Travel E-Logs #3: San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Dear students:

Greetings from San Cristobal, the easternmost island of the Galapagos Islands.

Well, we made it! But it was quite an adventure just getting here. After flying to Baltra Island and taking a ferry to Santa Cruz, we visited the Santa Cruz marina. There, naval officers told us we might be able to catch a free ride to San Cristobal in a big navy warship if we came back to the marina between six and seven the next morning.

To play it safe, we got there, with all of our luggage, at ten to six. The officer in charge said, 'Quick, go over to the peer and get a sea taxi to the ship. It is about to leave!' So, we rushed over to the peer and, sure enough, there was a whole row of large motorboats with yellow and blue tarps -- sea taxis. The only problem was, there were no drivers. They hadn't woken up yet. We were about to give up when, all of a sudden, a smaller motor boat pulled out and drove by. We waved at the driver and motioned for him to come over to the peer. He told us he was not a taxi, but was bringing supplies to another ship in the marina. We explained our situation and he said, 'Hop on.'

The marina was full of boats of all sizes, rocking on the waves; and out beyond the bay, anchored in deeper water, was the warship. We could see it wasn't moving, so we felt confident that we were finally going to San Cristobal. The motorboat sped off towards the warship. But as we passed the boats in the marina, the wind picked up, and as we reached the deeper water beyond the bay, the waves got bigger and bigger. The motor boat had to slow down as it surfed the crests and troughs of the waves. Up and down, up and down, up and down, slower and slower as the waves got bigger and bigger. With several hundred yards to go, our ride to San Cristobal, the giant gray gunner, suddenly made a big sweeping turn. It began to leave wSea Lions greeting us at the Marina of  San Cristobalithout us. Our driver slowed down and, disappointed, we told him, 'OK. Let's go back.'

As we turned back, we could see the crew on the deck of the big ship. Our driver waved and, to our surprise, the crew waved back, and the ship slowed and came to a stop. It was waiting for us!

A few minutes later, we pulled up to a thin, metal twelve-rung ladder welded to one side of the ship. All we had to do now was climb up the ladder -- with all of our luggage! Not so easy when you're dancing on the waves. When the waves went down, we were level with the bottom rung of the ladder. When the waves went up, we were level with the sixth rung. One of the crew members came half way down the ladder to take our luggage. I passed him the small bags first, then my large suitcase, then Lilia's large suitcase. But when he grabbed Lilia's suitcase, the handle broke and the suitcase, filled with artwork made by students from US schools and all of Lilia's clothes, splashed down into the ocean water. Lilia screamed. She couldn't see over the side of the boat and thought the suitcase was sinking. But it floated. I reached out and grabbed its strap. But the strap broke and the suitcase rose on the crest of a large wave alongside the boat. I knelt down, reached forward, grabbed the suitcase with both hands and yanked it back into the boat, then handed it up to the crewman.

Next, Lilia and I, one at a time, waited for a wave to crest and stepped from the boat onto the ladder and climbed up onto the ship. The captain escorted us to the captain's quarters where the officers were watching an Eddie Murphy movie. We opened the suitcase and, though some water got in, only few drops reached the artwork. Que buena suerte! (What good luck!)

Down in the captain's lounge, it didn't take long for Lilia to start feeling seasick. An officer suggested that we go above to get some fresh air, so we rode the rest of the three-hour trip on top of the ship, above the deck, where all of the communications equipment is. From there we could see out over the ocean. Watching Santa Cruz get smaller and smaller behind us, you could easily see that the island was actually just the top of a giant mountain. It made me wonder, 'How much of the mountain was under the water?' and 'How many smaller sea mountains aren't tall enough to actually poke out of the water like the Galapagos Islands?' It was amazing to see the island stretching across the ocean like a giant sea lion and to consider that the whole thing -- and all the other islands -- were formed by lava that came from volcanic eruptions that happened over millions of years.

Map of the GalapagosAs Santa Cruz faded into the clouds behind us, two giant rocks appeared on the horizon to the north. They looked like the head and tail of a giant whale sticking up out of the water. An hour later, to the south, we saw a small, uninhabited island called Santa Fe. (Can you find it on the map?)

By the time we reached San Cristobal, named after Christopher Columbus, both Lilia and I were feeling quite woozy from the constant heave and ho of the waves, but luckily neither of us had to hang our heads over the side of the boat. During the trip, we only saw a few small groups of seabirds and no dolphins or whales, but when we arrived in the San Cristobal bay, there was plenty of animal activity -- and inactivity, if you count all the sea lions lounging lazily on the beach (but we'll tell you about the animals in the next report).


For now, I've written a math poem about one animal we've seen a lot both on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. First, see if you can guess the animal; then see if you can figure out which body parts the lines in stanzas two and three refer to by considering both the number and word clues. Finally, complete the multiplication equations posed in stanzas two and three to tell how many of each body part the animal has. Have fun!

