Day 4 of our Galapagos Islands adventure we were up early to do an asana class to start the day off!
I was getting up a little earlier than everyone else to do my own practice on the retreat before leading our morning classes and most days when I headed from my room to the studio it was still dark outside. I often came very close to stepping on one of the giant turtles who were sleeping on the pathway to the studio or nearby. The turtles hiss at you when they are scared or startled and it sounds very strange.
This morning on Day 4 was one of those times when I almost stepped on one of the turtles and we startled each other. I was walking to the studio, half asleep, and it was still pretty dark out. Suddenly, a loud hissing sound to my right startled me. I remember thinking, what the heck is that noise? I think I must've woken up the poor turtle as I was walking by because when I looked back over my shoulder, I could vaguely see him and he was looking around, moving his head from side to side, still hissing and looking rather confused. They usually just tuck into their shell and hide for a few minutes when they are startled. This guy was startled just like I was and was probably thinking, what the heck is that noise, just like me.
After our morning asana class, we had a quick breakfast and boarded the bus for a short ride to Los Gemelos (The Twins). Robert, our host at Semilla Verde, was also our guide for our adventure on this day.
Los Gemelos is the site of two large craters on either side of the main road that runs north to south across the island of Santa Cruz, the island we were staying on. The craters were formed, like the rest of the island, when the magma/lava broke through the earth's crust and cooled, encountering the ocean water. The way the lava cools, from outside in, left much of the island hollow. The twins were a part of the island that had literally collapsed inward on itself.
We hiked around the edge of the twins and Robert gave us a rundown on how the islands had formed and how wildlife first arrived from Antarctica.
After our stop at Los Gemelos we went to El Chato Farm to hang out with the giant turtles there and walk through some of the open lava tubes that had been discovered on the property, which were basically caves and cave like tunnels running underground, where once the lava flowed.
There were a few turtle shells on display at El Chato. Robert told us that my teacher Annie Anne Carpenter had done Kurmasana in one of the shells when she was here on retreat a few years ago. I tried to do the same thing but I don't think it worked as easily for me. Annie is much tinier than I am. I had trouble getting into the shell once I was in Kurmasana.
El Chato was pretty incredible. There were so many turtles walking around. We spent hours just hanging out with them. It was quite amazing to just sit and watch these beautiful creatures and to interact with them, and, of course, we got some pretty memorable pictures with these beautiful giants too.
After El Chato, we went back to Semilla Verde for lunch and an afternoon yoga nidra session. I think I mentioned we had done yoga nidra the day before in the afternoon but we actually did a seated pranayama and meditation practice. Some of the days are blurring into each other as I recall each one.
There was definitely a little bit of snoring in the yoga nidra. I kept thinking of taking class with my teacher Dharma and him walking around the room, trying to wake up the people who had fallen asleep by standing near them, and loudly saying, "PAY ATTENTION!"
After yoga we headed into Porto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz Island, and went to the Darwin Station. Here we were able to see some of the turtles and other animals that are being raised in captivity to repopulate some of the species that are in decline on the islands, like the saddleback species of turtle.
We met Diego at the Darwin Station, a saddleback turtle, who was brought to the island from the San Diego Zoo to help re-populate the saddleback species when the few remaining males left on the island showed little interest in mating.
Diego we were told was single handedly responsible for bringing the population of the saddlebacks from just a handful back up to over 2000. We all joked that Diego should be getting a little more publicity. There's a turtle named Lonesome George, another saddleback, who was found alone on one of the islands, and who seems to be the one everyone talks about. Lonesome George is on a lot of the t-shirts and memorabilia in the gift shop at the station too. No Diego t-shirts, though.
After the Darwin Station, we went for a walk around town and then met up at a Sushi restaurant for dinner out. We even closed the evening with a little pool.
Another packed day! What an incredible retreat! So grateful to have had this experience.