San Cristobal

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Fish face confrontation!

We’re prepping to depart San Cristobal for Isla Isabela this afternoon. The waterfront in the port town of Baquerizo Moreno was, as I’d heard, pretty much dominated by sea lions, aurally, visually, and aromatically. It seems they’ve had some success at establishing border protection for the malecon, though (Trump take note), as the benches were only occasionally occupied by the photogenic beasts. I’m sure they were ISIS.

 

Our first land-side foray was to the Galapagos National Park Interpretive Center and, from there, a walk to and snorkel at a nearby beach where we had our initial face-to-face with a marine iguana, I was challenged by a sea lion for territory, and we managed to kill quite a few of the horse flies that attacked us. The snorkeling was only so-so due to the consequential murkiness from waves, but we did see sea turtles and the surfers were having a good time.

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Fresh water-filled crater, El Junco

The next day we hired a taxi for a half day tour to watch the tortoises lumber about with astereotypical swiftness at Galapaguera Center and to climb El Junco to circumambulate the small, water-filled caldera and take in the expansive views of San Cristobal’s eastern shore.

 

The highlight of our time was probably the Three-Sixty (degree) Tour of the island. We booked two days in advance for a speed boat circumnavigation of the island with stops for snorkeling, hiking, and lunching on the beach. Our first snorkel spot was scenic above the water, but murky below, although Roger’s dip was memorable for having been stalked by a giant sea turtle. Horse flies were again in abundance, but it was a nice spot. From there we went on to the northeastern end of the island, Punta Pitt, where we were to fish and spot boobies. The boobies complied and the fish, too, enormously so, …like 800 pounds worth. Our captain hooked a marlin and spent over two hours fighting it before it finally broke the 120 pound test line.

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Here little fishy!

The excitement drained away in an hour or so after the fish stopped its aerobatics and settled in to tugging our boat in a pretzelized course around the ocean. There’s no doubt it was an epic struggle, with the boat crew’s backs straining against a bending pole and a taut line, and there’s no way we could have landed it, but our eventual boredom would have been mollified if we’d at least gotten the huge beast alongside for some get acquainted time. Having lost it we felt we’d given up a goodly bit of our promised island tour. Ah, such is the luck of fishermen.

 

 

Our last stop was at Kicker Rock or, in Spanish, Leon Dormido. This is a pair of small islets, one doing an impression of a lion stretched out asleep on the ocean and the other an iconic spike of rock jutting out of the water like a shark’s dorsal fin. The attraction here, aside from nesting boobies and frigate birds with their respective blue and red feet and scarlet gullets, was a snorkel through the gap between the larger island and the spire to see hammerhead and reef sharks in the depths below. The birds were indeed colorful and the towering cliffs of the islets impressive, but the water was murky again and we only got dim images of reef sharks beneath us. The best views we had under water were of the sheer submarine escarpments covered in orange, red, brown and yellow sea life as they disappeared into the darkness below.

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Finally, Lisa and I spent yesterday morning with a visit to Los Loberia which was purported to host a teeming sea lion community. When we arrived the tourists vastly outnumbered the lobos marinos, but it was picturesque and we both entertained ourselves playing with our cameras.

Aside from that, the nooks and crannies of our tourist time we filled in with casual meals, a few of the local cocktails, internet activities, and whatnot. Now it’s time to move on.

 

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