This morning dawned sunny and calm and for those who were up to watch the sunrise, the clouds looked like wisps of pink cotton candy. We had a hearty breakfast, and then all boarded the Zodiacs with our naturalists for a cruise into the harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a town of about 8-10,000 inhabitants. That doesn’t include the hundreds of sea lions that are draped and snoozing on the town’s fishing boats, barges, benches and docks!
We spent the morning in the highlands among dozens of tortoises of all sizes. Their shells were noticeably arched and different from the smooth domed shelled tortoises we saw in the highlands of Santa Cruz yesterday. The early whalers, sailors, and settlers ate the wild tortoises of San Cristobal; the national park is now raising them in semi-natural enclosures and releasing them back into the wild. We were thrilled to see them striding along, feeding, resting, aggressively displaying when two big males came together, and soaking in a pool. One determined tortoise paraded past us down the center of the trail and we moved aside so it could continue on it slow but steady way. We took many pictures!
After a splendid traditional Ecuadorian buffet lunch, and our well-deserved siesta, naturalist Benjamin Ayala, who was born in this town, gave an inspired talk about the history of San Cristobal and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Then we headed by Zodiac to the main town dock. We followed a path with boardwalk and stairs and climbed to the top of Frigate Hill for a view over the bay where HMS Beagle anchored with Charles Darwin on board, over 180 years ago.