Today marked our brief return to the real world... or as close to it as you get in the Galapagos! We visited the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz first thing in the morning to check out a couple species of giant tortoises and learn about the efforts to preserve the native and endemic species of the Galapagos. It's not an easy task, between the rats and the cats (and the hats?), so the nice folks at CDRS need all the help they can get!
With some time to kill before our next activity, Leigh and I strolled through a small stretch of shops full of t-shirts and passed a fish market where a couple sea lions and pelican were wisely hanging around for scraps. We also walked by some kids making giggling and making fat noises (good to know that one's universal) and I saw Zuleta cheese in the grocery store!
To round out the morning, we took the option to visit the Tomás de Berlanga Bilingual School. Mostly because Leigh wanted to grill the students there about their math education. The visit was really nice! The school was a strange mix of rustic and modern - all of the classrooms were in these beautiful open-air buildings with trails between them, but the two kids showing Leigh and I around were super into selfies.
After lunch at a hacienda in the highlands, we stopped at a partially-collapsed lava tube and drove to a nearby giant tortoise reserve to spot some wild tortugas migrating. Honestly, I was a little concerned we'd have to hunt to spot one after our previously lack-luster tortoise sighting, but I got over that pretty quickly. It turns out these things are EVERYWHERE! Like one every 10 feet... I had no idea they were so densely packed! On the drive alone there were so many on the road that I felt like I was living Mario Cart. Soooo we had no trouble spotting wild tortoises! Also, here's a fun fact: If you happen to have an empty giant tortoise shell you can totally fit an adult human inside it if you really try.