A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike, and all plans, safeguards, policies and coercions are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do no take a trip, a trip takes us.

- John Steinbeck

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Day 4: Wednesday May 17, 2000
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click once for larger imageThis morning sees the departure of some passengers, and the arrival of others. We gain a Booby as Mary joins the Marine Expeditions elite. We are glad we chose to do the full week, as we can’t imagine missing what we’ve seen so far, or forgoing what lies ahead. We do our best to get Mary “caught up” on the week so far.

For those not leaving the cruise, this morning’s landing is to the beach in the town of Baltra. Of all the pax, only Lynda avails herself of the opportunity, and so has the place pretty much to herself. The rest of us conserve our strength for what will surely be a most challenging afternoon excursion, the climbing of the 372 steps that lead to the summit of a tuff volcano on Bartolomé Island.

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Falling squarely into the category of “if I can do it, anyone can”, the climb proves challenging but not impossible. And of course the view makes it worthwhile. The inevitable lunar landscape comparisons, the volcanic devastation and desolation, and the postcard view of the scenic beach and rock formation that would be the second part of this visit—all of these make for a memorable climb.

click once for larger imageShould I mention how much easier it is to go down 372 steps? I offer encouraging words to those still ascending, then we’re off to Pinnacle Rock and the beach. A lone penguin poses against the dark lava, a welcome surprise. At my request, Eric kindly navigates another pass in front of the large volcanic chimney that is the defining landmark of this beach, allowing me to get a photograph from the vantage point of the water.

I have another shot at snorkeling, but the mask’s lack of a good seal around my mustache, coupled with my own tendency to react unfavorably to sucking sea water up my nose, has me abandoning the effort once again. I hand over the underwater camera to Lynda and content myself with a swim.

click once for larger imageThough the Galapagos Islands lie on the equator, the water temperatures are surprisingly cool. At this time of year, we are under the increasing influence of the cold-water Humboldt Current coming up the coast of South America. It is still technically the warm and wet season, but the return of the cool water currents mark the beginning of the cool dry season. Cerro Brujo on Monday was very cool for swimming (at least for this big baby) but today at Bartolomé the water seems warmer. We’re less in the path of Humboldt here, it seems.

click once for larger imageAnother day, another milestone. Is this the night I reacquaint myself with the joys of vodka and freshly-squeezed orange juice? Perhaps. It’s all a bit of a blur. What the hell, I’m on vacation. And when all you have to do is sign for your drinks...

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Tonight as we sleep (or in my case, sleep it off) the ship will cross the equator twice as we round the northern tip of Fernandina Island. Paul suggests a series of overnight toilet flushing scientific experiments to mark the occasion. I suggest not.

Day 4 (recap)
07:30 breakfast
09:30 Baltra Beach - wet landing
11:00 arrival of new passengers
12:30 lunch
15:30 Bartolomé Island - dry landing, then wet landing
18:30 return to ship
19:30 briefing on tomorrow’s visits to Fernandina and Isabella Islands
20:00 welcome cocktail for new passengers, then dinner
21:30 live music and dancing (or off to bed)
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