Boobies and Sharks

Breakfast today was at the tables in front of the hotel with our feet in the sand and a nice morning view of the ocean. Shortly afterward, we were whisked away in a taxi for a short drive to the dock.

We met the crew and boarded for a half-hour ride to our first stop: a rock formation which is frequented by blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and even the occasional Galapagos penguin.

The captain trolled around the small rock formation a few times while we took photos and enjoyed the scenery, and then we were off to our next destination: a cluster of partially collapsed lava tunnels which have become a popular nesting spot for blue-footed boobies.

By the time we made it here, I was regretting my coffee refill just before leaving the hotel, so it was challenge to stand still while marveling at the birds who happily welcomed us into their territory.  Regardless, this was one of the highlights of the trip.  We were able to get up close and personal with the birds and the landscape was out of this world!

We learned that the telltale blue feet is a trait that is actually a result of their diet and overall well-being. If a male is healthy and can get plenty of food (sardines), his feet will be very blue compared to a less-healthy and/or less-skilled hunter. So the females are attracted by the males with the most bright-blue colored feet.

It turned out I wasn’t alone in my longing for a restroom, and fortunately our small boat was equipped with a pint-sized on-board toilet; crisis averted!  The third and final stop of the outing was in another cove, where numerous partially collapsed lava tunnels convened.  This made for a really unique area to go snorkeling, and the marine life viewing turned out to be the best of the entire trip. Once again, the water was chilly, but not as bad as our first trip, because the water was shallow in most places.  It was usually possible to stand up, but our guides urged us not to do so because then the silt would get stirred up and make the visibility much worse.

Not long into this snorkeling excursion, people in our group started catching glimpses of whitetip reef sharks zooming around in the distance.  We missed them in the beginning, but eventually we found one sitting still.  Our guide spotted it swimming into a small cave about 10′ down and led anyone who was interested down to take a peak.  It was a little eerie to dive down and all of the sudden have a shark appear, looking back at you from its place of refuge.  We let it have its space, though, and moved on in the open area and then through some of the collapsed lava tunnels into smaller pools.

We saw a few more sharks while swimming around.  My favorite encounter was when one was coming directly towards me while swimming through a narrow lava tunnel!  We also saw a handful of sea turtles, colorful fish, and even a seahorse.

The terrain and the variety of marine life here made it our best snorkeling experience by far!  All this happened in about 40 minutes, at which point we were all starting to get cold, so we got back into the boat for our trip back to the dock.

Near the dock, we saw a fever of stingrays!

After the excitement of the day’s activities, we returned to the hotel for relaxing and homework (Rachel).  We both set up at one of the tables on the beach and enjoyed the afternoon.

I listened to a book on tape while Rachel worked, and then we shared some coffee and went for a walk along the beach to refresh for a while.

Later on, Rachel finished her homework and we celebrated by sharing a large Pilsener before venturing into town for dinner.

For dinner, we chose one of the restaurants right on the beach.  The service was very slow, but we were both happy with our food.

The best part of this dinner, though, was the “Coco loco” we split.  It was a (large) coconut with two straws and some sort of liquor mixed with the coconut milk.  Neither of us were crazy about the flavor to start, but it tasted better each time we took a sip then pushed it back across the table for the other person’s turn.  It made for some good conversation and the setting couldn’t have been better.

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