I'm now in Galapagos mode. We are aiming to get out of here mid-November, to start our long awaited journey west, and the first stop is ....the Galapagos. It's on everyone's bucket list, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We've read other boat blogs, and seen photos of the wildlife, but in order to do it ourselves, we get to do more paperwork.
The fees have put some cruisers off, as it's not a free anchorage situation that we're talking about here. Cruisers, for some reason, are known for being cheap. Perhaps not even cheap, but miserly. We rely on the free sunshine for power, and after the initial cost, we can make our own water. With no rent on throwing out an anchor, no mortgage fees for a paid off boat, no car or car insurance, and all the accompanying fuel and toll fees and oil changes eliminated, we can live on a much reduced monthly allowance than we did while on land. When someone asks us to pay ANYTHING, it can be a shock, so a price tag of close to $1000 (for us, $1085 to be exact) to throw out our anchor in waters deemed to be available to anyone with a visa, is an adjustment. However, we simply can't imagine anyone sailing close by these islands that have so captured the imaginations of generations of scientists, and given rise to so many world-wide arguments about Darwin's "Theory of Evolution", without stopping. In the whole scheme of things, the "pay to play" bill we have been handed is a pittance, and we are happy to pay.
What do we get for $1085? We get to spend 3 months in this pristine natural environment, interacting on an "up close and personal" level with iguanas, sea lions and penguins. Yes, we've been "up close and personal" with all of those in the past, but surely you can see that being able to count yourself among the lucky few that have been to THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, has some bragging rights' merit. We get to visit three separate islands, and the fees include various agencies, gov't officials, the picking up of trash, the inspection of our boat to make sure there is no contraband, the services of our agent Sr. Bolivar Pesantes who will submit all fees and paperwork to the appropriate officials (and for anyone that has been to Latin America this alone is worth it's weight in gold) and our national park fees.....(we paid $105 each when we went to visit Peru's archaeological sites, too) so in reality, it's understandable, and we are willingly handing over the cash.
In preparation, we have to stop some 40 miles offshore and do an additional scrub of our boat bottom to make sure we are not importing strange 3 headed-pests, we need to separate our trash (we do that in Canada, so no problem there) but other than that, we're pretty well set.
Our reading lists for the next few months include Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos, Eric Simon's Darwin Slept Here, and a dipping of the proverbial toe into The Origin of Species. Of course, tales of the Kontiki and Thor Heyerdahl, and anything having to do with The Bounty and James Cook are to be followed soon after. Books open up my world, and have lead us to visit many places in Mexico and South America that we wouldn't have known to visit.
For those of you reading this blog who have no intention of exploring the world in a sailboat (it really is NOT for everyone), good authors can give everyone a glimpse of this fantastic world we live in, whether we are "up close and personal" with it, or whether our imaginations are fired from the cozy confines of an armchair. The only thing I know is that watching the grass grow, (and then having to mow it) and keeping a fastidiously clean house, is not the way I want to live my life. In the words of Irma Bombeck, I will NOT have on my headstone "ah, but she kept a clean house".
To all you non-housekeepers out there, the world is a wild and wonderful place!