Saturday, April 6, 2019

Penguins at Last

I was up with the dawn; excited by the prospect of flamingos and penguins. I did some laundry, hung it on the close line on the balcony and attempted to upload the blog again. It takes a good 8-10 minutes extra per picture. Facebook is a faster but you still have to wait. I noticed a lot of people were making and eating their breakfasts in the hostel kitchen.

By 7:00am, we left our hostel and made our way towards the beach. We checked out a few restaurants and their breakfasts were priced close to the seafood dinner prices. We grabbed some treats and drinks from a bakery and headed to the beach.

The beach was almost completely deserted. A European man with a very strong accent told me there were penguins further up the beach....very exciting.

When we got to the spot I noticed many marine iguanas moving from the rocks where they spent the night to the beach but no penguins. I guess I misunderstood the man but it was still very cool. I also got some good videos of them swimming. 

We then went on the boardwalk trail (located by the Iguana Crossing Hotel) which goes through a number of lagoons...and I saw the flamingos. There were even a couple baby flamingos.

We had booked a 10am kayaking tour of Los Tintoretas through Pahoehoe Tour agency which numerous sources online highly recommended. We were not disappointed with their tour. 

When we arrived at the beach to get our kayaks all the benches were already the sea lions. Some benches had three or four of them piled on top of each other, others only had one, really large one. They were quite vocal, grunting and belching out their deepest thoughts and dreams.

We were given our kayaks and we followed the guide to Las Tintoretas which is a group of volcanic outcropping just off-shore. I was wearing a shorty wetsuit provided as part of the tour.
From time to time sea turtles rose up and swam beside us. And then we saw them...what I’ve been waiting for...Penguins. 

John’s comment to my observation was, “thank God”.

The first penguins we saw were babies about a week old. Unfortunately when I looked at the pictures from my adventure camera, what is most noticeable are the water droplets on the lense....aaaaaah!

We went further out and snorkelled from our kayak. It was very deep but the    salty water kept us buoyant.

We had turtles swimming around us. Those underwater shots did turn out. At one point we had hundreds of large fish swimming around us including many parrot fish. 

When it came time to get back in the kayak, I had a few issues and both John and the guide had to hoist me up at which point I was lying across the kayak on my stomach...not very graceful.

As we were kayaking back, a penguin swam around us for a bit.

We went for lunch at a restaurant frequented by locals. It was quite good.

For the afternoon we rented bikes and rode to the Wall of Tears. It took us almost two hours to get there because we stopped often to take pictures and much of it was uphill.

But what a beautiful journey. Most of it was through national parkland. I almost ran over a marine iguana who was just sitting in the middle of the road.

The first third of the trip was along coastline; beautiful beaches almost completely deserted.

Then there was another section where tortoises were all over the road because they were eating poisonous apples, poisonous to almost everyone except tortoises.

The Wall of Tears is all that remains of a former penal colony. It was a very tall and made of volcanic stone.  It was made by the prisoners in the mid 1900s. Many prisoners died in the making - hence the name. The wall had no purpose other than as a task for the prisoners to complete.

Fortunately the ride back was mostly downhill and only took us an hour.

After returning the bikes to the rental place, we grabbed some beers and watched the sunset.

Supper was seafood...again. It is just so good and fresh.

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