Thursday, April 11, 2019

Oh those Sea Lions

After yesterday’s busy day (and rough sea), today we stayed on land and explored the town and its beaches.

The main sea lion beach in town is just down the road from our hostel so first thing in the morning we spent some time watching the sea lions. I felt bad when I saw a really skinny pup wandering the beach and soulfully calling for mama.

We stopped for breakfast at a shoreside restaurant called Muyu Galápagos. This restaurant is a not for profit organization that funds both social and environmental programs. The food was delicious, beautifully presented and they played relaxing Sunday morning type music which was perfect for watching the herons, crabs and sea lions. Sometimes it’s those laid back moments that are so fabulous.

We next headed to the Galápagos Interpretation Centre. This was really well done. It not only talked of the animals but also the creation of the islands, the social history and the challenges facing the islands. This is a free museum. The volunteer working at the entrance was from Toronto with dual citizenship between Canada and Ecuador.

After the Interpretation Centre we took a beautiful trail through trees, bushes and cacti to Frigate Bird Hill. There were great views of the island and Kicker Rock in the distance. We watched the frigate birds ride the air currents.

Below us we saw a group of cruise ship passengers snorkelling at Tijeretas Bay with sea lions also swimming around. We decided to check it out and by the time we got there both the passengers and sea lions were gone. 

We decided to go snorkelling anyway in the hope that the sea lions would return. I wished that I had brought my water shoes because the entry point was rather rocky. The water was a little rough when we got in.

John and I snorkelled a bit. I found this gorgeous rock formation with bright orange coral and hundreds of little orange fish swimming around it. John took the adventure camera to take some underwater pictures of me. He told me to get in-front of the rock, which I did. Then a wave came and knocked my foot against the rock, cutting my heel.

Since there were no sea lions we decided to go back to shore. John got out first but when I tried to get out the waves swept me past the exit area. I would swim forward then was swept past again. Finally John got my hand and pulled me out.

As we were getting ready to leave several sea lions returned. John and I jumped back in the water and swam around with them for just under an hour. It was fabulous. They were swimming right up close dashing under and around us. I was even brushed against a few times. We got amazing video footage. It was like they were playing with us. Two of the sea lions were either playing or fighting, nipping at each other and rolling around and around together. I want to change our plans and go back to swim with them again.

We next checked out another Charles Darwin statue then went down to Lovers Beach (Playa Punta Carola) where we watched the surfers and the marine iguanas swimming. Very cool.

We walked to Playa Mann and decided to have a late lunch at a little restaurant at the beach. We ordered and then sat with another couple Tim and Tate who are staying at our hostel. They are travelling the world for a year.  The friendly manager of the restaurant seemed to suffer some memory issues- she forgot that we ordered food and drink, when we reminded her John’s soup arrived but not his mango juice which took three more reminders before appearing - but it was worth it- a beer stein full of thick and delicious mango juice. My meal was out-sourced to another restaurant somewhere because she had run out of empanadas. Over an hour later, she brought me mine. But It was a nice place to sit and watch all the beach life so I was fine.

We went back to our place, cleaned ourselves up and went out to watch the sunset.

We went to the sea lion beach to have our sunset beer with our stinky friends. We watched all of their melodramas. It’s amazing that any of them get any sleep.

Further down the boardwalk we watched a group of young people do a dance rehearsal outside on a square. Then we went for dinner at Luckys again. This restaurant serves great local food at really good prices. I wasn’t too hungry because I had lunch so late so I had a delicious cheese soup with potatoes ($2) and John had the daily special; cheese soup, rice, cooked veggies and fresh fish ($4).

We decided to check out the sea lion beach to see what they do at night. Other people were there, standing on the ledge doing the same thing.

The beach was more packed than in daytime. I guess they all come out of the water to sleep. But it didn’t seem like anyone was getting any sleep. They were all grunting, belching, bleating, arguing and crawling over each other.

Suddenly a sea lion comes racing along the ledge where people are standing. There was no stopping him, people were jumping off the ledge like dominos. He wasn’t even that big a sea lion.

These beasts have no sense of boundaries. Be it boats, steps, benches, docks or even doorsteps. They are going to go where they please.

It was a wonderful day.

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