It's our last day onboard, and we complete our roundtrip sailing with a return to Santa Cruz. But first we call at Post Office Bay on Floriana, a broad sandy beach with a mail collection point used by sailors since the 17th century. It's a Galapagos tradition to send yourself an unstamped, self-addressed postcard from here and wait to see how long it takes to arrive home.
The "mailbox" -- a wacky collection of old barrels and wooden poles bearing ersatz flags and travelers' graffiti -- works on an honor system. As you drop your postcard off, you pick up one eft by a previous visitor from your homeland, and post it on to them using a local stamp when you get back. I'm pleased to report that honorable people still exist; our postcard arrived less than a week after we did, and I'm still exchanging e-mails with the Englishwoman whose card I posted on to her.
Our last port of call before Baltra is Santa Cruz, where we have time for a gentle stroll, a drink in a cafe with a very pretty garden, and a look at the wooden carvings, keyrings, soft toys, turtle-shaped earrings and other goodies for sale in the capital's few shops.
Then it's time to tender back to the ship for our last-night festivities. These begin as we sip pre-dinner drinks in the Discovery Lounge, where we're treated to a photo-montage of our trip, accompanied by music and featuring not only pictures of the wildlife and places we've seen but also the people we've traveled with. A lovely touch is that we're each presented with a free CD of this to take home with us.
The deck-side barbecue which follows is another treat. On tables stylishly laid with snowy cloths and fine china, we feast on freshly-grilled fish, chops, barbecued ribs, and chicken pieces accompanied by crisp salad and even crispier baked potatoes, and washed down with bucketsful of efficiently served wine.
After dinner, we return indoors for a nightcap and a colorful display of Folklorique performed by a local band of very pretty dancers and snake-hipped musicians -- a splendid end to an unforgettable cruise.
Photo of Post Office Bay appears courtesy of www.ecuador-travel.net.