Blowholes and Birds and Birthdays

Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
Cruz del Sur

Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos Islands,
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

 With the new kids in tow we headed off for their first 6 am hike on Espanola Island - the only completely flat island.  We had a very long - three hour - hike, around Punta Suarez.   It was beautiful but oh so hot and I felt sorry for the new kids as it was their first outing in the heat and this one was too long and too hot.  We did see hundreds of pretty marine iguanas, both on land and a few swimming - that was special.  They are pretty huge and very colorful and, as with everything in the Galapagos, show no fear.  You had to watch where you stepped to make sure you did not step on them or trip over them.  We also saw lots of birds and their huge chicks and learned about siblingcide - where the parents have two eggs, two chicks and they wait a week and then decide which one they will keep because they can only sustain one.  Once decided - they kill one and nurture the other.  Nasty until you see the size of these chicks!  These are massive birds -some of  the chicks are over a foot tall and just cruise around screaming for more food.  Tough parenting one - two would be impossible.

The highlight was a gigantic blowhole - a cut in the cliff that fills with water with the wave action and every once in a while when the pressure builds up - it blows a huge stream of water, like a geyser, straight into the air.  I just wanted to jump off the cliff  into the blowhole to cool down.  It was searing hot.

The afternoon was spent on a different side of Espanola - even hotter in the area around Gardner Bay.  The feature here were zillions of black lizards on the rocks.  Zillions,  and I use that scientific term loosely.   We hurried through the hike because we knew that the reward was snorkelling in the Bay.  

The beach here was so beautiful with seals everywhere. When I went into the water some came in with me and swam in and around me.  When I say around me - they come just nearly touching close.  They don't actually rub your skin but you can feel their whole body against yours.  Incredible.  Then they often come straight at you - nose to nose.  That is a little scary because they are quite large and it feels really bizarre to be face to face with big black eyes and long whiskers.  They swim for fun it seems, then they fish and then they sleep - alot. I am hoping to collect enough Karma this go around to come back next time as a sea lion or seal in the Galapagos.

There were lots of rays here as well - sting rays in the really shallow water right next to the beach.  These too you have to watch for becuase it is easy to step on them -  there are so many.

The water in the Galapagos at this time of year is very warm, around 26 or 28 degrees ( I think that is the right temp - bathwater warm).  I am so glad we came in the hot and rainy season because the water was calm and warm.  In August, Enrique told us that the boat would be rocking and rolling non stop and the water is too cold to snorkel without a wetsuit.  We saw pictures of people on hikes bundled up in big jackets and hats.  I'll take the searing heat any day over the cold so no complaining from me. I was snorkelling in a long sleeve shirt because the sun is directly above - duhhhh - Ecuador - Equator! and my back would have fried because I liked to stay every minute possible in the water with these fabulous friends swimming around me.

 So many gratitude moments on this trip!

Back on board we had planned to celebrate Crystal's 30th birthday - the cook made her a fabulous cake but her friend Ashley had been sick all day and the new kids were really exhausted from their introduction to the 6 am starts and the heat.  Carolyn and I were lucky enough to have had many weeks, me, a few months, of heat so it did not zap us like it did some others who had flown directly to the Glapagos from afar.
The party idea was put on hold for a day and it was an early night for most.
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