Friday, June 5, 2009

Darwin Center and Tortoise - May 1

A short panga ride to the town's pier followed by a 40 minute bus ride put us in the highlands. We stopper to see "The Twins," side-by-side magma chambers where the roofs had collapsed and left the towl massive craters.

Down the road, a magma tunnel was, as one traveler put it, "something right out of Indiana Jones," where you were expecting the giant stone ball to come rolling through at any moment.

A few minutes from here, we visited a finca that had one of the most accessable populations of Giant Tortoise. Our first encounter was with a large male, slowly moving through the woodlands while stopping occationally to graze on guava fruit on the ground. Truly impressive!

The tourist welcome center was tasteful and offered icecream and some gift itiems.

In the afternoon, we stopped at the Darwin Research Cenater and saw many totoises includint the very famous "Lonesome George," last of his subspecies. The young tortoises were very cute, the giants (old ones) impressive in their size, lumbering behavior, and pre-historic appearance. Wonderful to see an animal that so defines the work that Darwin did and that so captured my immagination since I was a child.

Sam and I did some gift shopping in Puerto Ayora; many nice shops. The highlight was the open-air fish market with the sea lions entertaining us and others, including the locals.

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