My Galapagos Family and Other Animals

We have been living in the Galápagos for a month. We lived in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Island, which has a lovely harbour and promenade called the Malecon where we would see hundreds of sea-lions, pelicans, boobies, crabs and iguanas every day.

Spot the sealion, iguana and crab happy together at the harbour in San Cristobal

Spot the sea-lion, iguana and crab basking together  at the harbour in San Cristobal

Amazing creatures in San Crsitobal - a baby sealion, giant tortoise, blue footed boobie and iguana

Amazing creatures in San Cristobal – a baby sea-lion, giant tortoise, blue footed boobie and iguana

I went to the Alejandro Alvear school. I made some good friends there…My best friend in the Galápagos was Juan – he was really nice. He’s learning English, I talk mostly in Spanish, I’m ok but not fluent, sometimes its hard to communicate but I can always find a way around it and he tries to use English.

Juan came over most days after school, sometimes Oswaldo, sometimes Alan and Samuel, Matteo and Antony…

With Juan, Oswaldo and Lara at our house

With Juan, Oswaldo and Lara at our house

We played loads of games, mostly over the road where there’s a garage and loads of old tyres. One day Alan picked up an oil can and asked me in Spanish to give him my lighter but me and Juan explained that might not be such a good idea!! A few times Zoe and Lara came over with us, one day Zoe grabbed a tyre and rolled it down the hill, then the boys did too and we had to chase them!

I got a cap gun for $1.50 but it never worked! But the caps did explode and make a bang and some smoke. We played with pistols. Oswaldo’s did shoot real pellets. I had a weird drink called a Pony Malta, a bottled drink made with prawns that’s meant to taste like beer – it was disgusting! But the boys drank it and then we stood the empty bottle up on a bin on a stool and shot it down with the gun or knocked it down with my football!

I found a tiny lizard which Lola, who was next door and owned our apartment, told me was a lava lizard because of the stripes on its tail! I looked after him for a few days and fed him water and flies but then let him go.

My tiny Lava lizard

My tiny Lava lizard

We also went off on or own around town to play or buy something or down to the Malecon – it’s a small town and very safe and everyone knows everyone and looks after each other. It’s a good town and there are nice people and everyone says ‘Hola Benjamin’ (pronounced ‘Ben-ha-min’) though I don’t really like it!

School started at 7 in the morning and finished at 12.30. My teacher was really nice. They don’t actually teach English though, they teach American! In the computer lessons, I sometimes saw my Dad because he was fixing up all the computers and helping out! We don’t do much and when the teacher isn’t looking you play a game like solitaire (solitario) or suduko. Most of the other lessons – Maths, Social Studies and Lengua y Literatura were hard to follow and make me feel quite tired!

We got two breaks, there is a tuck shop selling chips, jelly, drinks, chewing gum, bubble gum and ice pops! So I’d get something to eat and we’d play dodge ball, called Conhelados!

After school I would go for lunch somewhere with my family. We usually went to the Malecon – where there are shops, cafes, restaurants, playgrounds and lots and lots of sea-lions! They amble around and lie on the small beaches and they also come up on the pavements and walkways, sit on the benches meant for humans and lie under cars! Their favourite place seemed to be under the police car! And there once were some water slides that were for kids but the sea-lions took them over a long time ago I reckon!

Favourite shady spot under the local police car and playing on the waterslides - We weren't sure if the sign was a joke!!

Favourite shady spot under the local police car and playing on the water slides – We weren’t sure if the sign was a joke!!

Our friend Rick made a great short film about the sea-lions on San Cristobal. You can watch it on utube if you click on the link!

At first, all my family were going to the same school together in the morning! Mum and Dad were teaching/helping out and the girls were in classes there too. But after a while, Mum and Dad were doing other things and the girls moved to a different school so I ended up walking to school on my own and saving my $1 taxi money, although Matteo often picked me up and gave me a lift.

My Oma (Grandma) arrived last week and we picked her up at the airport – it was amazing to see her, so now we are six travelling together for the next 2 or 3 months! We’re trying to teach her Spanish!

On my last day of school, I took in sweets for everyone and then they asked me to come back the next morning and threw a goodbye party for me! At 7.30am we were drinking coke and eating crisps and then they gave me some amazing presents!

Saying goodbye to my Galapagos schoolmates at Alexandro Alvear....and the lovely gifts they gave me!

Saying goodbye to my Galápagos schoolmates at Alexandro Alvear….and the lovely gifts they gave me!

Then we said goodbye to San Cristobal and flew on a small plane to Isabela. It had just six seats including the pilot so we had to come on two trips! My Mum and Dad both got to sit in the co-pilots seat and hoped they wouldn’t need a co-pilot!

Looking less nervous once we landed safely and had our feed on land!

Looking less nervous once we landed safely and had our feed on the ground!

Isabela is the biggest Galápagos island, made of five volcanoes all joined together but the town of Puerto Vilamil is small and has almost no cars, has a lovely long sandy beach, with hundreds of iguanas on the wall and beach where we are staying.

The beachfront and marine iguanas where we're staying in Isabela, Galapagos.

The beachfront and marine iguanas where we’re staying in Isabela, Galápagos.

All the islands in the archipelago are made from volcanoes which exploded out of the sea a few million years. So there is volcanic rock everywhere! The islands are actually quite young compared to the rest of the world! San Cristobal is the oldest – its 45 million years old. Isabela is one of the youngest and the very youngest Fernandina is only about 700 thousand years old and still active. Yesterday we went to Tintoreras, a cluster of tiny islets made up of A’a lava – it’s really spiky and impossible to walk on unless you’re a lizard or iguana! A’a lava gets to be like that from ho it erupts and mixes with the air as it cools. The flowing stringy lava that we usually see is called Ropey Pahoehoe lava! The names are Hawaiian.

