The 300 decibel sound of the anchor being lifted up and the engines starting at 4.30am woke me up, and I tried my best to get back to sleep, an effort in vain. Sigh!
Our wake up call was hilarious! Washington’s voice, our guide, boomed over the PA: “Wake up and Get up pleeease, Buon Giorno Italiani! Good morning English people, blah blah blah in Hebrew (for the Israelis), Buenos dias! Wake up and get up pleeeasee…” he even had background music playing! This went on for ten minutes! I was giggling hard – I was up before the wake up call (couldn’t sleep) and out of the room, and what was making me laugh was the thought of Hubs lying in bed listening to Washington say all that – for ages! Mornings are not Hubs’ favourite part of the day!! Hee heee!!
Up early to a delicious breakfast of fresh mango, watermelon, freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs, ham and cheese, and cereals. Best of all, there was fresh milk for our tea! We then went to La Plaza island. Firstly we were in the dingy along North Plaza where we saw heaps of sea lions playing in the water and they were following our boat, playing. It was so cool!
We then had a ‘dry landing’ (straight from dingy onto a make-shift pier) to South Plaza. The landscape of this island is something else. Cactus trees and red coloured ground covering among black lava rocks made a stunning setting. We saw so many land Iguanas – both males with their yellow necks, and the smaller charcoal coloured females. The males protect their territory which is usually two or three cactus trees. The cactus trees hold water, so during the dry season, the females come looking for water, and when they find it at the cactus tree, the males jump on them and mate. Bloody men luring women in like that! Magnificent creatures that live to over 100 years old.
We also saw a bachelor colony of sea lions – this is their oasis, where the men come after they are tired of being the dominate male always protecting their territory. They hang out at South Plaza for maybe a year, or more, build up their strength again, and go back to become the dominate male, which takes a lot of energy. We saw heaps of cute baby sea loins too – oh my God I wanted to take one home! So sweet and gorgeous. And they are so playful in the water, it’s great to watch.
We spent about two hours at South Plaza – and it was mesmerizing. As Hubs said, if going to the Galapagos is the only thing we did this trip, it would have been worth it. This place is special and am humbled for having the opportunity to come here. It really is a once in a lifetime unforgettable trip.
Hubs and I are both on natural highs and we are loving it loving it loving it. It nice to see her always smiling – for no reason except for “LOOK WHERE WE ARE!!!”. Damn sight better than having her argue in Arabic over someone ripping us off A$5. Happy happy travellers.
After a lunch of fresh tuna, potatoes, rice and salad with a poached pear for dessert, we sailed to another spot and went snorkelling. Some people say I’m a bit crazy, but after jumping in that FREEZING water to go snorkelling, I can now confirm that I am officially mad. You’d have to be to go snorkelling in water that is about 15 degrees! We had long wetsuits on too and it was still farking cold!!
There were white tipped sharks in this snorkelling spot – seeing any kind of shark when in the ocean is not my idea of a good time. The visibility was terrible – the water was so murky…so when you see a shark it is right in front of you! We also saw huge eagle rays – like the school teacher on ‘Finding Nemo’! At first, seeing the eagle rays freaked me out – they have huge huge HUGE stinger on their tail. All I kept thinking is: this is how Steve Irwin died. In murky water, seeing one of those when it is merely one metre away from you, was a little daunting.
We all climbed back onto the boat with blue lips, shivering, only a few minutes away from certain hypothermia, and went to the next dive spot. I had to laugh and laugh hard at Hubs climbing back into the dingy – she got her legs in the wrong way around and was having such a hard time getting a leg over – looking a like an unco – hilarious!
The second dive spot had excellent visibility and we saw thousands of fish – a huge school of them swimming altogether, as well as angel fish and parrot fish, and eagle rays. WOW! It was still ridiculously cold, stupidly cold, suicidally cold, but the fish were amazing! Back into the dingy and to a third dive spot. I was not that keen to get back in – I mean, the temperature of the water was just stupid. But Washington our guide said just five minutes in the water, so I jumped in and again, I was amazed by all the beautiful fish and the number of them. The schools of fish were huge!
Back on board Yolita II and straight into a hot shower – aaaahhhh – my blood began to circulate again. Later we found out that the Galapagos Islands are experiencing a phenomenon called La Nina, the opposite to El Nino, and are experiencing the coldest weather in 25 years! OMG! I mean, I don’t swim in the ocean in Perth until the end of January, when it’s heated up to about 24 degrees! It’s sooo cold in the water, that first jump in takes your breath away! The sea temperature is currently between 14 and 16 degrees. It can be as warm as 30 degrees during El Nino. Damn!
