Galapagos 1: San Cristóbal

Early the next morning the team boarded a fast 600hp speed boat for the journey to San Cristóbal.  They arrived in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno two hours later after a rapid thrill ride.  Quickly they sourced accommodation and then headed out to walk around town.  As this was the last day of the year, many people were letting off fireworks, so it gave the place a warzone carnival atmosphere.

Panorama of Pelican Bay, Puerto Ayora
Depressed bird
Random papier-mâché creature Yellow bird
Where is Mario?

After reading their next clue, the team set off on foot to Playa Mann.  There they watched the sunset and sea lions playing.  Whilst they sat on the sand, they were approached by two inquisitive baby sea lions.  In keeping with the two metre rule, the team backed away, but the sea lions gave chase.  The team watched the sea lions frolicking until the sun set.  This completed this challenge and the team were given the next task and returned to the centre of town.

Baby sea lion and mother on Playa Mann Another yellow bird

On the way back to the centre of town, the team were stopped by two cross-dressed Ecuadorians.  It was unclear why they were cross dressed, but as is normal for this part of the world, from midday 31 December to midday 1 January, children and adults are traditionally allowed to stop pedestrians in the street with passage only given once a contaminación toll is paid.  The amount is any coins, so it is necessary to carry enough small change to get where you need to go.  The team was lucky to have a few 5c pieces and good humour, so were able to pass by the many tolls without much issue.

The Team is still not entirely sure what Contaminacion means

Another Ecuadorian tradition is to write two long posters. One outlines the good things that you hope will pass in the future and the other outlines the bad things that have happened in the past.  Ecuadorians also make a papier mache character to accompany the messages that represent all the bad things that have happened in the previous year.   All around the town there were many such characters waiting for the New Year.

Ecuadorians lover their papier-mâché Yogi says ‘hola’
Ecuadorians love smurfs More smurfs and this time Taca airlines
Another display, this time with a garden theme A diver ready to dive into a fire
A ship with end of year messages ready to be set alight Yogi bear on car (this guy would escape getting burned for some reason)
Smurfs and African animals live together perfect harmony in Ecuador

The team had a nice meal then joined the crowds of locals walking along the waterfront and the streets watching buskers and socialising, and reading the New Year’s messages.   As midnight approached, the intensity of the fireworks increased.  Soon semi-professional fireworks were being released in the town square, into the sky and occasionally into the crowd.  Then, at midnight and without any countdown, locals set fire to their characters to ring in the New Year all across town.

A semi professional Ecuadorian fireworks display One minute after middnight
Bonfires in the street to see in the New Year

The team’s challenge was to photograph as much of this as possible, avoid being injured by the explosives that were thrown into the burning piles and help burn any blown away parts of remaining characters.  Much feliz años nuevo was said and with these challenges completed the team made their way to their accommodation to rest ahead of the next part of this leg.

… To Be Continued

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