Even approaching San Cristobal (one of Galapagos Islands) in the night and unexpected I had a cheerfull welcome by its inhabitants. I did not understand one thing but they seemed to be happy according to the snorting they made. Sea lion colony has a majority on this island, that is for sure.
Colony number two – locals (perhaps 3000) live mostly in the only town around Wreck Bay (harbor) with the sea lions kind of symbiotical life. Sea lions occupy seafront, beaches, stairs, sometimes benches, most moored fishing boats and many stern platforms of visiting yachts. To pay back they attract another colony – tourists and keep entertaining everybody.
Sea lions probably do not know how important they are. Or they do not care. They are playing all the time they can. And they can all the time. Friendly fights for a spot to enjoy the sun (after which both of them end up in the water forgetting what the matter was), playing with the fish, holding it in the teeth and throwing to the sides. No problem if its just a plastic bag. Some of them love going to the beach and play with people in the surf or swiming with them in shalow water. It is not hard for them to show that they can do better, at least in the water. I could hear them under my boat whole night and while rowing on the dinghy I usually had a company.
No surprise that apart from playing „lobos marinos“ have another bussines. Sleeping. Many of them on the beach or on the stones as all well behaved sea lions have done for centuries. Many of them on the fishing boats. Of course they do not need them to fish, they are just sleeping boats for them. But some of them are not satisfied and they are trying to find more social and maybe more noble place. Tourist pier seems to be popular though it is one of the busiest places and sometimes really crowded. No problem, tourist are able to make two steps aside. There are a few nice benches around and some pioneers discovered them already. The sign on the bench CONSERVEMOS LO NUESTRO can be also translated as „Lets keep what is ours“. One has doubts who wrote it. An office nearby was picked up by another group.
Where most offices in our latitudes have a mat, this office in San Cristobal /almost 1° south/ had a sleeping sea lion. I was not so surprised that he was all wrapped in sand – maybe a dress code, seeking a carrier opportunity.
I should have asked the man hoisting Equatorian national flag in the front of the city hall whether there are any plans to involve sea lions in the public life more seriously. The right to vote? Why not something more. Sea lions can wave with their fins gracefully, they can be very talkactive in their own ways no matter if somebody listens and they can fall asleep anywhere. Why not to be elected in the city council or even run for parliament? I wonder how much would change if they would get chairs in the captains and police office. Maybe they would not be as kind and polite but on the other hand they would not charge that much for yacht paperwork and they would not need more than one day to do it. They would certainly build a bigger dinkghy dock, I am sure.
Anyway I am not complaining. Latin American bureaucracy can be worse and it is the same if not worse for locals. I saw a lady comming to the captains office (equatorian navy runs it) to do what has to be done. She did not need much. She was selling an middlesized outboard engine from her (family) boat and somebody was buying it, planning to put this engine to his boat. The poor lady thought she might need some kind of paper to do this. Personaly I believe that just doing it without too many questions would be easier but maybe I am wrong. The navy official, kindly and politely explained all the papers she needs to bring before the transaction. He even brought a bunch of papers sticked together from a previous outboard change. Five different documents, each with its own copy – only ONE copy per each, but better make two you will use them. (Thats true, I have learned to make more copies here and finally I do not have any anyway).
The town, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a nice place to be in. Beautifull seafront with little park and view points to watch the sealife, beaches, few streets with many little shops and restaurants. Clean, calm and safe. Far from busy and much more touristic Santa Cruz Island, at least what people say. According to what I have heard this place has recently reach the point where it starts to be hard for everybody to know everybody else and I believe it is true. Two trafffic lights are just a game to look like big town. Of course we are capital, we have money, seafront is splendid, public toilets, park, park visitor centre, hospital, airport. The lights came after because it seemed logical not because it was needed.
I loved walking around and having nothing to do. It seems that everybody is selling something. Or to be more specific, everybody has something – a little store, bistro, fast food, restaurant or just a sign on the door: SE VENDE… this or that. Sometimes I wonder where the buyers come from. I was gratefull I could talk to many people. About life, kids, bussiness… Its easy to start talking to somebody here. It happens more easily than in the Carribbean or in Panama. I had my places to go, to order a good drink, snack or to have dinner. It is said that two prices – one for tourist one for locals are common. (In the public transport, local trucks, it is a legal system). I was rarely asked to pay more. After some time I heard my name on the street every day. Somebody was calling me. It was nice. Elise, my american friend told me that I need to enjoy so many friends and communications because I will be alone soon and alone for weeks. She was right. One day somebody called me by my name. Somebody I did not know! Well, small town and a nice place to be in.
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