Sunday 12 December
Scored BIG time in the snorkelling department this morning! While it was ridiculously cold (Nic couldn’t feel fingers or toes by the time she was done – they were yellow/white!), the snorkelling was simply magical. We saw so many green sea turtles, both below us and swimming amongst us, that we couldn’t keep track. A highlight for Nic was a huge old turtle swimming right up to her with his face only about a foot from hers, and they hovered, staring into each other’s eyes for about 10 seconds. Perfect. Unfortunately, the resident photographer was too far away, capturing some other magical moment on camera. Oh well. There were also curious, juvenile sea lions checking us out, and a few Galapagos penguins, flashing torpedo fast in front of us. Another highlight was watching the flightless cormorant diving for fish, swimming quite deep, and under overhanging rocks, to get its meal. One of the top experiences of the whole Galapagos excursion.
The afternoon activity was a walk on Fernandina Island with our trusty (and favourite) naturalist guide, Henry. His sense of humour and obvious love for his job and the animals has made him a joy to have as guide (his adorable accent sounds more than a tad like Hank Azaria’s ‘Agatha’ in The Bird Cage!). Throughout the trip, a group of 10 of us have gravitated towards each other and Henry – he calls us his ‘blue-footed boobies!’ The last few days have been our group waiting to see which panga Henry will be in so we can enjoy his company and lessons about the Galapagos!
This walk took us amongst yet hundreds more marine iguanas, as well as some oyster birds, sea turtles and the simply adorable sea lions. They really are like dogs, not lions – even the poop looks like gigantic dog turds! (which the iguanas eat, by the way). Afternoon was made complete for Nic when, as others walked away from shore, a sea lion came out of the water to have a chat with her. Gorgeous! Her ability to attract stray dogs seems to extend to sea lions as well!
Monday 13 December
Another wet landing at San Salvador Island (Santiago Island) this morning (at Puerto Egas). We saw some very interesting geological formations, but, honestly, we are both more drawn to the wildlife and plants, rather than the rocks. (They even have lantana here – bloody pest!) However, we did find the grottos quite interesting – a combination of a tidal wading pool and a blow hole! Pretty impressive!
After our morning walk, we snorkelled from the beach, but once again, clarity was an issue. We did manage to see some more sea turtles and sea lions, and some others saw a manta ray, but Nic chucked it in early and sat on the beach, while John persevered with a new ‘buddy,’ and caught some more interesting footage of swimming marine life. (Would’ve loaded some of these snippets of footage, but the files are too big and haven’t yet learned how to shrink them – am too busy having a holiday!)
The afternoon excursion was to Bartolome Island where, apart from the usual wildlife, we saw rusting torpedos from WWII – the Americans used the island as target practice and STILL haven’t cleaned up their crap! The geologist, Theo, has actually notified the US Embassy about them (some time ago), and they are still there. Quel surprise!
Tonight is our last night onboard Isabella II. The food has been quite sumptuous in its quantity and quality, but we have certainly strayed from our path, and the indulges in carbs and protein has left Nic with blocked sinuses and expanding girth! Oh well, when not tempted by endless buffets, she may go back to normality. It was lovely meeting interesting people and swapping email addresses at the end of the cruise. Many were not happy to be leaving, as they were going straight home, but we were excited to be embarking on our next leg of an amazing journey. Stay tuned for another update.