We are struggling mightily against, if not major disappointment, at least melancholy here on Isla Santa Cruz. We’ve been combing the beaches here looking for something to compare to the humpback whale that washed up this week back home in New Hampshire, but so far not much luck.
I mean, marine iguanas are pretty cool. Can’t really see them anyplace else in the world. Blunt noses for eating aglae. Can stay under water for a long time. But you’d have to pile up a few thousand of them to get anywhere near the size of the whale on Rye Beach.
Going to the beach is not a bad option in the Galapagos. I don’t care what the tourists from Florida say, the water is a very comfortable temperature. Beach parking is not an issue (though we did have to take a water taxi as part of today’s jaunt to Finch Bay). You can walk right in and snorkel and it’s like you’re in the aquarium at the doctor’s office, there’s so many pretty fish.
It doesn’t smell like dead whale.
Well, we can’t do much about it, anyway. We’ve got another island to visit, and then the glorious heights of Quito to experience before we see Rye Beach again. The whale probably won’t be there when we get back, anyway.
At least we can distract ourselves by focusing on the tasks at hand, which were: yesterday, recovering from Monday’s dive trip; and today, securing passage for the next leg of our trip, six days on Isabela Island. Of my original anxieties about this, only a few remain. Jen managed to find what appears to be a good spot for us to stay in Puerto Villamil. We found a launch that had space remaining for tomorrow afternoon. Many of our clothes that were wet the day before yesterday have dried by now (it’s a humid here and I’ve had to set up the portable clothes line in our little yard so our drying clothes can catch some sun). Hopefully today’s wet bathing suits we get relatively dry before we have to leave tomorrow.
One lingering concern: money. There is no ATM on Isabel Island. That means all the money we’re going to spend there we have to bring there. Luckily, Jen was able to pay for the room online, and I was able to get round-trip tickets on the boat. Still, we have tour money and food money to account for. Even here on Santa Cruz we’re limited in the amount of funds we can withdraw and the amount of transactions we can make each day. I think we’ve managed to store up enough, but it’s meant multiple trips to the money machine. At least we know we won’t be sleeping on the street or stranded without a return ticket.
With those things taken care of, we were able to relax a little the past few days. We’ve gotten relatively late starts, in the 10 to 11 a.m. range for leaving the house and we’ve been low-key in our adventuring. Playa Estacion, yesterday’s main destination, is a rocky beach only a few minutes from our house. It was a great place to swim and play in the sand. It also gave us our first opportunity to see marine iguanas swimming around. I think the snorkeling would have been great, except we didn’t make it into town to rent gear. Dinner last night was street food, empenadas and an embolado, which proved very inexpensive, but pretty popular among the troops.
For today’s trip to FInch Bay, we went prepared with masks and snorkels, but the water was pretty cloudy unless you went very close to the rocks. Zoe tried to follow a sea lion around for a while but mostly we sat in the sand and read our family book, The Prisioner’s Dilemma (We’re very close to the end!). Then we continued along a path through the cactus forest to Las Greitas, the swimming hole we visited as part of our bay tour last week. This time we found it almost completely empty and extremely satisfying. We were able to explore the area further, jump off some rocks and even swim through a meter-long tunnel connecting one pool to another.
At both beaches and at Las Grietas there was a very pleasant mix of foreign tourists (mostly from the US) and Ecuadorans. This is a very popular destination for Ecuador’s residents, possibly because they don’t have to pay the $100 entrance fee that everyone else who comes to the islands has to pay. Also, it’s a short flight from Guyaquil and Quito. Today, while the ladies were exploring at Las Grietas, I talked with several families, some from Ecuador and some from the US, as they were getting ready to take the plunge. (I was keeping an eye on our bags, some of which were stuffed with money for our stint on Isabella.) They all thought the water was too cold. Clearly they haven’t been swimming at any beaches in New England.
Tonight, we rest a bit more and tomorrow we have time to pack (we declined to take the 7 a.m. launch, selecting instead the one that leaves at 2 p.m.) and maybe read another chapter or two of our book. Perhaps during our boat ride tomorrow we’ll get to see a humpback whale, too.
We’ll let you know.