I’ve been looking forward to writing this post ever since we arrived. If ever there was a time for envy regarding our travels, then this is it!!!
But how?????- How can I convey faithfully what we are living right now?
I guess it’s all about the moments.
Thus far, there’s been quite a few, so you might like to grab yourself a hot drink before you scroll on.
I have a confession to make before I begin. I’m sure I’ve alluded to it in prior posts but the fact is I am quite the scaredy cat! Perhaps more positively you could say I have a ‘vivid’ imagination- whatever you want to call it, it’s been quite limiting this past little while.
A few days ago however, on the island of Isabella, (and more incredibly) in it’s surrounding waters, I had an extraordinary adventure where that four-letter F word hardly featured a jot!
There might have been a slight heart flutter and sharp intake of breath as a shark swam underneath me, then another little start as a Green Sea Turtle took me by surprise, but essentially that was about it.
Ha ha FEAR, take that!
Again I return to the difficulty in describing all of this…
There’s the simple black and white tally of species viewed- I’ve already told you about the first day!!! Then there are the subtle and not so subtle moments, like “Sally” squeezing past Murray’s legs and exploring our cockpit.
There’s the lying in our bunks and hearing the sea lions blowing bubbles underneath or just beside the boat. You can hear their intake of breath, a snort or in the distance them barking at one another. Before our adventure the other day I watched a juvenile male play chase the crabs. He would sneak up on them and almost make a ‘boo’ sound before swimming off with what I’m sure was a chuckle.
There’s sitting beside the Blue-Footed Boobies doing their mating dance- and it goes, lift one leg, put it down, lift the other, put it down, point tail in the air, outstretch wings and whistle! Do it all again and again to find, ‘the one’- at least for the season.
It’s seeing Giant Tortoise at all stages of growth, from around the size of my palm to the size of the table in our saloon. As humans, we’ll never actually see this process in its entirety, (a newborn to a full sized adult) because they live so much longer than we do. Almost slaughtered into extinction, (a few subspecies were) several islands now have a breeding protection program to help reinstate them to their former habitats. The tortoise we saw initially were inside these protection zones but as I walked along a trail to a place called El Muro de las Lagrimas-The Wall of Tears, I saw 5 of these wondrous beasts roaming, albeit it slowly but freely and in the wild.
Then there’s the Sea Turtles- seriously bigger than I ever realized existed, chewing the algae off rocks as I floated beside them. Not bothered, not actually interested in me at all. Their amazing heads, their exquisitely patterned shells, those flippers that float them along with almost imperceptible movement but with one flick can take them further away from you than you can imagine in an eye blink!
Imagine if you will, speeding along, (ha ha ha not on Slice of Life) but on a boat with “THREE 200 horse power engines”, (Seb was in heaven!!!!!) circling, then slowing right down and idling beside a 5 metre Manta Ray. Later, on the trip back in, we watched one launch itself right out of the water. That same trip we saw a fever of Golden Rays, (yes that is the collective noun for a group of rays) almost swimming as one, in perfect synchrony. They are apparently quite shy so we felt very lucky to see them.
We’ve seen penguins that I know should generally be found amongst the cold white stuff, yet here they are, sitting on the lava rocks white front presented to the sun rather than their black backs so they don’t get too hot!
It’s all been rather incredible to put it very mildly.
We’ve taken a few tours as previously mentioned but you don’t have to go far to see a pretty wide array of wildlife. Whilst visiting Isabella we saw iguanas, a penguin, sea lions, several Spotted Eagle Rays and White Tipped Reef Sharks and that was on the dinghy trip back to the boat! This wasn’t going far, just a few 100 metres.
We’ve just spent the last week in Santa Cruz in Puerto Ayora. This is the busiest and most populated Port in the Archipelago. The Iguanas here are like the Sea Lions in San Cristobal- they are EVERYWHERE!
As you walk along the main street there is a ‘fish market’ or fish stall where the local fishermen sell their catch. It’s basically a concrete platform with an awning over the top. Check out the picture below because you should be able to see- pelicans, frigatebirds, a Great Blue Heron, iguanas, sea lions and lava gulls.
We caught up with a Danish Boat we met in Panama who are friends with the Danish family we spent so much time with in the Caribbean. It’s been really wonderful to connect with other children again- and when I say really wonderful I really mean it!!!! We also met another family who’ve taken 6 months off to travel the world. A friend in Valencia put us in contact via Facebook and we met them in the local coffee shop- thank you Anja for thinking of us!
I could go on and on but I fear you may grow tired of my wildlife ramblings. It’s expensive to visit these islands and it’s an effort to get here but all that said, it really is quite remarkable. Mike left for Bermuda 5 days ago and Murray the Magnificent, as the kids like to call him, is with us until we get to the Marquesas. He has been and is an absolute pleasure to have onboard and I daresay we’d be quite lost without him-either that or back on land by now!!! Any really good photos should be credited to Murray too!
We’ve arrived back in San Cristobal after leaving the very rolly anchorage of Puerto Ayora. There’s a competition going on between the seal sleeping on the back and Seb snoring! Mike returns on the 22nd of June which gives us just over 2 weeks until we start the Pacific Crossing. I’m not going to say much more about that at this stage.
It’s market day here tomorrow and I need to be up early to purchase some good fruit and veggies so I’ll leave it there. I have to say it’s been so much fun recounting some very wonderful moments we’ve had in this incredibly unique part of the world.
For now, Slice of Life out!