which are kept adult tortoises of various types. They are very interesting and really something to see, particularly when they are eating or mating. The Institute also has both marine iguanas and land iguanas, that latter of which is large and very colorful.
The next day we hopped a plane to the group’s largest island, Isabela. Here is what we saw the on the afternoon of our arrival:
- Wall of Tears, a huge wall built by prisoners from the rocks thrown out by the volcano thousands of years ago. The wall has a sort of hideous beauty; stone by stone piled one upon another by prisoners carrying them from distant places in searing heat. Surely many of them died, but living here would have been truly a hell on earth. The prison was built on the site of a W.W. II U.S. base. I believe the prison was closed in the late 60’s.
- Marine Iguanas: They look like octopi when they swim; they are pitch black and match the color of the lava rocks on which they cling. They have webbed feet and long claws; they spend their time going in the water to eat algae growing on the rocks, then back to shore to warm up, then back for more food, etc.
- Lava Vent: Next our guide took us for a hike along the rocky beach to climb down into a lava vent; very interesting.
- Vista: Next, a climb up a couple of hundred stairs to the top of a vent/hill to look over the vista of a volcanic island. Simply beautiful.
- Tortoise breeding center, just like the one we saw at The Charles Darwin Center. Then, back to our hotel.
Our hotel wasn’t too bad and was located in a shabby little town with dirt streets called Puerto Villamil. Every one of the 110,000 tourist that comes to the Galapagos annually will at some point probably find their way here. It does have a few hotels and several restaurants. The one restaurant we tried was horrible, although our hotel served very good food, particularly the ceviche, which was actually the best I ever had. Kathryn was full of energy and being from NYC wanted to “go out”, so down the beach we walked toward the place she heard was the best in town. Later we learned her recommendation came from the tour guide, and later yet we learned that his boss owned the place. Anyway he was probably right, it turned out to be lot of fun. It was a surf side bar complete with a sand volley ball court and, most interesting of all, a tight rope on which young beer drinkers tried their skills as wan’a-be Wollendas. We watched them through several drinks: please make mine another Coco-Loco!
The next day was packed with very interesting things. We were picked up early at the hotel and taken to the dock, then aboard a speed boat for an hour’s ride to an area I can only describe as “mind blowing”. It was truly “other worldly”, in that it was formed by lava flows frozen in the most interesting and bazar configurations both above and below water. Getting into the place required real local knowledge and skill; first we had to pass over the very large ten foot sea swells rolling in from the ocean and then maneuver between rock formations that broke the swells into surf, then around and through the maze of lava formations, all the time avoiding rocky outcroppings that could have easily broken the propellers. We landed and offloaded on a cliff that was five or six feet above the water line. Once we had climbed up the rocks onto a flat surface we could really appreciate why we were brought here. The pitch black lava formed arches and bridges in an endless maze that was interwoven with the brilliant blue water of the ocean creating small lagoons that sea turtles and sharks frequented during their matting season. It was fascinating to watch the sea turtles effortlessly glide, almost fly through the water. Blue-Footed Boobies were everywhere. When we first saw two of them standing together above a nesting site (a flat, black rock surface encircled by white bird poop) they just stood there and looked at us despite the fact that we were only a few feet from them. Like all the animals we encountered in the Galapagos, they are not afraid of human beings. The Boobies are a beautiful bird, words don’t really describe them. Their heads are covered in small, blue-brown-white feathers, their bodies are brown and white, yellow rimmed eyes, blue-grey beak, and of course the most distinguishing feature of all, powder blue webbed feet and legs. They are just spectacular, and when they go fishing, they form flocks and dive like arrows into the water after their prey.
