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Saturday, September 29th  -- South Plaza Island and Ayora Port, Santa Cruz Island.
We got a bit of extra sleep this morning for a later start, then went ashore for a walk on South Plaza Island. We were glad to have our walking sticks. It is the very rocky home of land iguanas, who feed on the cactus that grow quite thickly. There were, of course, lots of sea lions including one huge male who seemed to be resting from his labours and perhaps hoping someone would come and take over his harem. Lots of birds starting with swallow-tail gulls at the landing place, pelicans, a red-billed tropicbird (minus its beautiful long tail, which it had lost to a frigate bird), frigates, tiny black sharp-beaked finches. One marine iguana crossed our path. Back on the boat, we had a very rolling trip back to Santa Cruz Island. Myrna and David opted out of the visit to the Darwin breeding centre, where Lonesome George used to live until his death earlier this year. There the rest of us saw various types of tortoises being protected and/or bred. When we went back to the meeting place, no David and Myrna! The local people in the area said they’d arrived and walked toward the town. So we headed that way, even sending scouts out as far as a construction site that was blocking the main street. No sign of them. The rest of us shopped and strolled the length of the town, made our way through the construction and found them at the pier. Turned out there had been a misunderstanding and the panga driver had dropped them at the pick-up point instead of the drop-off. They had ventured out to the far side of the construction but missed most of the town. Back on board, Sally-Jo discovered that Maria had decorated her room with balloons and streamers and had fashioned all her towels into a birthday cake on her bed. Her real birthday is tomorrow, but we’ll be in transit. In the lounge, we found more decorations and we had quite a party, farewelling the crew and honouring the birthday. Galapagos Sun-Sets, champagne, birthday cake (with the added Ecuadorian custom of biting off a little corner of the cake after blowing out the candles – with the result of icing on face), “Happy Birthday” in both English and Spanish and finally “Go Now in Peace”, which we sing at the end of every trip.



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