We got up at the crack of dawn to eat our last meal aboard the boat. We had to get going if we were going to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station before it was time to go to the airport. Sadly the research station - supposedly one of the Galapagos highlights wasn't very impressive. They are in the process of rebuilding a fair bit of it - so probably in a year or two it will be worth visiting again. But seeing the tortoises in yet more cadges wasn't nearly as much fun as our visit to the tortoise preserve where we got to see them in the wild a week ago.
They have some tortoises here that are "cross breeds" - tortoises that farmers cross bred before the ecologist took over and started trying to repopulate the islands with the "pure" native strains of tortoise. These cross breeds aren't allowed into the wild as they would "mess up" the pure population efforts. Seems to us that the scientists efforts to repopulate are fraught with genetic peril because they have one tortoise male, and 5 or 6 females repopulating thousands of tortoises of the "pure" variety. So the cross breeds (ironically) are probably actually stronger at long term survival. Go figure. This guy is named "Super Diego" and has fathered thousands of repopulated tortoises.
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson
The other thing we saw at the station was a land iguana. We didn't see any in the wild because (1) for the most part the Galapagos Park officials won't let tourists walk far enough inland to where they live, and (2) they are endangered from the giant rats that eat their eggs. The rats aren't native, having come on board ships that landed at the islands in years past.
Photo courtesy Mike Sanderson
Then we were off to the airport for the flights back to Lima. When we got to Lima and were clearing immigration, the natives would just cut in front - jumping the lines set out to keep people in order. Melissa didn't take very kindly to this and tried to restore order and things settled down a bit - at least enough for us to finally make it to the front of the line. We've seen a fair bit of this behavior in both Peru and Ecuador - where the locals seem to think its ok to just push and shove their way to the front.
When we got to the hotel in Lima (H Manhattan) it was late. This was the same hotel we had stayed at previously. We were not very happy with it before, but Mike had left a really nice hat at the hotel in Ollantaymbo, and they had promised to mail it to this hotel. When we were here 10 days ago, the clerk told us that yes, the package was on the way and would be here by the time we got back for our second stay. So we were not able to change the hotel and stay somewhere else. Unfortunately, the package was not there when we arrived. We pitched a fair fit as you might imagine. Basically the hotel had every excuse in the book why this was not their fault. And in the end, it was determined that it was going to cost $140 to have them forward it to Panama. Sigh.