Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life in the Galapagos

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Oh, you know… just your every day sea lion
"sawing logs" while you wait for the local water taxi.
Everywhere I turn in the Galapagos, I am entertained by the wildlife that is in abundance here on the island of Santa Cruz.

The first day we pulled into the harbor, we were greeted by sea lions that were all too anxious to make our acquaintance.  We saw over-sized pelicans ready for any scraps that the fishermen would throw at them down at the pier, and large iguanas in quantities I didn't care to count.
We took a stroll through the Charles Darwin Research park and saw turtles and tortoises, birds and even more iguanas.
I am enchanted by the quaint little town of Santa Cruz.  All along the harbor, the artisans sell their goods.  The restaurants are unbelievably good and well-priced.  The every day atmosphere is laid-back and there seems to be more people on bikes than in cars.  Your typical beach town.
Everywhere we go, we are greeted by, "Hello, have a good day" or "Are you having a good day?"  The people are so friendly and warm and we feel quite safe.  In fact, Lily and I went on a long walk last Saturday and mothers with their children would come up to greet me and walk with me as I went to visit the local market that was filled with fresh produce, loud music and dancing.  Now how is that for local hospitality?
You just need a little fly swatter to shoo away the
flies from getting on the meat.  That's all.  
As Martin and I were strolling the streets this evening, I remarked at how quickly we have come to know each of these towns and cities that we visit.  We seem to be able to fit into the rhythm of our lives, while taking in different landscapes, people and cultures without blinking an eye.  It takes us all of two days to figure out where the best markets are located, where the best hair stylist is found, and where to find a good electrician.  I even map out where to go to purchase the best kinds of keepsakes to remember my time in each place.  Of course, it helps having David and Sue around since they have been to all the cities we have visited and have, in essence, already "staked out the place".

On the island of Santa Cruz, we have stepped into island living with ease and feel as if we have lived here for much more time than a mere 6 days.  I have started to wave at the same people that I see daily and have found my favorite stores to shop.  However, we are already feeling the tug of the Pacific and are preparing for our long journey.
This has been an interesting and busy week for our family while AMARA rests in the harbor of Santa Cruz island.

We started the week off by going to a little island called, Isabela.
All the benches had these little messages on them.  I loved it.
Isabela island is this quaint little beach town, where you can see that the lay of the town is being built up using only natural elements from it's own landscape.  Take this light pole, for instance.  They are made of natural drift wood.
The area down by the beach was also done in recycled wood, making it welcoming and unique.
We strolled down the boardwalk and saw the children at play living in all they have ever known.  Oh, to be so lucky.
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We sure are glad to have Meredith join
us for this part of our trip.
When we arrived on the island, we were picked up by buses which quickly shuttled us to our first stop… to see the pink flamingos...
The way it was described by everyone we talked to before going was that  we were going to see THOUSANDS of flamingos.  Instead, Martin said we saw ten.  I am sure there were more… somewhere, but not where we went.  Still, they were quite elegant and indeed very pink.  We loved watching them stand there and make the the perfect poses for us to click away on our cameras.
The next day we went on a hike up into the highlands to see the volcanos and walk on lots of lava.  This hike was a bit interesting because our guide was none too pleased to see a child on the trek, let alone one that can't walk.  Before the hike began he said to me, "this is a VERY difficult 11-mile hike, we're going to be slowed down by having a child on the hike."  My first thought was, "Well then why didn't someone tell us this while we were booking the hike?"  My second thought was, "Oh, he doesn't know who he is dealing with now, does he?"  I let him think that I was unfazed by his comment, but inside, I was slowly steaming.  Martin could have skipped up the trail backwards, and Meredith did the climb in flip flops and I stoically carried Lily on my back up the whole way without a complaint (which is HUGE for me).  We were "hardly" a burden.
The only caveat was that Lily only wanted her mom to carry her; making my load a little heavier.  Really though, who can resist this face?
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So we saw the "volcano" and touched the lava and got our money back after telling the tour operator that the guide was not so happy to be 'guiding" that day and left it at that.  We still had fun.  We were together and that was what mattered.

After our trip up the mountain, we went on a tour to see more iguanas, finch's, the famous blue-footed boobies and even more iguanas.  I have finalized my opinion on iguana's… "Those things freak me out! "  They were everywhere and blended in so well with the lava that every step I took, I didn't know if I was going to step on an iguana.  Finally I just said to Martin, "Can we be done with this part of the tour?"
The famous "Blue Footed Boobies"
I love this picture of all the "mothers" having a discussion at the water's edge...
The only place in the world where penguins can be found north of the equator.
The highlight of the trip was swimming with sea turtles and sea lions.
This little guy was such a scene stealer.  Before we got in the water, he would swim back and forth showing all of us how well he could swim and ready for us to come in and play with him.
I love this picture of Martin snorkeling and unaware of his little friend following him.  When I tell Martin, he turns around and immediately loses all focus on me and starts playing with them.  Martin turns into a little boy when he is in the water with sea turtles, sharks and sea lions.  I could hardly get his attention from that moment on as he just wanted to swim around and play with them.
Pretty soon, the LONG day had to come to an end and we headed back to our AMARA.  In the Galapagos, everywhere you go, you have to take a water taxi.
It's a very sleek system and we love the convenience of just having to call them on our VHF radio and they are at the boat within 5 minutes ready to take us to and from the boat into town.
Today we are going to go to Turtle Beach which is known for it's flour-like sand and beautiful landscape.  Even better, you can snorkel and see more sea lions, sea turtles and if we're lucky… sharks!
We plan to take off on Saturday for the Marquesas, hopefully I can post one more time before we leave off into the big blue ocean.

