12/23/15 – Albatross

I’m awake again at 5:30am.

A sign of a good trip is discussion of future trips. We’re eager for more adventure. Possible future boat trips: an Alaskan cruise, a Nile cruise to Luxor, a sailboat on the Balkans, a Greek island cruise. Where will I go in 2016?

This is day 6 of 8. I will be sad to end our boat ride. The Galapagos has four classes of yacht ranging from cheapest to most expensive: tourist, tourist-superior, first-class, and luxury. I quite like our boat’s tourist-superior class – not too expensive to attract only wealthy, older Americans, but not too cheap to attract those that need to cut corners. The cheapest boats do not travel as far.

With 16 passengers and 8 crew on board, I am rarely alone, yet there are ample places to sit, sleep, or drink tea. No man is an island. Taking the lead of our Dane Jan, we’re all addicted to tea.

We motor out late morning at 8:30am to Puerto Suarez on the west side of Isla Espanola (Hood). Here, the marine iguanas are red and blue, unlike the black ones we saw previously.

We spot only two adult albatrosses and one baby. The Galapagos albatross is the largest bird on the islands. Sadly, fishermen shoot any albatross that gets entangled in their long drag fishing nets.

A blow-hole by sea cliffs regularly spouts jets of water. A large colony of Nasca boobies have laid twin eggs on the cliffs. Only one baby of the two eggs will survive. I stand closer to my brother.

Hawks practice polyandry: one female hawk mates with multiple males all of whom bring food back to the young in the nest. I stand closer to my brother’s girlfriend. So hungry for lunch!

From the cliffs of Puerto Suarez, we return to the boat to eat while the boat hauls ass from the west to the east side of Isla Espanola. We have a glorious afternoon ahead of us of beach, our last stay on a beach. The twin pangas storm the sands of Gilbert Bay for a wet landing. I drag ashore a towel, snorkel, fins, wetsuit, and water.

As scheduled, our group of 17 has the beach to ourselves for a couple of hours before the next special group comes ashore. We stroll the squeaky sand. At one end of the beach, I poke at a whale skeleton and contemplate mortality. Although Adriene adores beaches, I lament the sandy environ’s irreality; no work gets done here, and I am a creature who works. On the other end of the beach, we pass yowling sea lions.

Ray, Adriene, and I sphloosh out into the surf to snorkel around a far rock with Mercedes. The current pushes and visibility is poor. Always searching for the new, I find no new fish. I abandon my swimming fins as my feet are so cut up.

Back on the beach, inquisitive mockingbirds have shat on my bag. Fortunately, no sea lions have left similar parting gifts. I’m not a beach sitter, so I meditatively pace the shore once more from yowling sea lions to whale skeleton.

The sun sinks lower. I calculate that today is at most four seconds shorter than yesterday. After dinner, we plan for drinking and playing cards. Julio upends our party with a 6am start tomorrow following an all-night portage, the rockiest so far. I’m so grateful for drugs. Bottles, cups, phones, people slide all night long. I do sleep some.