Last day in the Galapagos....
I decided not to join the others who took a $100+US diving/snorkel trip setting off at 6am.. Paul & Justin returned having seen little that they had not already seen on other snorkelling forays we have made so were a little disappointed with their day, however, Emily was diving so got to swim with a load of hammerhead and white tip sharks which was well worth the $130 it cost her.
I had planned to spend my day going on a snorkelling trip around the bay for just $35US .. but decided that I would pay a visit in the morning to the nearest beach, a short walk from the town. Once I was at the beach I decided I would stay there as it was actually a great place to explore. It is a long white talcum powder sand beach, I'm guessing about a mile long (I'm sure you could find it on Google Earth if you wanted to check it out).
Anyway, the beach is part of the National Park so you have to register your visit at the little gate house where to path starts. I arrived a 11am and after climbing up the steep path to the gate house I was soaked through... There was no wind and the humidity was at saturation point. Thankfully I spotted a small freezer cabinet in the corner of the office and found it stocked with the local Ecuadorian ice cream ;-) That ice cream didn't last long but I resisted the temptation to turn back for a second one promising that I would allow myself one on the way out. The path to the beach is paved with red interlocking blocks bordered either side for its entire length by 25 cm walls. It is laid across the jumble of rocks that is the remains of the last lava flow. It's not a bare jumble but thickly vegetated with a variety of prickly pear plants the grow like trees on tall trunks and a whole variety of other native plants including a jasmine like white flowering bush.
In the heat the undulating path seems as if it will go on for ever but eventually you begin to hear surf crashing and get a glimpse of the sea. The vegetation ends abruptly and the beach opens up to left and right. Bright white, solid under foot, the finest grained beach I have ever visited. The fine sand mixed up by the waves gives the whole surf zone a milky look fading into azure blue as the depth increases. There are delightful carved notices warning of the danger of currents, and that this is a beach where turtles nest and marine iguanas live.
I walked the mile to the far end of the beach and found a lot of the iguanas lazing around under a mangrove tree and more sunning them selves on the black boulders that for me waters edge at this point. There is a small lagoon in which people were snorkelling so I joined them. Fairly regularly an iguana makes its way from the land out to sea, or via a versa, through the pool and every body moves away to make a clear path for it to swim past.
Having seen a few iguanas make their way past, seemingly unfazed by the proximity of the human onlookers, I continued on to a mangrove lined lagoon. Here here were more people sunbathing with music playing from portable speakers and a kayak rental kiosk. I went for a swim in the pale green pea soup water and was surprised to have small rays and sharks for company, only that they were not visible until I was right next to them... I like to have a clear view of what is in the water with me so I got out and headed back to the beach. Here I found one person in the surf, body surfing, so went to join them.
I must have spent the next two hours chasing waves. There were Pelicans catching fish in the surf as well as Nazcar Boobies diving like arrows at great speed from about 10-15 m. Both were doing this within just a few feet of me and I felt slightly vulnerable! Whilst having fun in the surf a fine drizzle descended. Luckily, I had my trusty (now handleless) umbrella with me and had put my bag under it before getting in the water. I was knackered from the aquatic exercise and donned my kilt towel and wandered the mile back towards the path.
It suddenly dawned on me that there was no rubbish on the beach, I had to search really hard to find one plastic fork, just one. On the Las Perlas islands every beach is rammed with all sorts of plastic debris and that seems to be the norm in many places. I rescued a jet black bumble bee from the surf line and tried to get photos of a little Sanderling which was rushing up and down the beach with the water searching for hidden nuggets of food in the sand.
A few surfers had appeared at the path end of the beach so I sat and watched them for a while before heading back along the winless path back to town.. I signed out at 15:55 and had a second I cream :-).
So in the end I had a great day of exercise and fun which cost me 5$US for the ice creams!
I'm writing this on our 1st evening out of Puerto Ayora as we head south west past the island of Isabella and then into the wide open Pacific. We spent this morning attending the immigration office to get our exit stamps and then because the weather forecast shows exceedingly little wind for the next couple of weeks we decided to buy 10 yellow plastic jerry cans and 60 gallons of extra diesel to extend our motoring range in an attempt to get me to the church on time! Well, Matthew and Elisa's wedding anyway! There is a slight possibility that I might not make to Hiva Oa in time... There is no way we can motor all the way but the extra diesel means that we can add about 800 miles to our existing range. We are hoping our tactic of heading south to 10deg S fairly directly will get us into enough wind to sail most of the way. Don't forget you can follow our track at http://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/TinTin . Feel free to share the blog and tracking address with any
one who might be interested.
Ps. We are now 10 degrees South and 115 degrees West and sailing in good SE trade winds for our destination, but please keep whistling as the long term forecast shows the wind dropping away in the last 200 miles to Hiva Oa. At the moment we are predicting landfall on the 11-12th April which would allow me to do some exploring before getting on a plane and making it back home with 3 days to spare before the wedding to get organised and kick the jet lag!