After exploring the lava field we went snorkeling. Here we got to see the underwater world: many tropical reef fish as one might expect, just an arm’s length away sea turtles (huge 4 feet by 3 feet turtles) feeding on the algae growing on the rocks, Penguins ten feet away, Sea Lions playing and dashing adroitly through the water, Marine Iguanas, Frigate Birds, Boobies, and White and Black Tip Reef Sharks tending to their young ones in a cave. We were a little cautious around those things, although it was very interesting and exciting. Later as we headed back to the little town and our hotel, Kathryn dove with 12 foot Manta Rays in the open ocean; wow, what an experience!
The next day we visited another lava field, this one different than the other in that it looked like nothing I had ever seen on earth before. The lava was formed into twisted figures about three feet high and partially covered in white lichen. It looked like a field of strange outer space beings. Amidst all the little men were Marine Iguanas.
That afternoon we flew back to Santa Cruz. The flight was interesting in that we could see the rims of partially submerged extinct volcanoes rising out of the ocean as well as a vista of the entire western part of the island. After we landed we drove to the “highlands” for lunch at a coffee farm. The owners were the extended family of our tour operator. Apparently Ecuador never knew quite what to do with the Galapagos until UNICEF made it a World Heritage Site. Nothing much can be grown here commercially or mined. It is so hot agriculture cannot be sustained on a commercial basis, there is little soil, and there is little water. Many people tried to establish homesteads here and failed; the government used it for a prison colony for a time, but even that failed. During the 70’s Ecuador granted 200 acres to any citizen willing to make a homestead here. That’s how our friends got a hold of this farm land, but they couldn’t clear it all or maintain it so they gave 100 acres back to the government. Now, in light of tourism and the fact that 97% of the land is part of the Parque Nacional, land here is very expensive and almost impossible for an outsider to acquire. Immigration to these island is no longer permitted.
On the way to the farm we stopped by a lava tube buried deep in the hillside. It was at least 30 feet in diameter, much like a subway tunnel, but one that extended about 3,000 feet or more. Later we returned to the farm and walked about to see the tortoises living in their natural environment. There were many large old males and many smaller females walking laboriously about. It was the mating season. As we walked the paths in the lush jungle forest we could hear the grunting of the male as it was in the act of mating. We were told that it takes about four hours to complete their mission, meanwhile the beast grunts and extends his head several feet out of his shell. The 500 lb. male somehow climbs on top the female that is perhaps only 100 lbs. She seems to just sit and wait for the event to end. Meanwhile several other females were on standby nearby. Apparently these animals live up to 200 +/- years. We were told that females can hold the sperm of several males simultaneously for up to five years and release it into her eggs when conditions are right. Interestingly, they walk as far as twenty miles or more over rocky and inhospitable terrain to the beach to lay their eggs in the sand (like the sea turtles). It must be a primordial impulse, at any rate it is an incredible feat. After leaving the tortoises we drove back to Puerto Ayora, but along the way we stopped to see two very large sunken calderas and associated lava vents. These geological features exist at an altitude of 650 meters that supports and unusual forest of trees peculiar to the Galapagos on which hangs Spanish moss, the view of which was most interesting an unusual.
After returning to Argo, we needed to decide on a spot for dinner. Kathryn had heard from NYC friends that had recently been here that the “Deli” had the best fish and chips anywhere this side of London. So we tried it out together with our friends Javier and Jill, two lovely people that owned the tour company. Kathryn was absolutely correct; these were the great fish and chips!
The next day we set out for North Seymour Island and the land of the Frigate Birds. Once again we had to make the fifty mile trip across the island to Baltra and the boat dock that in this case would take us to North Seymour Island instead of the airport. We made the trip in a bus along with about forty other people, but since we had a private guide we were ushered along in a pleasant manner. From the boat dock we went by dingy to an old cabin cruiser. Inside was a captain in full dress whites with epaulets, and a heavy set, friendly cook in the galley making lunch for the twenty or so passengers. Our trip to the island took about an hour and during that time we had a surprisingly good sautéed Yellow Fin Tuna lunch. It was a lot of fun.
