Some snorkelling, spirited sea lions and short spells of seasickness
27.10.2015 - 28.10.2015 27 °C
Not-the-captain's log: Tuesday 27 October, 10pm
An exciting day has turned into a pretty painful night on the Encantada.
We met our guide and our fellow passengers at the airport. Guide Rodrigo is a rotund and cheerful mainlander, and our small boat has one other Australian, two Swiss friends, a couple of Dutch girls, and three Austrian colleagues, a total of ten. It's a fairly young group; the oldest would be one of the Austrians (37) and I'm probably the youngest. And there's six crew - Rodrigo, a mechanic, a chef, the captain and his deputy, and a 'cabin boy', who is actually a girl.
We were allocated our cabins and spent the next three hours on board watching (harmless) sharks circle the boat and waiting for the food packages to arrive. The small boat was rocking around quite a bit in the tiny waves - a prelude for later events.
But we finally got going, and enjoyed the sunny two-hour trip to Dragon Hill, our first stop. Some frigate birds hitched a ride with us, too.
When the boat pulled up, we noticed the Flamingo there as well - the Macindoes' boat. We ended up running into them on dry land too.
Dragon Hill is so named because of the masses of land iguanas that live there. We saw a total of zero, a reminder that nothing is guaranteed, I suppose, but we did see marine iguanas and a great view.
We went snorkelling from the beach. The visibility wasn't great but the water was fairly warm, and we saw lots of small fish and a sea snake.
After dinner we played a ten-person game of Uno as the boat made its way to the largest island in the archipelago, Isla Isabela. The game was only broken up by people getting seasick. Caroline threw up a couple of times but seems to be a bit better now. I'm very close, actually, and I think the most reliable cure is sleep.
Wednesday 28 October, 9pm
Another brilliant day and a rocky night. We started at small, rocky Tintoreras Island, where hundreds of marine iguanas and sea lions lay across our path, forcing us to climb over.
We also saw this mother and baby sea lion make a trip from the beach to the sea. And our first Galapagos penguins, and a Sally Lightfoot crab.
In Puerto Villamil, the main settlement of Isla Isabela, we saw a flamingo feeding lagoon. They're very graceful animals.
Less graceful are the giant tortoises. We saw another breeding centre next, which is rehabilitating different species than those the Charles Darwin Research Station.
I haven't slowed this down at all
A walk through wetlands took us to a lovely wide beach, where pelicans were diving for fish.
Back on the boat for lunch, and then off again for more snorkelling. It was again a bit disappointing, but we saw a few large parrot fish.
The biggest highlight was yet to come, a contender for the best thing we've done for the entire three months so far.
From the beach, we went snorkelling again with fellow Australian Ben, while the others had cocktails in town. There were few fish, but we saw a couple of penguins up close, and two frolicking sea lions. And the sea lions certainly saw us too - they wanted us to play with them, and kept swimming towards us only to turn away at the last second, and swam rings around our legs, and snorted water in our faces. They even followed us to shore when we eventually got out. Luckily Ben had an underwater camera that he used to take this footage:
Courtesy of Ben from Perth
Sea lions playing on the beach
Found lounging on all the town's benches
We even found one on the back of our boat
Afterwards, we walked into the small town, and found our boat mates in a bar by another beach. They were quite inebriated by the time we got back to the boat for dinner.
It's another rough night, but we had a bit better idea of what to expect and how to deal with it, and we're going to bed early. Poor Caroline still vomited once though.