Palabra del día: tiburónes
We wake up at 6:00 for breakfast, which has more of the usual spread as well as the blackberry juice I appear to be developing an addiction to. At our first stop of the day, we step onto the dark, slick rocks of Isla Lobos.
The small island is crowned by scrubby brush which houses a few dozen frigatebirds. On the pebbled trail, blue-footed boobies nest, including one which blocks our forward progress. We lay rocks across the trail to reroute other groups around the nest so she may hatch her eggs in peace.
Instead of the sea lions the island is named for, we happen upon a lone fur seal as we are clambering over the rocks to get around the booby nest. I am immediately enamored of the perky ears, large eyes, and bear-like roar that make this small sea lion so alien and unique.
Our trail ends at a pebbled beach on which marine iguanas warm up before they dive to find their algal grazing areas. We clamber back aboard the boat to move to our next location.
We arrive at Kicker Rock midmorning, giving us plenty of time to play in the deep waters off the fractured volcanic rock before we are tired. Kicker Rock is a large lava cone which has fractured off over time, forming a deep chasm through which divers and snorkelers may see several species of sharks and rays, as well as the vibrant reef life around the edge of the channel. The sun highlights the urchins in the water, as well as the less-than-friendly jellies in the area. Jellyfish as small as two centimeters and as large as 60 centimeters float languidly in the salt water outside our wetsuits. One of our group receives a jelly to the face during our adventure and must cut her snorkeling short to have it treated with vinegar in one of the zodiacs.
We pass through the canal, which echoes crazily with the static noise of schooling fish. Porcupinefish, balloonfish, and wrasse float lazily in the current, while a Galapagos reef shark and a few whiptail stingrays sweep the white sand bottom of the chasm.
At the far exit of the chasm, a green sea turtle grazes near the surface. Our group watches him as he feeds, a white-tip reef shark weaving its way under us. At one point, one of the sharks swims straight at me, swerving away only after coming within inches of my camera (I know, I should have moved). He comes nearby several times, and I realize that (once again) my camera is weirdly attracting wildlife. After discussing it with our guide, we decide that the shutter sound of my camera sounds much like the shark’s prey when in the water. With their poor eyesight, they must approach closely to appreciate the chemical and electromagnetic properties of their prospective prey.
We circle the outside of the monolithic structure, seeing a few birds, a lone sea lion air snorkeling, and two more sea turtles. By the time we leave the water, we are exhausted but exhilarated. We eat lunch before a break to move the boat to Isla San Cristobal. The red-orange sands hold a group of sea lions which are busily lounging in the warm sands.
A few of us kayak around the outer edge of the island. Out of our protected cove, the wind whips the waves into our face. We turn back, and I set course for the shore, at times blinking back salt tears as I try to see my heading. It isn’t until I am back at the shore that I realize that everyone else called a tinder to give them a tow. I am happy, if tired, but I am not sure I would have made it back to shore myself if I’d known the opportunity to do otherwise existed. We beach the kayaks, and another group attempts the choppy waters with no more success.
A small path at the back of the cove leads uphill on a rocky path to an overlook. Red-footed boobies nest in the trees here, and the plant life has the red-pink hue of a tropical sunset during the dry season.
Opuntias and lava lizards dot the landscape, which looks almost like the steep mountains of the Rockies of North America.
On our return to the boat, we are greeted with blackberry juice, cookies, and bite-size empanadas. The fare is delicious, though a shower is much more refreshing after the saltwater and humid walk. Later, dinner is delicious calamari, broccoli, rice, mushrooms, and salad. Though nothing I would ever eat at home, the meal is delicious.
Exhausted, I don’t even feel like reading before falling asleep next to my Other Half.