North Seymour Island is a flat slab of rock perhaps a mile square. It is about twenty-five feet above sea level and volcanic in origin. It is covered with a dwarf, grey-bark spindly tree that at the time we were there had no foliage. Whatever grass was there was brown and dried up, and Prickly-Pear Cactus trees, also unique to the island, punctuated the rocky landscape. It hadn’t rained in five months, but the rainy season was supposed to begin soon. In the branches of the trees were nests, some of which held hungry chicks. Neither the nests nor the chicks were small. These are pretty large birds. Mating was in the air literally as red pouched male Frigate Birds sailed overhead looking for a suitable place to inflate their mating equipment. As we walked along the path we saw several Land Iguanas with their oddly beautiful orangey-green-gold- tan coloration. They are much larger than their marine cousins.
We continued our walk through the strange pigmy forest looking for the male Frigate in full mating display. The males have a flaming red sack on their throat that they inflate to attract the females. We were able to get within a few feet of several of these birds and get some wonderful pictures. The birds themselves are much bigger than a pheasant but smaller than a turkey, and their red display is about the size of half a football. It is really something to see. We spent about two hours here and it was one of the most interesting animal adventures we have had.
On the way back the boat stopped at a beach used by turtles to lay their eggs. It was defined by black lava that spilled into the sea and solidified, the beach itself as white coral sand that rose broadly and steeply to a ridge one hundred or more yards above the water line. It was there we found the large concave bowls dug by the turtles and in which they deposited their eggs, but further on we came to a brackish pond just over the crest of the sand. There we could see a flamingo. We watched the beautiful bird feed on little shrimp, its long neck moving about to allow the angled black beak to sift through the mud on the pond’s bottom. Suddenly the magnificent bird started to run, its stick like legs and knees awkwardly gaining speed. Then it extended its wings and began to take off; its fabulous pink plumage accented by the black feathers under its wings that make the pink unbelievably brilliant. Then the awkwardness was transformed into graceful, effortless flight. On the beach were two Lava Gulls, the last of only two hundred known to exist. They too were magnificent: they look like a sea gull, but their coloration is very dark grey and black to match the color of lava. It was simply a spectacular sight to behold.
Our final Few days in the Galapagos
We returned to Argo on Friday late in the day. Kathryn was scheduled to go home on Sunday, so we had a day for her to rest and roam around Puerto Ayora. Saturday morning we all went to the farmer’s mercado, which was a lot of fun. It was hot even early in the morning. Kathryn wanted to order some Ecuadorian pastries like the one’s she had on Isabela – she’s a foodie! We spent a couple of hours at the internet store, about the only place you can get on line there, lunch and then dinner on the boat. We had a lovely visit and were, of course, sad to see her go as always.
After Kathryn departed it was time for us to arrange fueling and obtain our Zarpes. Each island in the Galapagos has a port and each port has a Port Captain. To enter or leave a port the boat captain must contact the Port Captain and apply for a Zarpe or clearance permission form. In the Galapagos this requires an agent, who in our case obtains a Zarpe allowing us to leave Porto Ayroa and travel 32 miles north to the Island of Baltra where the fuel docks are located. This costs $7.81 plus an agent’s fee. We also wanted to purchase fuel in Baltra, so the procedure here is that you have to tell the government officials how much fuel you want, pay for the fuel in advance in cash at a special office (or in our case we bought it through a fuel agent in the U.S. who arranged everything otherwise we would use our own local fuel agent). The fuel price is set each Thursday morning and holds for one week.
So Wednesday morning before departing for Baltra, we took a water taxi into Port Ayora and finished up our internet chores and picked up more fresh provisions. We met our agent Ricardo Arenas who gave us our Zarpe permitting us to move the boat to Baltra. Meanwhile Tyler was taking down our sun shades that cover the outer decks that help keep the boat cool. When I came back, we hauled in our flopper-stoppers, a passive stabilizing system that is supposed to help keep the boat stable in a rolling anchorage. When we finished all that and cleaned the lines that had been in the water for ten days, we called a water taxi to help us raise our stern anchor and untie from the mooring ball. Once all that was completed, we raised the anchor and began to make our way between the densely packed boats at anchor to open water and Baltra. It was a beautiful day.
