AdventureEcuadorSightseeing

5/17 “Whaaaaaa?”

Another 6AM wake up for an 8AM kayak. A minor stomach bug made the rounds of our happy little group – first Dennis, then Fany, then Rehana, then Lina, and finally my roomie Liz.  She sat out the kayak trip but rallied later.

Wondering why she’d brought back a beer from the night before. “Um.  Maybe I won’t go kayaking.”

Kayaking

We love Pablo.  He likes to talk, and he has wonderful, fully educated stories and facts to share – often with a full range of sound effects. He’s also no stranger to novice travelers so his directions have details for all levels of experience, which is why his snorkel briefing days before was 50 minutes in length. So in honor of our Irish wedding tradition, the night before we bet how long Pablo’s kayak briefing would last.  We each bet $1 on different times, ranging from 19 minutes to 50 minutes. And none of us could lengthen the time by asking questions. So we were all surprised when Pablo finished his briefing in a speedy 10 minutes 15 seconds, making Sara the winner of an entire $7.

Kayaks, just waiting for fun

Since Liz stayed in, I kayaked with Sara and we made an excellent team. She’s also interesting to speak with for a number of reasons. She is from Switzerland but spent many years in Hong Kong leading the BA salesteam. She’s currently onto what she calls her “second career” as a wine maker, traveler, and cyclist. Over the last few days I’ve used the time to pepper her with questions about all sorts of interesting things.

Kayak Co-Pilot Sara
Blue Footed Boobies

During the kayak trip we saw pelicans, a few penguins, two blue footed boobies, and a bevy of playful sea lions who joined us for our one hour trip around the volcanic rocks and mangroves.

Kayaking through a crevice
Almost perfectly posed penguin
Pelican

Giant Tortoise Breeding Center

We returned to the hotel to pick up Liz and Gail and then went to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, a refuge to help repopulate the Galapagos tortoise population. Pablo volunteered here years ago and helped relocate tortoise nests into the incubators at the Center. We learned all about tortoises and the efforts to save them, and then walked around in the different nurseries to see different ages and species.

Juvenile Tortoises
Tortoise
Apparently, three is a crowd
Liz Learns the Facts of Tortoise Life

Interesting facts:

  1. The sex of a baby tortoise is determined by the temperature of the incubation. (Liz: “Whaaaaaaaaaa?”)  Warmer = female. A few degrees cooler = male. The Center is breeding more females so of course there will be more opportunities for more eggs.
  2. Female tortoises can store male sperm for up to a year, making their own decision on when (and if) to use it. This would come in handy in a number of ways for many women I know.
  3. The Center relocates the tortoises at 4-5 years of age. Approximately 50% of them are tagged with trackers, though of course the tortoises don’t venture beyond the island.

 

Markings on a tortoise egg (which way is up, where it was found, what number it was, etc)
The stages of a baby tortoise growth
Itty Bitty Newborn Tortoise
Tortoise Hygiene

Nature Walk

From the Center we walked down a lovely path and across inlets with brackish water. We saw native passion fruit, flamingos, mangrove trees, iguanas on tree limbs, and juvenile herons.

Mangrove Trail
Beach Trail
Flamingo
Iguana in tree
Iguana Close Up
Iguana Close Up
Heart-shaped Sand Bar

Bar de Beto

After lunch we had an afternoon of free time. We could have hired bikes, but many of us opted for relaxation time. Like this:

Hammock-Cam: my view for 2 hours
The actual bar at Bar de Beto
Safety first.

Liz was fast asleep in the room, so I stayed on the hammock at Beto’s Bar for a few hours until 4:00, when the sun lowered beneath the edge of the building and encroached on my shady hammock.  I walked Up the beach and plopped my things with Trish and Rehana and went for a swim.  Then back to the room to shower before dinner.

View of the lagoon from our hotel
Lagoon Life

Beto set up a table for us with a table cloth and everything. Some of us got there early so we had a few drinks (though we noted that the piña coladas weren’t as good as the night before) and played word games until the sun set and dinner was served. Pablo, who lives on Isabela, brought his wife Lara and their adorable 8 month old son Kian, so we were a happy party.

Bottles at Dusk
Iguana spines
Sunset