Monday, September 21, 2015

Puerto Villamil and surroundings

This is Mike...
Puerto Villamil on Isabela island is a sleepy seaside village with a population of about 4,000. The town has the basics and would be a great place to get away from it all. But, if you want some of the modern stuff of the world, this place is lacking. There aren't any ATMs on the island and nearly every business doesn't accept credit cards. The internet was so slow we gave up using it after the first try. Forgoing the internet was not such a bad thing in the big picture considering we were, in the Galapagos. We still felt bad for all those who call Galapagos home, considering all the hoops they have to jump through to live there. They have to take water taxis to speed boats and back to water taxis to go inter-island or they can pay a king's ransom to fly on a puddle jumper and still have to take a ferry to a taxi to get back to Puerto Ayora, which really doesn't have much anyway. Nothing was simple for anybody and I feel for them.
That being said, the flora and fauna here are superb. The island is home to flamingos, penguins, seahorses, tortoises, hot pink land iguanas and on and on. The island is fairly young and looks similar to the west side of Hawaii island with all the old lava flows. The western part of the Galapagos is truly a heaven for nature lovers and hopefully it will stay protected for years to come. Come to Galapagos for nature and let the man made stuff pass you buy. If you are planning on visiting Galapagos and are working out a budget for the trip, I recommend calculating a high number and than double it, you might get somewhere around the real budget needed for the trip. 
Looking at the main square and sandy streets in town

The main thoroughfare in town leading to the port.

The action downtown in early evening

Heading to the beach

We liked this restaurant for their vegetarian options.

We rented bikes to check out some sites along the coast.

Marine iguanas lying in the road were a cool sight.

Flamingos were eating in the waters

The flamingos were stomping the ground with their feet to eat.

There is a tortoise breeding center on the island that is very successful.

The tortoises have to stay in the breeding center until they are 20 years old and then they can be released into the wild. The shells of the tortoises remain soft for two decades and as such baby tortoises are easily killed in the wild from introduced species like dogs and pigs. The tortoises here have a 97% survival rate versus less than 20% in the wild.

The Dobsons, from England, donate a couple months of their time every year to help various turtle projects in Costa Rica and Ecuador. People like them are making a difference and in the process living their dreams. We wish we could have donated more than we did to the cause :)  

Zoe was happy to celebrate her birthday.
A penguin came over to the harbor at sunrise to give us a show.

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