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Saturday, July 04, 2009

More Galapagos

I meant to correct my first comment about the water taxis here at San Cristobal. The taxis aren't the fancy inflatables that we initially noticed running back and forth to the dinghy dock. Those belong to all the small cruise/tour boats. The water taxis are pangas with biminis, and have names like Sea Baby, Pio-Pio, and Petrel. We can either call "Taxi Aquatico" on VHF 14, or usually we just stand out on deck and wave one down. Sea Baby is our favorite because he's a very personable guy with a distinctive, more African, look, and Pio-Pio is the only one that has lights for running at night (but that doesn't stop the others from running until 11 PM!).

This past week we went for another snorkel at La Loberia. By the time we got there the sky was beginning to cloud up so we didn't have as much color (and it didn't feel as warm), but the turtles were all still there! We mostly hung out with them and watched one that was eating sea grass off the rocks. She got so close that John could have easily reached out and touched her (but didn't). I say "she", because we ran into Jorge (our land tour guide) and the folks off Valiam (accent over the "i"), and he told us that sea turtles are the opposite of the land tortoises regarding their size. With the sea turtles, the males are smaller than the females so as not to drown the female when they mate in the ocean. Isn't Nature thoughtful that way.

On Thursday we snorkeled in the cove below Frigatebird Hill, just off one of the trails at the Interpretive Center, so an easy walk from the anchorage. This is a little deeper water encircled by lava rock with some interesting nooks and crannies. No sea turtles there, but sea lions to swim with, and we each managed to spot an eel just before we were ready to get out of the cold water. The latter were hiding in rock crevices with only about six inches showing, and we haven't gotten the book out to try to identify them yet. There were also a couple of large schools of sardines and another small fish, and a smaller school of baby barracuda. I have to laugh when I think of how blase I've become about sharing the water with sea lions since just hearing about friends who did it years ago used to frighten me. I couldn't imagine getting in the water with anything that big, but it hasn't been scary at all. Of course we haven't been to places with alpha bulls, and the Galapagos sea lions in general seem smaller than the California sea lions. They seem to do nothing but sleep and play. I can't imagine when they find the time to go out for a meal. Maybe they do all their hunting at night, but it seems like even then all they do is blow raspberries on Nakia's hull and play with our rocker stopper (waking us up at 4 AM). Oh yes, we finally put out the rocker stopper to combat the swell that sometimes wraps in here.

Last night we went in after the 5 PM HF radio net to have a beer and watch the sun set. We ran into Peter and Ruth from Mud Skipper, invited them to join us at a balcony table at Miconia (the nicest restaurant in town, in our view), and ended up staying for dinner. Then we had a $1 soft serve ice cream cone and walked down to watch the festivities on the malecon. It looked like the whole city had turned out for music and speeches celebrating Ecuador's independence day. We're hoping they continue the activities through the weekend so we can pretend it's all for the Fourth of July in Los Estados Unidos de Norte America!

Happy Fourth everyone - have some BBQ'd salmon and strawberry shortcake for me, and cauliflower, shrimp, rice salad for John (that's tough to duplicate since it's a family recipe)!

Linda and John