Lava on Lava

Like lava on lava
A lump on a lump
I'm a bundle of bulges
And a barrel of bumps
Spines on spine
Spike by spike
I'm pretty unpretty
But pretty easy to like

One by one
Is the rudder of my skiff
Two by two
Scuttling up a cliff
Five by four
Keep me anchored wet or dry
Two by one by two
Seeking seaweed salad and finding moss-patch pie

One by one
I trim, I prune, I clip, I mow
One by a hundred
Rubbery stalagmites in a row
Sixty by two-sixty
Soaking up the sun
Twenty four seven
Life on the whole I'd say is quite fun

Like lava on lava
A lump on a lump
I'm a bundle of bulges
And a barrel of bumps
Spines on spine
Spike by spike
I'm pretty unpretty
But pretty easy to like

Guess who.

I'll tell you the answer in the next report -- and include a photo of the animal.


In two days, since arriving in San Cristobal, we've visited eighteen classrooms in two schools (Escuela Pedro Pablo Andrade and Escuela Alejandro Alvear) and an educational center called Nueva Era Galapagos (New Era Galapagos). We were even invited to appear on the local TV show and radio station to talk about the project. In the schools, we showed the students artwork by US students and videos of children in the Arctic, Africa and the Amazon rain forest that we made when visiting schools in those places. The students here were very excited to learn about other parts of the world and to receive artwork by their foreign companeros (companions).


Q and A Exchange:

Some students also answered some of your questions. Here are their responses:

How hot and cold does it get there?
The temperature usually ranges from 18 to 30 degrees Celsius.

What kinds of pets do you have?
We have dogs, cats and chickens.

What kind of wildlife do you have around your home and school?
We have wild goats, wild cats, whales (since our town is on the seashore), sea lions, blue-footed boobies, A girl from the Galapaogos draws for the project.frigate birds, manta rays, pelicans, turtles and lots of fish.

How do you celebrate your favorite holiday?
Our favorite holiday is Christmas. Some people wear Christmas hats, some put up (artificial) Christmas trees and decorate them, some people give gifts and we have a special meal with roasted pig or turkey, cola, beer and cake.

What subjects do you study in school?
We study Spanish, English, writing, reading, natural sciences, math, social studies, art, music, gym, religion, computers, technology, civics and history.

Do you live in a small city or a town?
We live in a town of about 6,000 people.

What are your favorite foods?
Some of our favorite foods are ceviche (marinated shrimp or shellfish served with popcorn), eggs and rice, chicken soup, fish, and encebollada (a combination of fish, cassava, onion, tomato and lemon)

What kind of sports do you play?
We play soccer, basketball and volleyball. We also go swimming, diving, boating and surfing (in the ocean). A few of us like to skateboard.

How long have people lived on your island?
We aren't sure, but we think for about two hundred and sixty years.

Will you describe your climate?
Sometimes it's sunny; sometimes it rains. Sometimes it's cool; sometimes it's hot. When it rains, usually it is in the form of mist.


Well, that's all for this report. In the next one, I'll tell you more about San Cristobal's animals: Chao for now!



Teachers: Here are some links to excellent Web sites about oceans:

Secrets of the Ocean Realm -- A fascinating PBS exploration of the seas and all its creatures, with activities designed for the classroom, quizzes and even a cool underwater screensaver for your classroom computer!

A Sea of Resources -- Visit this Education World page to find links to sites about oceans for all grade levels.

Secret @ Sea -- This site explores topics in ocean science. Meet interesting characters, uncover amazing ocean facts and participate in challenging learning activities. Topics include tides, food webs, salmon, whales and more.

National Oceanographic Data Center -- The world's largest collection of publicly available oceanographic data.

Ocean98 -- Education, science, cultural, communication and environmental activities for United Nations 1998 Year of the Ocean.

Ocean -- Smithsonian Institution on-line exhibit promotes understanding and conservation of world's oceans.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography -- Research and educational institute for oceanography and related disciplines. Visit the Education Corner to find investigations designed for the classroom of sea horses, plate tectonics and giant kelp.

SeaWiFs Project -- NASA program studies oceans from satellites in space.

Here's an activity idea:

We know that the continents have lots of mountains, but sometimes we don't consider that the oceans do, too. Use an atlas to explore the ocean's mountains. Are there more on land or in the seas? Which are taller, from base to summit? Which islands or sets of islands are part of ocean ranges?

We are also attaching three pictures. We took the first one from the airplane as we flew over the ocean and approached the coastline of Baltra. The sea lion in the second photo welcomed us as our ship arrived at San Cristobal marina. The third photo shows students at the Escuela Pedro Pablo Andrade making Christmas decorations.

Index Page
Meet the Adventure Team
E-Log #1 -- New York
E-Log #2 -- Quito, Ecuador
E-log #3 -- San Cristobal Island
E-Log #4 -- San Cristobal

E-Log#5: Santa Cruz

E-Log#6: Santa Cruz
E-Log#7: Santa Cruz
E-Log#8: Isabela Island
E-Log#9: Isabela

© 2007 OneWorld Classrooms. Text by Paul Hurteau. Photos by Dennis Pippen, Lilia Cai and Miguel Mosquero. All rights reserved.