We set sail very early this morning at 3am. Even though we were fast asleep at that moment, the departure was unmistakable: lots of rocking and rolling ensued. The setting of the anchor after we arrived was also unmistakeable; the huge chain clanged like a horde of angry prisoners trying to break free. We’re going to enjoy hearing the early every morning (or the middle of the night).
Breakfast was a buffet, featuring many varieties of the local fruit. Then we boarded the zodiacs for a quick trip to the tiny island of Plaza. Because it is so close to Santa Cruz where many tourists arrive, it had a somewhat developed concrete pier. It was hard to use, because the sea lions laying on it, didn’t want to share. Flat spots are precious around here. It was a beautiful, blue sky day and the sea was a bright aquamarine. The lava rocks on the seashore were a glossy dark. Further up a succulent ground cover glowed bright red. The scenery was magnificent.
We hiked along the rocky shore watching where we put our feet. No one wants to trip and fall down and hurt themselves, especially here. Every time I stopped and looked up, I caught the eye of an iguana, a sea lion, a lizard, a bright red crab, a bird. That’s what’s so great about the Galapagos. Animals are everywhere and don’t give a hoot whether you are there or not. The seals were napping on the softest spots they could find, which wasn’t easy because most of the shoreline was full of lava rocks. It’s so hard for them to climb up very high on the lava boulders with their flippers.
We had about 2-½ hours ashore and then it was time to move on, because the day trippers who stay in hotels in town were arriving. The schedule here is tightly regulated, so that not too many people are in any particular spot at any one time. They’re hoping that the local animals won’t get too stressed by all the human activity.
After a three hour sail the afternoon activity started with a wet landing on a sandy beach on Santa Fe littered with seals. They generated a huge stink and lots of noise. Two of them approached and kissed our legs: charming and oh, so cute. We hiked up the hill to find a pale yellow iguana, somewhat larger than the black ones we saw in the morning. It made a sound like a sneeze and two large drops of “water” shot out of its eyes. These iguanas get a lot of salt in their systems near the seashore and this is the way their body removes it once again. A few fishing boats below us were besieged by masses of pelicans. They stayed for hand outs the whole time we were on Santa Fe. Commercial fishing in not allowed in the national park, but locals can fish for their own consumption. As we cruised back to the mother ship, we saw lots of life below us in the crystal clear water. Huge schools of rays had that distinctive kite shape and broke the surface of the water with their wing tips. Medium size sharks and turtles were also feeding beneath us. Seals porpoised through the water above them.