Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Galápagos: Day 4
Waking up semi-ready to go, we headed off for the 15 minute boat ride to La Loberia, a small island with sea lions. The weather wasn't so good, just cloudy and cooler than the last two days, so the sea lions weren't sunning themselves as much as they'd been beforehand. After a few minutes looking at them, we moved on to Punta Estrada to snorkel. The snorkeling was good, but not as intense as it had been the two previous days. We were still able to swim with schools of fish, but once you've been feet away from sharks and sea lions, you want more.
After snorkeling we ate lunch just as the rain, which had been clearly visible across the channel, was now falling onto the boat. We were stuck with a group of children on a school trip and most of the adults went for cover under the awning as the kids ate in the rain. We all agreed that the kids were terrible and needed to be thrown overboard, yet no one did anything.
After the lunch we went to Las Grietas, a valley with a pool of clear water consisting of about 50% sea water and 50% rain water. It was a 20 minute walk from the dock and the rain fell lightly and gently. As we got closer we saw people coming back covered in mud, and knew it was going to get dirty before it got clean. The path was made up of what was clearly once a lava flow, and now it was simply a black rock walk. It got muddier and more difficult to walk closer to the water, and we had to shimmy down muddy steps and rocks to get into the cold water.
Once in, we could see that the valley made by the rocks went deep into the water, and we could see all the way down to the sand. There were some fish, but it was more interesting just to be swimming in their surrounding by the walls. There were even some tunnels that Andrew was able to swim through. As we swam the rain fell harder and by the time we got out it was coming down consistently. We treked back up the trail, our clothes wet from the rain and the water.
I stupidly commented that at least it wasn't raining too hard. No later than 30 seconds later the rain picked up and came in hard. We were now fully soaked and stopped in at a bar next to salt flats to avoid it for a few minutes. Our shoes were covered in mud so we used a fountain to clean off, which just soaked the shoes even more. We finally made it back to the boat and by the time we got back to Puerto Ayoro the rain had eased up.
Our plan was to go with Javier to some lava tubes for $20, but as we thought about it, we realized we didn't want to spend that much money. Instead we hitched a ride with another tour and paid the entrance fee of $2.50 ($3 for foreigners). We also tagged along with the tour, so it worked out pretty well in the end. The lava tubes are huge tunnels that were carved out by the magma millions of years ago. They are the second longest tunnels in South America. It was a short walk and soon we were back on the bus and back at the hotel. The weather cleared up and the sun came out later.
We had our last dinner of lobster tail at the hotel and then went out for some drinks and dancing with some girls we met from Machala.
Above: Blue footed boobies, cacti and rain in the distance, a flower grows on a cactus, the lava tubes