Once out of the harbor, the vistas from Argo were simply fabulous. Santa Cruz Island is a volcanic island, as are all the islands of the Galapagos. The top of the volcano is shrouded in clouds, the mountain side gradually declines at five or ten degrees for the ten or fifteen miles to the sea. The upper part of the mountain is lush and green and the mist from the clouds is the only source of water on the island. The flora changes in type and density every few hundred meters until it gradually becomes arid near the sea. The coast is made up of lava rock for the most part, sometimes formed in cliffs, and sometimes in lava flows that ended in the sea, punctuated here and there by coral sand beaches that are the destinations of nesting sea turtles and land tortoises during the egg laying season. Off the coast are rock formations; these are the tops of volcanoes that once were above sea level during the ice ages, but now are partially submerged so that now only the un-eroded part of their cone remains in view. Along the way we saw sea turtles rising for air, and tuna jumping in schools. Galapagos Sea Lions dove and played along the way. Frigate Birds, some males with their red mating pouch visible although deflated, rode the air pressure wave above our boat and hung there for hours. Occasionally a Blue Footed Booby (everyone loves boobies) would come along, sometimes landing on our railings for a rest. This was maddening for Tyler, since the birds often made a mess and he is devoted to keeping Argo in Bristol condition.
Cruising around the Galapagos is somewhat dangerous as the charts are very sketchy and either don’t show hazards at all, or fail to show them at the right location. For example, the channel between two islands as drawn on the chart as wide open, yet in looking at it one could plainly see that it was obstructed by a rocky outcropping from the island. In another case, the chart showed a clear and navigable passage and I set our chart plotter and autopilot accordingly. After a couple of hours we could tell that we were headed into an unmarked ancient volcano top several acres in size! I was told by a local boat captain with whom I consulted before departing Baltra, that the charts used until the 1990’s were created by Captain FitzRoy of the HMS Beagle (the ship that brought Darwin to the Galapagos in 1835) and the current charts aren’t any better! About 1730 we arrived in Baltra and anchored for the night.
At 0800 the next morning we were called to the dock, but as our agent hadn’t arrived yet, they couldn’t start pumping fuel. It was a Thursday morning, so this created special problems because our agent had to pay for our fuel before we could load it, and the payment office opens in Puerto Ayora at 0800, but that is an hour’s drive away from Baltra. Once the agent arrived, he had to bring the port captain and the head of the police office aboard to inspect our yacht and fill out the same paperwork that we completed in Porto Ayora. This port captain is the one to grant the exit Zarpe, clearing us out of the Galapagos and to the Marquesas. Rebecca and I had to laugh as the uniformed port captain, complete with gold stripped epaulettes, carefully read with arms extended in the most officious manner the Zarpe from Port Ayora. He must have read a document like that a thousand times before, yet here he was meticulously examining every period and colon! We concluded that if you are going to be a government official, you have to be able to read the most mundane form as though it were unique and complicated and that its meaning can only be understood in its full complexity by an anointed one.
We needed to buy as much fuel as possible since we planned to leave Baltra directly for the Marquesas, 3,000 miles away. An expensive problem developed from the fact our fuel tank measuring system is very inaccurate; we have site gauges on each fuel tank, but they are not accurately calibrated and only provide an estimate of the fuel onboard. I ordered 1325 gallons, but as it turned out we could only take on 1125 gallons, so we paid for 200 gallons that we couldn’t put aboard and lost over $1,000 at the fuel price of $5.25/gal. I have never experienced a fueling procedure like the one in the Galapagos; in addition to being arcane, inefficient from a buyer’s perspective, and inconvenient, it seems, like many things here, designed to relieve Gringos of as much money as possible! So at noon we sucked it up and shoved off for the Isle Marquesas’. God help us (please)!