Our Galapagos cruise itinerary this morning takes us to a real Galapagos city. We will finally see people, houses, streets… living it out the Galapagos way.
The city is clean, the people friendly, used to tourism groups strolling about town. The standard of living here, thanks to tourism and heavy importation from the mainland, is actually much higher than that of mainland Ecuador. You may get to notice this if you walk into a neighborhood store, which you will have the opportunity to do after a visit to a giant tortoise research center where Lonesome George is said to live.
He’s the highlight of the zoo-like environment set up around him, but you can also see the miniscule baby tortoises and marvel at the fact that they will grow over 500% their weight at birth. Lonesome George, on the other hand, is very large and heavy, a seemingly lazy creature who shares his recreated natural setting with one or two female friends. Since he is the last of his kind, researches are hoping to pass on his unique genetic construction down with his closest relatives.
The research station is a great opportunity to be spend time with giant tortoises. And what differentiates this place to a zoo is the fact that there is nothing separating you from the animals. You can come up to them and take as many pictures as you like (one particular favorite is to kneel next to a giant tortoise for scale).
At the town, you will find small galleries, souvenir shops, hotels, grocery stores… nothing special, unless you think that being 1000 miles off shore in small, volcanic islands a bizarre place to see humans. The Galapagos Islands are one of the last places on Earth colonized by people.