I'm Going Down, Down, Down

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A few of our new passengers had been worried about the trip that they had booked. Was that first day in the highlands of Santa Cruz an example of what the rest of the days held? We couldn’t guarantee anything, the Israelis and us, but we told them that every other day on the trip had been great. The plan for Friday, their second day aboard, was to arrive in Floreana, one of the older islands in the south of the archipelago, and after a short trip to the old Post Office Box and a pirate tunnel we’d be snorkelling. Then it would be lunch time, and we’d go around the island to one of the best snorkelling sites in all of the Galapagos at Devil’s Crown. There’d be a short break to check out a flamingo lagoon and then go snorkel some more off the beach. With all that snorkelling, three times in all (hence the Springsteen reference) what could go wrong? The Post Office box was pretty cool – there were stack upon stack of postcards, most of which were from the US which is surprising considering that we’ve met no Americans here on the Galapagos. Someone in the group remarked grumpily that the Americans never wrote their country on the postcards which I had to laugh at: surely EVERYbody in the world must know the TN means Tennessee, USA? Or CA is California and not Canada? As I looked through the postcards I saw this was mostly true. I digress, however; the post office box was a place where passing ships would leave mail going in a different direction and pick up mail in the direction they were headed. Today, people leave postcards and letters for home and if another traveller comes across one for their home they hand deliver it. I found one, and in fact was the only person in our group to do so, from Saskatoon. It said simply “Hotter than Hades - Dick” and isn’t properly addressed but I’ll try to find its recipient when I get home. Hopefully someone will do the same with mine.

From there we walked, as promised, to the pirate cave which actually connects on the other side to the sea. The first resident of the island, an Irish guy, used to use it to store rum that he got by trading pirates for vegetables he grew. Pretty good bargain all around, I’d say. No scurvy for no boredom. At last it was time for snorkelling and unfortunately the visibility was very poor. On the plus side, one of the Swiss had an underwater enclosure for the Canon G10 that didn’t fit his G11 but passably fit my G7 so he let me use it in exchange for whatever photos I might take underwater. The visibility wasn’t that great but I did manage to get some cool photos of a sealion that was playing with us. I also saw a baby scorpion fish swimming right in front of me which was something I’ve never seen before. We went snorkelling again on Devil’s Crown, which is a caldera of rock offshore and the snorkelling was much better there. In fact, there were three snorkels that day which was pretty cool – snorkelling was quickly becoming my favourite part of the Galapagos because there were a larger list of things I hadn’t yet seen. On land, I could pretty much cross off all the birds that are endemic here and all I really had to see yet was some tortoises in the wild. In the water however, were turtles, sharks, manta rays, and so on. And having a camera made it new again, in a way, because now I wanted to get photos of all the things I had seen as well.

We maximized the day by going back to the island on Cormorant Point and staying right until 6:00, which is the latest you’re allowed to be on the island. We walked past a flamingo lagoon and to another beach where turtles come in to nest but the surf was too much to see them so we wound up looking at crabs instead. I figured that since I had my crab photos I’d try to be arty and use a slow shutter to make the water wispy but with limited success at best. Then we walked back to the other side and had one last snorkel in very poor visibility where I saw basically nothing. That said, I did have an interesting encounter with one little fish (maybe 5 cm long) that took a liking to me and swam all the way up the rocks and then back to the beach. I felt bad leaving him alone in the water, little Nemo, after having him swim most of the way right in front of my mask, but there was nothing to be done about it. Hopefully he’ll be alright. We sailed that night to Espanola Island, which is the oldest island that we can visit and probably the nicest beach we’ve seen here in the Galapagos, which is saying something. That is, of course, if you don’t mind sharing it with the many sea lions and marine iguanas. Just off Espanola was some of the best snorkelling I have done, too. I found a tiger snake, a Mustard Ray, and best of all, a Green Sea Turtle. I’d had to go a little out of the way to find the turtle but it was worth it and I got some exciting photos with the incredible visibility. On the afternoon landing we took a walk around the island and enjoyed beautiful views from the cliff tops not to mention crossing the last major bird off our list: the albatross. These two days definitely kicked up the second half of the trip a serious notch and we were again excited for the remaining few days. Be sure to view photos from this island, too, as they are some of my favourites from the Galapagos.

Floreana Photos
Española Photos
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