Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Floriana and Some New swim Companions

After saying “Never again!”, when I was in Mauritius, it’s happened again!

Yesterday I brought my wet suit on our day tour,  fully planning to be totally protected from the sun while snorkelling. Then the water was so warm, I only wore my bathing suit and snorkelling shirt. Now I have burnt buttocks and the back of my legs.

Words of advice: Really load on the sun screen in exposed areas thirty minutes before entering the water.

This morning we took a day tour to the island of Floreana. This is where I have had a regret about not being on a cruise. On Floreana, long ago, the sailors had a post office in a barrel. When in port, they would look through the barrel and take any letters that they could deliver to places they were stopping along their route and they would leave their letters in hopes that other sailors would do the same. Now people still do this tradition with post cards. Unfortunately, none of the day trips have this spot on their itinerary.

The ten of us on this tour gathered at my favourite dock to catch a taxi boat to our transport boat. Numerous sea lions lay fast asleep on benches and the ground like hungover students the morning after an especially wild frat party.

Today’s boat, the Andrea, was nothing as fancy as yesterday’s. As a matter of fact, it was rather utilitarian. As we sped out to sea, our ride became choppier and choppier. There was also a fuel smell wafting around us. John and I quickly popped some Gravol and went to sleep. 

An hour and forty five minutes later we arrived in Floreana. This island is older than Bartolome Island that we saw yesterday and so is much greener with vegetation and the volcanos are more worn down with erosion so are less dramatic. Only 117 people live on the island.

There were empty boats moored in the harbour. One had a sea lion sleeping on its bow. The owner had put netting around the driver and  passenger area to keep the creatures out but I noticed another sea lion’s head pop up from under the net as he rolled into a more comfortable position.

Sea lions and marine Iguanas were all over the pier. I had to chuckle when I saw a sea lion and marine Iguana actually cuddling in their sleep.

We had our bags checked for contraband (not drugs but nuts, seeds, plants etc so as to avoid introducing foreign species onto the island) on the pier before our guide quickly rushed us through a bathroom break and onto a bus. A few minutes later we were scrambling to keep up to him as we went to our first beach. 

The beach was in a little cove and he told us we had 40 minutes to snorkel. I was rather put out because we were told when we purchased that we would have an hour to snorkel.

The water was warm so once again I didn’t wear my wet suit but I did wear beach shorts and my snorkel top.

The fish were ok but then suddenly sea turtles were all around me. One even came up from below me. They were huge. So exciting. I hope my action camera got it.

Next thing I know, there were three sea lions swimming around me. Woo hoo.

Our guide had us out of the water and I barely had time to get my shoes on and we were chasing after him down the beach path. We stopped at a black sand beach. The guide said we could snorkel for 10 to 20 minutes. Only three of us did. I wasn’t disappointed because almost immediately, I was in among the sea turtles. They didn’t seem to mind me being there.

We made our way after our fast moving guide to a small family run restaurant. Lunch actually was not rushed. It was really good and they had water jugs which we could fill our bottles, I had chicken and perfectly done green beans and mashed yucca (delicious).

The bus took us to the highlands where we checked out the tortoises. One of them was 140 years old...he didn’t look a day over 100. One girl in our tour accidentally set her water bottle down in a pile of fresh tortoise poo which made for some memorable comments.

There were some beautiful views from the highlands. We also checked out a pirate cave.

I was disappointed when we were back at the boat by 1:45pm. The guide told me it was 2pm and I showed him the actual time on my phone. He then said that the driver had to come back early for an appointment. 

We need to be careful which tour company to choose. Yesterday’s was awesome, today’s not so good. Today’s tour was put on by Los Viajes de Darwin. We will be staying away from them for the rest of the trip. The travel company that sold us this tour said that they are planning not to work with this company because they have received too many complaints

I also discovered today that you can stay overnight in Floreana. There are a limited number of beach huts and an infrequent ferry. It would be challenging to work out but would be so worth it for a night. Talk about getting away from it all.

Upon our return, we hung out at the dock for a bit...we managed to beat the sea lions to the bench at the end of the pier. Once again a pelican landed on the roof above our heads. The shadow and the thunk thunk of his feet gave us a giggle. I will try to download the video on Facebook.

Our final supper in Santa Cruz was at another one of the restaurant kiosks. We both had shrimp and they specially made us cooked veggies. Yum.

We ended the night watching the sea animals by the dock. Besides the usual cast of characters, there was a heron. An hour of watching this always ensures sweet dreams

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