Day 12 in Ecuador

Friday in the Galapagos IslandsIt was quite a night with the ship rolling to and fro and at one point my stainless steel water bottle went flying to the other side of the room with a crash, right off my night table. Fortunately I cultivated sea legs back when I was younger and crewed on racing sailboats, so it doesnt usually take too long to adapt to this type of movement, but still it was a bit intense.

After breakfast we got prepared for our morning excursion to the west side of Isla Espanola. We boarded what they call “Pangas” – which are rubber Avons – and did a dry-exit onto an old concrete staircase leading up to the beach. There were sea lions literally everywhere – you had to be careful where you stepped. And then there were the Christmas iguanas everywhere – named for their red and green coloration. And then the little lizards everywhere, and then the gulls and natural boobie birds (their feet are gray, not blue) and many other birds. We walked very slowly along this path shooting pictures left and right, and at least 6 other tour groups were already ahead of us or following us behind. There were a lot more people using this area than I had expected to see. At least 6 other tour boats were anchored in the water near ours.

We had no rain but high overcast, which was actually a blessing. Tatiana was highly knowledgeable on all the animals and birds and their life cycle, etc. She’s truly an amazing young woman. She pointed out many different birds who were hiding their chicks or egg underneath them, and taught us much about each animal we saw. She pointed out the natural “blow hole” created by a crack in the lava along the edge of the island, and we all happily snapped pictures.

Coming out the trail the same way we went in, the sky cleared off and the sun became quite intense. We caught lots more pictures and then finally boarded our “Panga” for the return to the yacht. They have a warm water hose on the stern boarding deck where we showered off sandy feet and packs, then placed our shoes in the shoe rack outside the main deck dining entrance, and THEN partook in our mid-morning snack of unhealthy food they had waiting for us. The bartender is amazed I won’t drink the artificial drinks they serve. I stick to my water, but I do munch on the fava beans they offer – all the rest is garbage in my opinion.

Our yacht quickly pulled anchor and motored over to the east side of Isla Espanola, and after lunch we had the opportunity to kayak, so I didn’t miss it! I love to kayak! The Ukrainian man, Sergey, and I went together. Apparently he had never kayaked before, but he did quite well. We paddled over to the base of the large point of land where so many other tours were already snorkeling and went the opposite direction from them. We immediately spotted about 4 or 5 blue-footed boobies. Apparently they’re not supposed to be around this time of year, so it was fantastic to see them. There were also a couple of young seals rolling and playing in the water, and it was a hoot to watch their antics. Many crabs of every size and color were scaling the rock walls, and we had to be careful because all of a sudden you’d round a corner and there would be a cave that would try to such you into its cavernous depths with the water’s current. It was truly a beautiful paddle, but after about 20 minutes we headed back to the yacht so we could go snorkeling. Most of the rest of our group was already out seeing the underwater sights.

As soon as the London couple returned with their kayak, the four of us headed over to the Cliffside and began snorkeling – this time we were in for a real treat! The visibility was about 80’ though there was still a slight amount of particulate matter in the water column. The fish were so plentiful you could look in any direction and see 10’s if not 100’s of them, in every shape and color imaginable! It was snorkeling at it’s finest! We meandered along the splash zone enjoying fish in large schools, small schools, rainbow colored, camouflage green colored, you name it we saw it, until we snorkeled almost past the end of the large point and were getting fairly close to shore. Our tenders picked us up in the “pangas” and shuttled us back to the yacht.

Lunch was served as our yacht motored its way back to the western part of Isla Espanola where we all boarded the “pangas” again to head to the perfectly white sand beach, where the sea lions were lazing around in droves and one young babe was hunting for its mother. Walked the beach for about 20 minutes, then decided to go snorkeling. Donning snorkel gear I headed out to the large rock just offshore, and saw 5 Manta Rays and a host of sea cucumbers, as well as many of the same types of fish we had seen earlier on the day’s first snorkel.

Came back to the beach and stretched out with a towel on the white coral “sand”, and fingered the coral powder. It has such an amazing feel and texture to it – quite different than sand. Kristina, of the Toronto couple, came and joined me, and from our vantage point we could watch all the snorkelers and boats, gaze at the ocean’s incredible turquoise water, and see the sea turtles and rays swimming below the surface. What a spectacular afternoon!

Finally, we boarded the “Pangas” and went back to the yacht, and the hot tub was ready!!!! Talk about living the life! The hot tub is on the top deck, which is an open air deck except for the canopy which covers about 2/3rds of it. The maximum capacity for the tub is supposed to be three people, but we squeezed 5 people in, laughing hysterically and waving wilding to the other tourists in other boats as our yacht motored away into the sunset with us in the hot tub on the top deck. We felt sorry for them as we were living the life and they had no hot tub on their boat. Talk about being on the other side of the fence…it felt very strange to be with, for the moment, the group that seemed to have it all!
Showered the salt stickiness off and joined everyone in the communal area of the dining room for a briefing on Saturday’s itinerary, and then a celebratory toast to Kristina and Alan for their 10th Anniversary, and a special dinner in their honor. I sat with them at their table and Sergey joined me there. After dinner and visiting, the Holland couple were watching part 3 of the BBC documentary on the Galapagos Islands. I watched a part of it with them, but then turned in for the night. The seas are really rocky and I was starting to feel slightly nauseated, so decided it was time to lie down.

With one hand crammed in between the wall and my mattress and using that as an anchor, I rode through the night fairly well, waking once early in the wee hours (aroud 3:30 EST) when a large wave tossed the yacht so violently that it knocked over the heavy wooden desk chair (was that a shock wave from the Chilean earthquake?), which I decided to leave lying on the floor for the night because it couldn’t fall any further.

Tomorrow we go to Isla Floreana – which means “Charles”, and which is supposed to be the only island to have the last living mockingbirds that gave him the insight into his theory of evolution.

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About sayslife

On Sabbatical to live out some Bucket List dreams. Life just keeps zooming along, and friends keep passing away. Time to live never seems enough, as the daily duties always seem to keep calling. Now I'm changing that. Gonna see the world. Come along for the ride - you're invited :)
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