Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 17: Great View, Horrible Guide

Today we ventured to Cierra Negra on Isabela, which was a fantastically slippery, muddy trail that lasted about five hours there and back. Kathrin and Iris, our fabulous German friends, had only flip-flops, yet forged through with hilarious squeals of almost slips. I was really cranky that day to be honest, and they helped me keep up in high spirits. Why was I cranky? Part of it was tiredness, part of it was sick of being around a group of people all the time (since we arrived in the Galapagos), part of it was the mentality of marching to a destination without enjoying the journey, part of it was the obscene amount of mosquito bites I had on my now swollen, red arm, etc. In other words, I was not pleasant, and I’ll be the first to admit it.

And then we had not only an idiotic guide, but a dangerous one. Yes, I restrained from correcting his elaborate explanation of the habits of the Barn Owl we saw (it was really a Short-eared Owl). But when we LOST a group member and he wanted to CONTINUE the hike, I nearly had a conniption. We ended up finding the hiker, he was feeling very sick though. Later this guide told us about how the tortoises were flown in from zoos and sterilized (?!?!?!). I could not let that slide and asked him to clarify, which he could not. The 19-year-old group members did not care about that detail, and I remember one had a simple explanation including a “DUH” to support the guide and quiet me. I’m sorry, but I cannot believe that anyone would sterilize an endangered species! The next day, to rolling eyes, I asked our regular guide Galo about yesterday’s information. He just put his head in his hands and started rocking back and forth saying, “No no no! We sterilize cats and dogs, NOT endangered species!” Turns out the tortoises were hybrids from a botched breeding experiment, which were sterile ALREADY (like a mule), so naturalists put them on barren Pinta island to reestablish the vegetation that needs tortoise digestive systems to help with germination. Now Pinta is flourishing.

Which makes sense.

Overall, it was a frustrating day, but the shining light were my friends Kathrin and Iris. They are such free spirits, and while youthful 19-year-olds, they were aware of the people around them. Compassionate and optimistic. With a side of sass and sarcasm. I miss them a lot!

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