I walked past the kitchen to see Pedro and to see what he was whizzing up in the kitchen. After all, eating is important! He has something white in the blender and I asked him what it was. He got a spoon and moved it to my mouth, motioning me to taste it. I tried to slide my finger across the spoon, but he was having none of it. Again he put the spoon to my mouth and I gingerly tasted it and then screamed “Oh YUCK!! YUCK YUCK YUCK!!!!!!” spitting out the tiny bit of raw hot garlic I had tasted. So gross! The guys in the kitchen, Naldo and cheeky Pedro were in fits of laughter! Cheeky buggers!!
We spent some time teaching our new onboard friends Hilan, Etay (both from Israel) and Tim and Susan (both from Germany) how to play dominoes and played dominoes until the briefing before dinner.
After a nice dinner, we watched part one of a documentary about the Galapagos Islands – it was very interesting. The Galapagos Islands basically sit on the equator and experience only wet and dry season. We are in dry season now – and a good time to be here to see mating, nesting, and baby birds and baby seals. But not good for sea temperatures! The islands are also on a volcanic hot spot – which is how the islands were created, and continue to be created. Each year, the island move about 30 feet, which is phenomenal! Some islands “die” and others are created as the volcano explodes and the molten lava creates a new island. For example, the island of Espagnol is a dying island. This is the island where 30,000 albatrosses come to nest, so I hate to think what may happen to them when that island finally sinks.
English Naturalist Charles Darwin created his theory on evolution, a theory that changed history and the way we think about how humans came to be, after visiting the Galapagos Islands in 1534 AD. Pretty amazing.
Today the wake up call was even earlier at 6.00am. I slept really well for the first few hours, then the sound of the anchor going down woke me and I tossed and turned for hours after that. So I was up before the wake up call, and miraculously, so was Hubs.
Another good breakfast, then off to Espagnol island for a ‘dry’ landing. We saw heaps of sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and the amazing albatross and baby albatross. Some people were saying that baby albatrosses are ugly – but I disagree! They are balls of brown scruffy fluff and I think they look cute in an emu kind of way. I like them!
The weather was not so kind – cloudy and windy. But that didn’t matter too much, it just made the cliff lined coast look more dramatic. We saw a huge blow hole which was just near the ‘albatross airport’, the cliff where the albatrosses fly off from. They are big heavy birds and with the wind currents, they can’t take off from the ground, but rather need to run off a cliff to start flying.
We stood and watched the waves crash against the cliff and the blow hole where the water would shoot directly up in a fierce spray about 25 metres, making a loud ‘whooshing’ noise. It was cool.
Hubs screamed out, “oh no!! I’ve been excremented!!” – she had stepped on some sea loin poop and was wearing open toe shoes….groooooosssssss. She was so grossed out! It dried before she got a chance to get near the water to wash it off her toes! Poor Hubs! Ha hahahaha!
We then watched part two of the interesting Galapagos documentary on the boat, then had a siesta. Hubs and I siesta’d for too long and missed the group going out snorkelling! We woke up just as the dingys were leaving. We got our wetsuits on in record time and one dingy came back for us and took us to meet the group.
WHY are we jumping in this crazy cold water again?? Good question! Because we wanted to see more eagle rays, see baby seals swimming with us and play with us, see star fish, and massive schools of fish. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. Because it’s so cold, we don’t stay in the water very long, thankfully! Back in the dingy and off to snorkelling spot number two where we saw more of the same. Then onto the third snorkelling spot where we saw sharks!! Three white tipped reef sharks!! AAARRRGGGHHHH. i don’t care what kind of sharks they are, I didn’t want to see any in the water when I’m in it! As soon as i saw the sharks, I turned around and started swimming the other way. I’d seen them, now I was getting out of there.
We snorkelled around a little rock island and over the other side of the island from where we started the swim was a warm current. Yeeeeeesssss! It was so nice to feel water that was not ice-cold for once! It didn’t last long unfortunately and the current was gone…
In the afternoon we went to a beautiful beach called Garden Beach. The weather was grey and the we only saw the sun for short bursts, so it wasn’t sun baking weather. Hubs and I didn’t fancy getting wet and cold again snorkelling – so we just enjoyed the beach with the others from the boat and some resident sea lions. It was nice. The sand was white and fine and oh-so-soft. Beautiful.
Back on the boat for some dominoes, where I kicked butt again 🙂 and our briefing and dinner.