Ecuador · galapagos · Uncategorized

Blue-footed Boobies!

Originally published 18 August 2015.

Welcome back! Friday dawned early for us. That’s a nice benefit of being two hours behind where your body thinks you are; you wake up early and get going with your day! We went down for breakfast, and can you believe they had banana cake for breakfast? And coffee, and toast, and granola, and eggs, and fruit! The coffee is really good here. I was expecting it to be too strong, but it seems to be just right!

Our guide for the day picked us up at 9:00 with 17 of our closest new friends. The day trip to North Seymour and Bachas Beach seems to be a popular one. You’ll never believe some of the things we saw! We made our way back across Santa Cruz Island to the same ferry dock where we arrived yesterday, about an hour drive due to the road construction. At the ferry we separated into two groups. Our group went first we got into the cutest little motorized dinghy you ever did see! It took us to a small yacht where we were advised to take off our shoes (which made trips to the bathroom below pretty icky–I just tried not to think about it!). Steve and I found an adorable little love seat on the front of the boat to enjoy the ride. And then we were there!

When we arrived at North Seymour Island, we made a “dry landing,” meaning we would not be wading in the water to get from the boat to the island, we went up lave steps! A sweet Australian couple befriended us, and the wife asked me, “So I guess you’re on your honeymoon?” Ha! We said no, we’re just on vacation, but so glad people can see we’re in love!

It was there on the lava steps that we saw our first wildlife–crabs! They were everywhere! We missed them at first because they were black like the rocks. Then when it looked like the rock was moving, we realized it was the baby crabs! They go from black to orange to red as they age!

Baby crabs. So cute!

Nw up the steps and off to see the birds! And the land iguanas! And the sea lions! We had to stay with our certified naturalist guide on a trail the whole time, but there was much to be seen, even on just the trail! We saw pelicans, frigates (with and without red pouches!), land iguanas, and my personal favorite, the blue-footed boobies!

The majestic blue-footed boobie!

The blue-footed boobies got that name because the Spanish thought they were really stupid, since they just sat on the ground most of the time–they were total boobs! I like their blue feet. They really are fascinating birds. They nest on the ground, not in trees, and they dive into the water and swim to get their fish. It’s fun to watch them dive from very high up, stay under for a while, then come back up to fly away with their catch! Oh, and the best thing about them is, the boys dance to court their lady! They also share the nesting and fishing duties. One of them was sitting on his nest when we all walked by, and as if on cue, he got up and moved behind his eggs so we could see them! He even moved them around with his blue webbed feet as if to say, aren’t my kids the best?!

Showing off the kids!
The frigates are interesting as well! Instead of dancing for their ladies, they expand their big red pouch. It looked like the same type of skin as the waddle on a turkey, but bulgier and smooth. It contracts when they are done finding a mate and comes out the next season. Except on North Seymour! This is the only place where you see frigates with pouches out year-round.
Red-breasted frigate

We also saw some cacti, which is funny because they are only supposed to grow in arid climates, not a humid place like an island in the middle of the Pacific! It’s like island life with a taste of the desert. The land iguanas (which are orangey-yellow-and-black) eat them as well as other plants around the island. They are not carnivores; none of them tried to chase or bite us!

Land iguana
Back to the yacht! We lunched on the way to our next stop, Bachas Beach on Baltra (where the airport is). Lunch was pretty standard Ecuadorian fare: wahoo fish, rice, veggies, and fruit!
Lunch time!

There was also a very hot relish, but it was too hot for me! Our Australian friends sat with us, and we talked about travel. They are on an eight-week adventure through South America! They’ve already been at it four weeks and have four more weeks to go. They are going to Machu Pichu! I wish I’d had my card to give them. I would have loved to stayed in touch!

Anyhow, we got to Bachas Beach and got ready for a wet landing! That means you’ll have to be in the water up to your knees and walk to shore. Our Australian friends and we got on the dinghy first. I don’t know why everyone else was dawdling. This was going to be the best part–seeing flamingoes in a lagoon! I turned to my new friend and said, “We’re the party people! We’re ready to go!” Finally some more people got into the dinghy and we motored as close to shore as we could. The water was chilly as we stepped in, but I kept thinking of the flamingoes!

We were instructed not to take shoes with us, since we would only be at the beach and the walk to the lagoon was short, but because I’m still recovering from my last foot surgery in January, I had to wear my water shoes. They help so much! Walking on sand is really hard on your tiny foot muscles, so I needed that extra little support and stability. I also took them with us to Hawaii in May, and they were so helpful! They also keep my scars from getting burned. I recommend water shoes! =)

Back to the story! So yes, my water shoes allowed me to walk around the beach without strain or injury! The walk to the lagoon was short, and our naturalist guide warned us that we may or may not see flamingoes. He would have to check. I was a bit heart broken. I wanted to see my favorite bird in the whole wide world! They’re pink! He went to look… And there was one! And when we got up there, there were two! Maybe not as good as a flock, but certainly better than none! The naturalist said they flew here from North America about 300 years ago. I’m not sure how they could know that for sure, but it’s awesome! I actually had never thought of a flamingo flying before. I always think of them standing in water, feeding on shrimp! They were so graceful, standing there all tall and curvy. And pink!

Flamingoes!

Sorry we had to keep our distance. More flamingo pictures will come in a few days!

After that we roamed around the beach for an hour or so. We saw sea cucumbers, a couple of kinds of fishes, and a waterproof camera! Our Australian friends found that. There were no pictures on it, so they gave it to one of our guides as his “tip!” They had a good time taking pictures with it!

And then it was time to head back. We walked through the water back out to the dinghy, rode back to the yacht, yachted back to the ferry dock, waited a while, loaded onto the bus, and the bus dropped us off a block from our hotel. All told, it was a 7-hour trip. Mostly transportation, but completely worthwhile!

But our day was not yet finished! It was time for a run! That is Steve’s and my favorite way to explore a new town: run it! I am currently building my running back up slowly, using the Couch to 5K program. Steve usually runs 5 miles, so our run that day was actually less than half what he usually does, but he stayed with me! We tried to run to Tortuga Bay, but unfortunately there was a LOT of road construction going on, and we never did find it. But we got our time in, and we saw some new things!

On our cool-down walk back to the hotel, our friend Louis showed up to discuss tomorrow’s adventure! I didn’t know he was going to be waiting for us when we got back, otherwise we would have waited for him before we went for our run! Anyway, he gave us our info for the next days adventures. He said we’re going to love it! You’ll have to read the next blog to find out what adventures we got into!

After we returned to the hotel and got some water in us, it was time to set out for some supper. We rambled around until we found something we thought we’d like–Steve’s favorite, pizza! We ordered two calzones for take-out. The restaurant was cute, but we were ready to be in the room for the night instead of being out for dinner. We got the food and realized these were not personal-sized calzones… They were entire pizzas folded over! Needless to say, we were not able to finish! Luckily, there is a fridge we could use at the hotel for leftovers. We would be enjoying the leftovers soon!

And that was our night! We ate our humongous calzones on the balcony, showered the day away, and fell fast asleep. Join is next time for… Floreana Island!

 

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