Now, it'd be wrong to say that the transfer to the Amigo was exactly seamless. For a start, at our first meal, I had to send back a knife on account of it being covered in the chef's blood. A couple of hours after that, moments before we were going to raise anchor and finally get the fuck out of Puerto Ayora, a three-strong contingent of Aussies who we'd met on the boat all left in disgust. Having moved down into their rooms to unpack, they pulled back the sheets to discover the beds covered in “big bugs.” They promptly turned tail and left for good, vowing to complain to the tourist commission and get full refunds.
Thankfully, those problems were contained to the rooms down in the belly of the ship. We ex-Angeliquers, up on the lower and upper decks, didn't have to suffer such indignity.
And after that early drama, if you looked at it in the right light and accepted that the food perhaps wasn't quite as good as it'd been on its predecessor, you could make a pretty strong case for saying that the Amigo was actually an upgrade.
A totally different size and shape of ship, it still wasn't the most handsome in the harbour, but it worked, which was certainly an improvement. The guide also spoke better English and knew his subject matter to degree level.
The next morning, we were even treated to sunshine when we finally landed at the fabled Floreana Island for a quick snorkelling session, and then onto the beach for a look at some pretty crabs.
|Photo: Wee Mo|
The rain, though, would not be denied, and just as we were about to set off for our afternoon session, the heavens opened. This made our already questionable decision to go into water-filled cave seem quite daft indeed. But round these parts, no one seems to give much of an equatorial fuck for practicalities like safety, nor show the slightest bit of sympathy for someone who is hydrophobic, like Aman, one of our new pals. Instead we were led into a dark, cave, and made to wade in the gloom, with icy water whipping past our collective shrivelled balls.
Against the odds, we survived and were taken out to Floreana's other major attraction, the so-called pirate postbox. Back when people slightly more disreputable than the current mob visited this islands, they would leave messages for their fellow skulduggerous skull-and-crossbone crew to take around the world e.g. “To anyone travelling to Plymouth, tell One-Eyed Boab that his brother is dead... And to his wife: 'Hello'”
These days the tradition kind-of continues. Now people leave crushingly dull messages on postcards (“Hey maw! Look at me! I done a holiday!”) for other moneyed shitbags to pick up and take to the addressee. The whole thing is supposed to be done by hand, though rarely is, with people preferring to simply send it by mail when they get to their native country. We shuffle the deck and find one addressed to the Rasmussens who live in Glasgow's bohemian west end. Being a narcissist with questionable amounts of friends, I replace it with one addressed to myself.
After that, the days tumble past to our departure without much incident. I mean, plenty of interesting things happen, but by Galapagoan standards, it's all pretty sedate: we get eaten alive by obscene numbers of mosquitoes on Espanola; the sea-lions continue to make us laugh, when they're not terrifying us; and it transpires that the American girl on our boat actually goes to university with my brother, which is so unlikely I avoid thinking about it too much to avoid brain damage. Also, Wee Mo takes a picture so good that I seriously doubt the blog is able to handle its perfection – I've tried uploading it a few times, but get the message is the same: too tremendous for public consumption. It was summed up by Rhys, our Canadian friend, who described as "fucking retarded."
And then suddenly we run out of rope, with barely enough time to say goodbye to our new friends and jump on a plane back to the mainland.
There's so much to admire about life in the Galapagos, that it's hard to know how to define it. For me, though, I think it's the feeling that a person can walk around and observe how things could have been if humans had never popped into existence. Here, you can get as close as you like to the animals, watch them, talk to them, like some invisible time traveller sent back into prehistory. They just don't care. For them, for now, we do little more than block the sun – and we're probably not as annoying as the mosquitoes.