The first stop today was a mangrove swamp. The water was murky which prevented us from seeing much of what was probably there. Blue-footed boobies were huddled together on the rocks, strategizing on when it was time to get moving and fish for breakfast. Lots of preening was involved in their preparation. As we studied them more closely, we noticed that the shade of blue on their beaks and feet varied considerably. When they got going, it was quite a show. They circled the area, trying not to cast shadows over the schools of fish which would scare them and send them deep down and then dropping like a bomb to snag the stunned fish. At times they soared in formation like the Blue Angels when the school was large. Great fun to watch. Two-foot long sharks lurked near the mangrove roots, perhaps hiding from larger predators. At one especially productive area, it felt like we were watching commuters come out of Union Station. Larger sharks moved past as well as various kinds of rays. As always there was a myriad of water birds along the shore. I’ve started calling them “wendy birds” in honor of our fellow traveler who often seems to know their names as well as our guide. I can’t keep most of the names straight. Every so often a giant squirt of water shot out from some mysterious nook. These were the mollusks feeding, taking in the water and squirting it out again minus the good stuff.
On board, we took a quick spin through the galley and engine room. I have never been on a galley tour on a ship large or small that didn’t impress. In a space smaller than my kitchen they have been cranking out food three times a day plus a snacks for the eleven of us as well as the crew. Everything: bread, juices, fried plantains, is made from scratch They only provision once a week, taking food on board at the same time they are taking us on. Planning has to be precise.
In the afternoon we went on what may well be the last snorkeling adventure of this trip. The water was not as cold as last time and even had some bands of warmness here and there, but it was stirred up and difficult to see, especially frustrating for our photographers. We saw all manner of fish, many large enough to feed a family of four for a week. We time our snorkeling carefully. We wait until the day-trippers are about to leave and then the beach is ours.
When we returned to our cabin the stench was overwhelming. It smelled like a boys’ locker room! On the water, you must expect it to be humid and with the exception of yesterday’s fresh winds, it has been. Our clothing is sweaty and salty, sopping and damp, even the clothes we have not worn yet feel in need of a scrub. The cabin is so small there is nowhere to hang anything up larger than a pair of socks. I even had to finish drying them with a hairdryer. I feel sorry for the folks that will sit on the plane with us when we fly back to Quito. Perhaps they will smell just as bad.
After dinner Sylvia wanted us to see an owl, which hangs out at the living facilities of the navy base. It was our first excursion in the dark and we wondered if the real reason we were going was to cheer on our crew, who was playing a soccer game against some men from the base. We felt rather foolish wandering around in the dark looking for an owl which we never did find. But our crew seemed pleased that we stopped by to watch them play.