Friday, September 10, 2010

Galapagos Expedition | Day 4

Floreana Island: Post Office Bay and Point Cormorant

Floreana is a quiet island dotted with several extinct volcanic cones and a lot of scrubby vegetation. On the Daphne I read about the history of the island in Margaret Wittmer’s book, Floreana: A Woman's Pilgrimage to the Galapagos. This is a story by and about one of the first settlers to the island who traveled from her native land of Germany with her husband. They raised their children on Floreana and lived the rest of their lives here. She describes some bizarre characters who lived on Floreana at times making the Wittmer’s pioneer lives even more challenging and interesting.

This is the view from my little reading spot on the Daphne...

view from The Daphne near Floreana Island, Galapagos

Hiking on Floreana...

hiking on Floreana Island

Post Office Bay

This is one of the few sites in the Galapagos that is visited for its human history. There’s a very primitive post office here like no other post office I’ve ever seen. It’s old mail swap tradition goes all the way back to whaling days.

Whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in 1793. At the time whaling was a big industry, ships were typically gone for 2 years at a time. The Galapagos Islands were a frequent stop for these ships. Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the cape and the ships returning home would mail them.

Over the years thousands of ships have stopped to send and receive mail at Post Office Bay. Many have posted a sign of driftwood or other materials memorializing their visit. This is the only area in the Galapagos where graffiti is okay.

To carry on the tradition, letters are brought home with travelers and then mailed or hand delivered to the addressee. You can also leave letters here to see if they get delivered.

Post office on Floreana Island

Post office on Floreana Island

At the post barrel, our guide pulled out a handful of letters and passed them around. I found one that was addressed to a neighbor of one of the couples in our group in Germantown, Maryland. What are the chances? They were planning to hand deliver that one. Not many people from our area had been to Post Office Bay lately. We found just one addressed to nearby Corvallis, so we brought that home with us to mail.

Post Office on Floreana Island

Iz found a postcard that looked like it had been here awhile...

Post office on Floreana Island

I think our busy schedule was catching up with our teen. She looks very sleepy here doesn’t she?

Post Office on Floreana Island

Point Cormorant

This is a beautiful brown sand beach on Floreana Island.


Iz found this shell. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to keep anything from the islands. Bummer!

Iz in The Galapagos

What are these people doing?

looking for sting rays

Standing in line to be baptized?

looking for sting rays

Cooling off from the heat of the 70 degree day?

waiting for sting rays at Point Cormorant

None of the above.

We’re waiting for the sting rays to swim over our feet.

sting ray

We planted our feet firmly into the sand (to avoid stepping on any rays) and waited for them to swim in with the current. It was an amazing sensation having these soft creatures brush across my feet. You don’t want to step on one... ouch! They sting!


Cathy said...

Wow, what a trip!!! I'm loving following along with you through your photos.

Cindy said...

Hi Cathy. Thanks for following along. I'm so glad you're here!

Susan said...

Oh, that's just awesome about the stingrays! I would love to do that. And the post office! What a fun thing to go through the letters and find one to bring home. I'm so nosy I would have to stand there until I'd looked at every single one.

Cindy said...

Susan, Yep I'm nosy too. Isabel and I actually went back to the post office while the rest of the group was exploring a cave and looked through the postcards again.