Ecuador's Galapagos Islands - 2003

conducive to each plant’s health and growth. They then apply that knowledge to restocking ruined ecosystems with plants grown at the Center and also in nurturing the remaining plants. They (the humans) discovered quickly that it was no use trying they bring back the native animals to the islands if their habitat had been virtually destroyed. So the restoration projects must include both plants and animals. The single town in Galapagos was our next destination—Puerto Ayora. What a quaint and “exotic” place it is. Of all introduced animals we have been told about, this little town is one of the most “foreign” to the islands. It would really be better for the health & well being of Galapagos if the town did not exist at all. But exist it certainly does and even has a certain charm. They call its main street “T-shirt Mile” because of all the T-shirt shops lining the pavement. Some of these enterprises were pretty basic looking huts and sheds, but others were much more prosperous and modern looking. Interspersed among the ubiquitous tourist traps were little eateries and Internet cafes. There was a 7 th Day Adventist Elementary School in the town center as well as a government building. Puerto Ayora is a clean little city with masses of tropical flowers blooming everywhere, hiding much of the substandard housing and commercial buildings. The port is filled with confiscated boats of all sizes which were seized in Galapagos waters (within the 200 mile boundary set for the marine reserve). These boats are never returned to their owners who have broken the law by being in those protected waters, but can be auctioned off to provide funds for the National Park and the Darwin Research Center. The folks living here cannot be making “big bucks” but at least there is work in Galapagos which is not true of much of mainland Ecuador. A bus ride took us from Puerto Ayora up into the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to about 650 meters where we were to have our lunch at a restaurant called “Altaire.” For those who wanted a little exercise before eating, the bus stopped at about 1½ miles below the restaurant so we could walk the rest of the way. We enjoyed the chance to be on our feet, walking along a dusty road through banana orchards, farmlands and pastures with cows, horses and pigs in evidence. Also interesting were the enormous stands of bamboo that must have grown so fast that folks could watch it.


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