Disclaimer:  Internet is poor and the writer is tired from all her adventures.  I apologize if there are any typos.  I have to write fast before the internet goes down or my head falls on a pillow.  I sure hope you are enjoying our adventures!
Don't forget to follow us on our map that we have provided in the right navigation bar.  It should be updated hourly.  The numbers underneath the sailboats are just indicating different data points.  You can click on the boat and it will point to where we are exactly in the Pacific.  It should be fun!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fish Tales

So, you know the story about the guy that walks in and begins to tell a story about a really big fish that he caught (spanning his hands out as far as they can reach) and saying, "It was this big!”?  Everyone around him nods, rolls their eyes and says to themselves, “I’ve heard this one before.”  

Well, I have my own fish tale to tell.  I caught a fish.  It was my first fish EVER, and if truth be told, Martin and David helped me catch him pretty much the entire time while I was reeling him into the boat.  But still, I caught my first fish!  He was HUGE!
 My Caravalle Jack. 
That really isn’t the only fish tale that I wanted to tell, because the one I am about to tell you will completely deflate my story.  So, I had to tell mine first.

About 4 days into our 6-day trip to the Galapagos, we heard the reels screaming telling us that there was a fish at the end of the line.  So, Martin ran over to the rod, grabbed on to it and said, “I think this may be a really big fish!”  About that moment a Blue Marlin comes jumping out of the water wiggling his sword showing us, that he, in fact, was a “big fish” at the end of Martin’s line.  

Martin sat holding that rod and watching the line just peeling out without being able to reel him in at all.  If you know Martin, he was not going to let some "fish" get the better of him.  So, every time the Marlin would peel out the line, David (our captain) would help Martin reel in some line by circling AMARA back towards the fish.  It seemed like a dance between the two, as each one did their own version of the two-step.  Give a little. Take a little.  This dance lasted for hours.  
The fish was so strong that it broke the metal rod holder.  (See below.)

After a few more hours, David jumped in and started helping Martin by pulling up the line hand over hand for at least another hour.
Sue and I even to help relieve some of the pressure off Martin by holding on to the middle of the rod as David continued to yank up the line.
Finally after 5 hours and more than half a mile of line (that Martin reeled in at least 100 times) we landed the "fish"... and he was no ordinary fish.

Let photos begin...
Martin and his trophy Blue Marlin.
400-lb and 11' 6" long
A picture of their prize.
Now for Sue to work her magic.
The story doesn't even end here...  The next day at almost the exact same time, Martin and David switched roles and David caught this Blue Marlin which we caught and released.
Another Blue Marlin estimated to be about 7 feet and 200-lbs.
Apparently, we've finally figured out how to catch fish.  Here is to more fish stories in our future!

Also, another monumental accomplishment for the Frey family is that when we crossed the equator, we were officially initiated from Pollywog status to being Shellbacks.

Festivities and lots of shaving cream were involved.

More Adventures Await...

Friday, we made it to the Galapagos Islands.
I can't even begin to explain the beauty of this place.  There are tortoises, iguana's, pelicans and sea lions in abundance.

Check out those toes!
Our little stowaway this morning.  All he wanted was a little peace and quiet.
 Meredith arrived safe and sound with 4 bags for our enjoyment (All things ordered by us.)
We also found Google Earth at the Charles Darwin Research Station taking photos.  (Don't worry, I tried getting in them but failed miserably.)

We are off for the next week to go and visit the islands and see all the wildlife, do some scuba diving and just enjoy this magical place.  I hope to be able to post during our travels.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We Made it to the Pacific Ocean!

Monday and Tuesday were monumental for our family.  We made it through the Panama Canal!
These are two very happy people!
What an experience.  Throughout this whole adventure, Martin and I have kept saying to one another, "Once we get through the Panama Canal, we'll deal with this..."  Or, "Let's talk about it after we get through the Canal..."  Everything that we have planned for has led us up to this experience.

Here is a fun video that I made of our trip through the first lock (Gatun Lock).  I am really having fun making these videos.  I hope you are enjoying them!

As always, check the volume on your computer!

When we went through the last lock and out into the Pacific, I burst into tears because it was such an emotional moment knowing that we had DONE it!  Even more so because this is the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal (Built in 1913).

My sister, Chelsey, was able to get some photos of us taken from the Canal video camera passing through the last lock into the Pacific Ocean.  These photos will be treasured by us.
Martin working the lines through the Canal.
We made it to the Pacific.  Time to celebrate!
We hope to leave tomorrow for the Galapagos Islands.  The trip will take us around 6 days to sail, pending wind. Which is none.  This translates to us motoring the entire way since the wind patterns on our charts show no wind all the way there.  Okay, maybe 5 knots.  (Typical for the Galapagos.)  Doldrums.

When we get to the Galapagos.  We will be meeting up with Meredith and will be going on a 4-day cruise through the islands to explore and see all the wildlife.  I can't wait to see all the turtles.  Meredith will stay with us as we make the passage through the Pacific.  It should take us around 21 days to get to the Marqueses islands and then she'll have to head home back to her life again at home in Utah.  We are so happy that she is coming.  She has been my helper running and grabbing things that I forgot to bring back home (7 boxes and I still forgot to bring things) and she'll be a huge help on the boat with Lily, with crewing and doing watches.  (Safe travels, Mere.  We'll see you soon!)

More updates as internet permits.  Hopefully I can figure out the satellite phone blogging tool and keep you all up to date on our little family traveling around this big blue ocean.  Enjoy the video!