Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Santiago Island, Egas Point, Espumilla Bay

Egas Point

7:00 Breakfast
8:00 Wet landing sandals, black beach, fur seals
Snorkeling off of the beach
11:00 Back on Board
11:30 Lunch

Espumilla Bay 
1:30 Wet landing – closed shoes, bird watching, rocky trail
3:30 Back on board
4:00 Snorkeling off the dinghy Bucanero Cove
5:00 Back on board
6:30 Dinner
Hawai’i has black sand beaches, but I have never been to the islands that have them. Today was my first experience with a black sand beach and it is awesome. It is far from my bleached blonde sandy grained expectations as one can get. Watching the black grains crawl up between your toes as you walk not only massages your feet, but tickles too. Perhaps the tickle in the novelty of it all. I hated leaving it for the trail we were to follow, but we were promised fur sea lions misnamed as fur seals so it was a trade-off. Walking through trails intersecting through various plant life forms, we were given our botany lesson for the morning. That is about as long as it lasted too. If I have not mentioned it, there are no seals in the Galapagos Islands, only sea lions; get it straight or Omar will punish you later.

Soon the smooth trails were over and we were back on the rocks spotting the iguanas, crabs, finally the fur seals, which we learned were mislabeled. They are fur sea lions. Other than some longer hair, they look basically the same. When they are dry, they are a desert sand color, darkening to almost black looking when they are wet. There were a number of babies, many with black rings around their eyes. They are so adorable.  

Those that chose to snorkel went off of the beach. There was another tour group returning at the same time. Some of the men looked about ready to have a stroke. Their bellies individually were larger than the diameter of my body if I bent in half to double my size. Panting away, I felt sorry for them as I know the feeling, but without the girth. One man who was probably around 70 years old and weighed a good 280 lbs if an ounce, flopped on a rock never moving a muscle the entire time we remained on the beach. I hope he did not stroke out and no one noticed. While our group went snorkeling, I sat under a tree reading. One of the other group members joined me. He is a professor of paleontology at Ohio State and a woman with the group is from the same university, but is a botanist.

Lunch started with a soup, chicken noodle, fresh but not flavorful. This led to the rest of lunch being extremely memorable; we had shrimp and ceviche. That was quite a treat. When we finished lunch, we sailed to Espumilla Bay giving us a reprieve to sun bathe, rest, or whatever we wanted. My goal was to get a nap in since my nights are interrupted with the anchor being raised and lowered. It is futile to get twenty solid winks with the noises going on all around.

Getting ready for the next shore excursion, we were told it would be a bit wild as the waves were rougher than they have been. For wet landings where we need our sneakers or closed toe shoes, we go barefoot onto the dinghy carrying our shoes. Being forewarned, I had my camera in a plastic bag and then in an Ikea nylon bag. Ron was not ready yet and only 8 people can travel by dinghy at a time, so I went in the first of the 2 trips. When we arrive for a wet landing, the crew does their best to get as close to shore as possible, we jump out, hoping not to get our pants wet, and then run on shore. Most people wear shorts, but I have been rolling up my pant legs. Just as we arrived and were told to jump out, a large unexpected wave came along and soaked all of us with all of our things. There was about a foot of water in the dinghy floor sloshing along with the whim of the currents. My first instinct was to dry my camera; even the plastic bag did not completely protect it. Covered in wet clothes with salty water did not contribute much to my sleep deprived mood, but the others’ good nature soon helped evaporate my melancholy feelings.

The walk went from flat ground, sandy, but comfortable to slightly rocky with a 20% incline. It was when it started to get rockier and the incline steeper that I started wondering if I was going to make it. Saving me from humiliation one of the woman ahead of me kept stopping along the way for photos of things I had previously photographed, but it gave me a respite. We saw a number of different birds and lizards. I am convinced that unless you video the entire walk, there is no way to remember all that you saw. In retrospect it was a worthy outing and beneficial exercise in spite of my shortness of breath.

Our return trip was less traumatic; the tides relaxed their eagerness to give those waves like they were never going to see us again. There was a short time for the snorkelers to ready themselves before going to dive in the cove. Both the crew and I were looking forward to the peace and quiet once they had gone. After a half hour, they were back. Something was happening to cause the water to create little to know visibility with the exception of a number of jellyfish, requiring them to return early.   

We only have 1 more full day on the boat before returning to Quito. As much as I have enjoyed all of the people, getting on and off the boat with wet landings is getting tiring. I had already washed one set of pants, 2 shirts, and a pair of socks, but it took 3 days for all of them to dry. It will be pleasant to get into clothes that do not have salt water or detergent residue clinging to the fibers.

Internet withdrawal is setting in, but so far I have fought it off. Today, I had phantom vibrations in my pocket thinking it was my smartphone ringing. When I get back to Quito, Ron will have to rip me away from the computer, but I want to get caught up with everything.

Memo to self: make a list of everyone’s e-mail addresses.
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