Ecuador's Galapagos Islands - 2003

R ANCHO P RIMICA Following a very good Ecuadorian lunch, we next visited Rancho Primica through which the wild tortoises crawled on their migration down from the highlands to the lower reaches of the island as the weather changed and different plants became their principal food for that season. We were lucky and saw 4 in all on the Rancho’s grounds.

The first one we saw was enormous and the naturalists with us said he must weigh in at 600 lbs.; however, he was resting in a very tight little thicket and it was not possible to photograph him well. We then encountered a smaller one but she was in very tall grasses and again very camera shy. When the 3 rd one was finally discovered, we had hit the photo jackpot. It was midway between the first two in size and was clambering out of a small pond when we happened upon it. So we got to observe its slow and rather arduous climb up the slick banks surrounding the pond and we could see the grasses and algae it had lunched on hanging messily out of its mouth. The last we saw was another really big fellow, but he had his head practically jammed against a large tree trunk so we could not see his ET-like face. You certainly can see where Spielberg got his inspiration for his ET’s face when you gaze into the sleepy, weak eyes of these big critters. 48

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