Me with male iguana and A'a lava at Tintoreras. The males get coloured at this time of year to attract the females!

Me with male iguana and A’a lava at Tintoreras. The males get coloured at this time of year to attract the females!

We saw hundreds of iguana there and around the rock in the water we saw white tip sharks, huge turtles and Galapagos penguins!

Iguanas, turtle, white tipped shark and Galapagos Penguins at Tintoreras

Iguanas, Turtle, White Tipped Shark and Galapagos Penguins at Tintoreras

This morning we saw a lava gull at the hostel and on the beach – its one of the rarest bird in the world because there are only 400 couples in the world. It was just as cheeky as the white gulls back home in Brighton and it tried to steal some breakfast then tapped at the hostel window, confused by its own reflection!

The rare Lava gull, or is it a pair?

The rare Lava gull, or is it a pair?

This afternoon, we’ll go by boat to the island of Santa Cruz and explore some more. All the islands are different and have different animals, especially the tortoises which are a bit different on each island, different sizes with different shaped shells and different length necks! They are called after the islands they live on. The Pinta tortoise recently became extinct when the last one, called Lonesome George died aged about 150. But scientists found another type on another island very similar.

Me with a very friendly tortoise at Isabela Tortoise Breeding Centre where they hope that in another 100 years, the population will be back up to what it was when humans first visted around 200 years ago!

Me with a very friendly tortoise at Isabela Tortoise Breeding Centre where they hope that in another 100 years, the population will be back up to what it was when humans first visited around 200 years ago! The babies will take longer than a human lifetime to get to full size!

Charles Darwin was a scientist from Shrewsbury where my great grandma lives. He is very famous here because he came to the Galápagos in 1835 and saw that all the animals, even though their bodies looked the same , their beaks were different and the giant tortoises shells or necks were different on different islands – like the Pinta tortoises, or Isabela tortoises.  He worked out the Theory of Evolution that creatures develop in different ways over millions of years because they have adapted to different habitats in the different islands.  The ones that adapt the best, survive the best and so over millions of years, they change and we get different species.

Me with Charles Darwin on Frigate Hill in San Cristobal

Me with Charles Darwin on Frigate Hill in San Cristobal

After the Galápagos we’ll fly back to the mainland and I’ll be in Peru for Christmas in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. The Incas are one of the oldest civilisations on earth and we’ll get to visit Machu Picchu, ancient Inca site that was hidden for 500 years and only rediscovered 100 years ago.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julia
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 13:17:06

    What a brilliant blog entry, Ben. Well done and great work! I am so impressed at how good your English is and your writing is so interesting. I will show it to Jamie this weekend. He is on holiday next week. Can we arrange to Skype again?
    Julia x

    Reply

    • Ben
      Dec 18, 2012 @ 03:56:19

      thanks Julia, glad you liked it:) Hope to skype soon too. Maybe from Cusco. Please say hi to Jamie, Ben x

      Reply

  2. Michael
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 20:24:17

    These reports are fascinating and so well written that it is easy to feel that we are right with you, Clark Family. Keep them coming! Michael

    Reply

  3. kate
    Dec 14, 2012 @ 22:07:31

    Is this articulate, engaging entry full of vivid descriptors indeed from the same fun lovin criminal that scared me off San Cristobal with his blazing cap gun and cowboy gruffness? Brills! im blown away… gracias… hope you are all having fun with Gramma Claus!!!

    Reply

    • Ben
      Dec 18, 2012 @ 04:01:28

      Hey Kate! Yup that’s me. I gave the gun away to my friend you’ll be glad to know!! Better to be blown away with my writing than my pistol! We’ve had a great time in Isabela and Santa Cruz. We were sad to leave the Galapagos, now we’ve just arrived in Lima.
      Ben x

      Reply

  4. Val
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 17:19:22

    What a great blog. Now I have my assembly for Monday! I sent you some questions from the children at school today. Hope you got them? Thanks love Val x

    Reply

    • Ben
      Dec 18, 2012 @ 04:04:31

      Hi Val, Great! I hope they all enjoy the assembly, please let me know! We did get the questions and have been writing some replies. Maybe my blog answers some of them 🙂 Anyway, Mum will email our answers very soon, I hope before the end of term. love, Ben x

      Reply

  5. Val
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 21:58:57

    Hi Ben. Thanks for your reply. The assembly went really well. The Zumba dance club put on a show at the beginning so there were lots of parents there too to watch. They were so fascinated by your blog and want to know more. They stayed for ages asking me questions at the end.
    The children loved hearing about all the amazing animals especially the booby bird which they all thought was hysterical!! They feel like they know you all. Did you get the photos? We break up on Friday – just three more days.
    Sending you lots of Christmas wishes. X x

    Reply

  6. Trackback: Galapagos Exploring and Goodbyes « The Clark Family's Amazing Adventures
  7. Olivia
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 19:10:32

    Hi it’s me Olivia love the photos it seems so fun there are you enjoying it you look so different in a good way I love the animals there so cute,

    Reply

    • Ben
      Apr 01, 2013 @ 01:47:50

      Hi Livy, great to hear from you. How do I look different? Is it the long hair? I eventually had a haircut in Cusco and again in La Paz – I will put a picture in the next blog…but its getting long again now! Ben

      Reply

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