The land life of San Cristóbal Island

After a couple weeks of exploring and volunteering on San Cristóbal, I was able to get some pictures of the wildlife here. The pictures are extra awesome because they were not taken at a zoo – these animals are just roaming the streets/beaches/forests of the Galapagos Islands. You don’t even have to go off the beaten path to see them. It’s like they’re used to all of the people that come to these islands because you can walk right up to them and they don’t even back away.

The first sighting was at the Galapaguera tortoise reproduction station because we worked there two times a week cutting down the lantana and reforesting the endemic plants that are found in the area. I took way too many pictures of these guys, but I just have one here. See my previous post for more.0B939D5E-77C4-47DB-B796-D7E207FEA2B4

The other day while we were working closer to the Jatun Sacha station, we saw this owl just hanging out in a tree while we worked. Luckily we caught her (I think it looks like a girl) before we chopped down that tree. She was beautiful!IMG_1041_2

El chancho (wild pig) – definitely invasive but still cute. This is Ozzy, the Jatun Sacha pet, which will be domesticated and eventually neutered to keep from reproducing. He was more like a dog than a pig. 5305F738-E4B3-4A32-A2EB-53DD20414E05

Just walking along the malecón in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, you see a ton of animals all around… This is the most close-up picture of a pelican I’ve ever taken.88A26D93-5F18-4D13-9C69-F08C75D41518

This is the infamous Blue-Footed Booby. This might be my new favorite bird.634389C7-19CB-4C68-BC90-E3B22F2C0089

On Saturday, we went on a hike at La Lobería where we saw a ton of sea lions and marine iguanas. The iguanas were huge and blended right in with the volcanic rocks so you had to really focus to try not to step on one. The further in we got, the more there were. They would remain immobile, even when we crept up to them, and then they would spit out salt water about every 5 minutes.09A301B4-BEF1-4A33-83D6-B605D727D25160EC4ACC-D753-4911-8E5D-10F19D331CB7This is a male – apparently the males are more colorful.

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The finches were flying and hopping all around me at the beach. If you eat crackers on the beach, they will even hop right on you. Even this ordinary-looking bird is cute on the Galápagos!513951D8-1AB8-4398-935B-A90686118938

Now for my favorite part: the sea lions were literally EVERYWHERE. They don’t stop being cute! They are on the sidewalks, benches, rocks and beaches all around the island and I can’t seem to get enough pictures of them. The tortoises and sea lions have almost filled my memory card. You can get so close to them and they don’t wake up for anything. They are a lazy bunch but fun to share the beach with – albeit a bit smelly if you get too close.EB0BA4A3-378C-4BDF-AB54-C52908EAEFBA

I guess this is how the sea lions have their fun. This water slide is not for people.6A1A52E3-AD14-499A-A5FE-0FC2A4DF651F

Feeding party!B28C5C97-CA8E-47A3-9828-E13A0E501463

I can’t believe I took this with my own camera…IMG_1026_2

Let this be the last image you see before you sleep tonight.AE677507-F170-480D-BE6F-960899CA99BF

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Pura Vida!

Because I am a Spanish teacher, my friends tend to always let me know when they plan to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, I think, in hopes that I have some good advice for them. While I’ve only been to 5 up til now (someday I hope to hit all 22), I still feel like I can always give some type of helpful advice. If it’s a country I haven’t been to, it’s usually one I really want to go to, so I usually have something to offer up. (I did purchase 3 Lonely Planet guidebooks without actually having any immediate plans to travel to them.)

I recently had a few friends tell me they plan to travel to Costa Rica this summer. This is a place I can talk forever about because I’ve been there AND I really want to go there (again). I went to CR with 2 of my good friends in 2010. I planned the short spring-break trip really well (if I do say so myself) and I remember it like it was yesterday. Talking about this trip made me reminisce the experiences I had there. Costa Rica is definitely a place that everyone should cross off their list. There is something for everyone. If you are adventurous but traveling with somebody who is not; while that somebody is relaxing on on the beach all day, you could be zip-lining in the rainforest less than an hour away. It’s a great place to go with a group. Some may choose to hike around the active volcano while others rest on hammocks outside your hostel with the volcano in the background. Or maybe chillin’ in the hostel’s pool with a swim-up bar. Only in CR can you find a pool with a swim-up bar at a hostel that sleeps guests for 10 bucks a night. It’s great.

Costa Rica is just such a happy place. You can tell that Ticos (Costa Ricans use this term to refer to themselves) genuinely love life. They even say so at least once per conversation. Instead of hola it’s “Pura vida!” In response to gracias it’s “Pura vida!” Even to say goodbye, if not used as a greeting, it’s “Pura vida!” They say that Latin Americans generally are happier, but in Costa Rica you can really see it all around you. You will have an amazing time here – mark my word. Just don’t make the same mistake I did – go for longer than a week.

This first photo is during a pit stop on the ride from the airport in San Jose to our hostel in La Fortuna. Our personal driver (works for the hostel) stopped to buy a machete, then took us into the rainforest. Scared us a little until he started cutting a watermelon and telling us that the hostel likes to give its guests a cultural experience on the way to it…

 

First waterfall visit in CR.

 

Hammocks in front of the hostel with a view of Volcan Arenal.

 

No need to go 5-star resort. This sweet “resort hostel” had it all.

 

Can you find the toucan?

 

La Colina villas, Manuel Antonio. If monkeys running on top of your roof bother you at night,  this might not be the place for you. Otherwise, it was awesome.

 

You can get up close and personal with some of the animals. I watched this one steal a granola bar out of someone’s sac on the beach.

 

SLOTH!

 

 

Canopy Tour – halfway through. Do not leave CR without zip-lining! If you are in Manuel Antonio, check out La Selvita. They were awesome!

 

Downpour mid-zip. Coolest feeling ever.

 

Pacifico.