Ecuador, Day 7. Galapagos Islands.

We traveled overnight to Santiago Island and learned that rocking while sleeping is both a side to side and head to toe affair. Your best bet is literally just to roll with it, from one side of your bed to the other, hoping you don’t roll right out. Up at 6, soon taking the pangas to a long sandy beach lining the bay where the boat had anchored. We walked the length of it, the sand littered with ghost crabs, small, quick buggers that scuttle into holes almost before you’ve even seen they’re there. Cool little birds (I’m showing my Audubon knowledge now) that ran out into the surf, and then dashed madly away from the waves as they came in, over and over again. Griffin and Oakley followed suit. The Boobies were out too, diving after fish like sleek missiles, dropping straight down into the water.

The beach was book-ended by lava jetties where underwater sea life gathers, so we suited up in our snorkel gear and headed out. We immediately found schools of fish, each a thousand strong. Flashing silver, they moved as a whole, making room as we swam through and then closing the gap behind us. Griffin and I often dove down right through the middle of them, a wall of life surrounding us. Fawn, the boys and I were swimming quite near each other and suddenly a sea lion joined us, clearly coming to play. The water was perfectly clear and Griffin immediately dove down to be closer to her. Suddenly I’m watching him below me, the sea lion swimming circles around him, both of them twisting sideways, swimming together. Incredible to watch my son doing that, to see him experience it. A while later Fawn and the boys continued on while I headed back to the beach. At one point a puffer fish was swimming near, maybe 10 feet away. It was calm, the water clear and still, with no other fish around. A small, isolated moment. As I watched him, a Blue Footed Boobie suddenly shot into the water from above to catch it, a flash of lightning directly in front of me. It was one of the most unexpected things I’ve ever seen, shockingly fast. Incredibly, the fish got away, and the Boobie bobbed back up to the surface. I came up too and as he lifted from the water, he flew directly over my head, not 6 inches above me. Getting back on the beach was a little tricky with fins, with large rocks hidden under the waves of the shallow shore. I eventually decided to just let the waves roll me up onto the beach. Everyone had a pretty good laugh at that and I had more sand in the crack of my butt than I’m willing to discuss. An early lunch during which the boat traveled over to Puerto Egas. Another walk then, this one over mostly flat terrain. The path was sandy, leading to a lava coastline farther along. Again with many different types of lava – sharp spires, round and smooth boulders, undulating waves that had solidified, craggly rocks, etc. Here they had formed tunnels in a few places, the water from the ocean rushing 50 feet inland, spraying up, and retreating again.

Many sea lions here, sleeping lazily, like they had nothing better to do. Marine iguanas too, a different subspecies and the biggest yet. There were many cool, small tide pools on this island, with small birds pecking for food and Sally Lightfoot crabs crawling creepily (it’s the only way they crawl) along the lava at the edges. A little further along was a baby fur sea lion, a different and apparently more rare species. Whatever, it was crazy cute. It was soon joined by two others, making a trio of big-eyed, furry, barking baby sea lion goodness. Griffin approached them, and they didn’t shy away. In fact one of them took notice of Griffin and became curious in return. Griffin got down on his belly on a small outcrop of rock directly in front of them. He had his camera and was taking pictures of them up close, less than 12 inches away now. One of them took a waddling step and leaned in closer still. Quietly, in one of those moments when time seems to slow down just a bit, they inched even closer, staring at each other, Griffin and the baby sea lion. Soon they were actually nose to nose, touching. They stayed that way, each looking at the other in an amazing, magical moment. I will never forget it.

By 4 we were back on board and headed for San Cristabel, a long 12 hour cruise across the open water between islands. The ocean was rougher, the swells deeper. All of us started to feel sick and dinner was ruled out (though Gary was robust enough to endure it). I went to the briefing at 6:45 and took notes. Gathering the emigration forms that Peter needed, I started to feel sicker still and barely delivered the paperwork before I got back upstairs and threw up. Griffin had been in the room with me, but I could hear a mad dash of footsteps as he bolted, retreating into Fawn and Oakley’s room. I couldn’t blame him, I was being loud and completely disgusting.  (Thankfully, I felt better and went straight to bed.)

(March 12, 2012.)

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2 responses to “Ecuador, Day 7. Galapagos Islands.

  1. That’s it? Waaa. I want more. Now. 🙂
    Love the shot of the two sea lions nosing each other with Grif and the third one getting close. The one of your boat is terrific and the sunset too. Moments in time.

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