Every morning on the ship started with the 7 am announcement: “Damas y caballeros, muy buenos días”. We would then get a Spanish and then English description of the day’s activities. This particular day started with a ride on the panga to see an alpha male sea lion with his harem. The babies saw us coming and immediately started following our panga. They really love to play with people.
The grownups were more sedate, just lying in the sand and ignoring us. We did see one of the bachelors hop in the water and swim too close, but the alpha male quickly chased him off, no fight that time, but you know he’ll be back.
We could also see sea turtles popping their heads out of the water around the panga, but none of those pictures came out particularly clear (someday I’ll go back with a better camera). My camera was actually a huge annoyance this particular day; it locked up so bad I had to pop the batteries out and put them back in just to reset it. This while we were near two Galápagos penguins sunning themselves on some rocks, a rare site. Our panga driver, appropriately named Darwin, saw I was having trouble and made sure we stayed close by until I could get my pictures, and luckily the penguins didn’t move either.
We went to shore at the barrel that was the post office for the islands back in the day, and that was where we tried out snorkeling for the first time. I wasn’t the only one who had never tried snorkeling before (aside from as a kid in someone’s pool), but the conditions here were perfect: calm waters, not too deep, and sunny enough to see underwater clearly. A few sea lion pups frolicked with us, swimming close but never quite touching, rolling around and spinning and looking back at you like now it’s your turn. There were a few sea turtles as well, floating and eating with fish lurking nearby in case they dropped something good.
After lunch was snorkeling again, this time in deep, choppy waters with a lot more sea lion pups looking to play. There was a narrow rocky ledge near the outcropping we were swimming around, but after that there was nothing but blue. Nothing under us. (It made me think of the movie THE ABYSS. I love that movie.)
The current was a lot stronger, strong enough that when I tried to go back to our snorkel buddy who had fallen behind the group, I couldn’t do it. I was like a cartoon character, working harder and harder but always just staying in one place. Exhausting; I wish I could replicate it at home because it’s a real high intensity workout.
But something else was going on. Remember how the night before was a full moon? As I was swimming I would occasionally feel like zings on my arms and legs, nothing too upsetting but definitely odd. Those were coral spores, which get released at the full moon. I never saw what they looked like, the water was so choppy, but I’m guessing they’re pretty small.
Then I paused to regroup with my husband and our buddy and he said, “there’s a jellyfish on your face.”
“What?” I can’t see it, I don’t feel it, I’m not entirely sure he isn’t joking. “Get it off me!”
“It’s OK, just let it sting you.”
Apparently jellyfish also like the full moon.
So I had a nice welt across my cheek for the next few days. It’s like if you’ve ever weeded a garden and accidentally pulled up a nettle with your bare hand, not like a bee sting but it definitely has a hot, lingering effect for quite a long time.
One of the other snorkelers had one wrapped around his arm that he had to peel off. That one left a really bad-ass mark.
After that we had a more sedate walk from a rocky beach to an inland lagoon. We were back in arid lands.
The lagoon was the nesting ground of pink flamingos, which were cool. I looked at them through binoculars but alas they were too far away for my tiny camera. Then our walk continued to a white sandy beach…
…where sea turtles liked to crawl ashore and lay there eggs…
I don’t have to tell you that was a full, exciting, exhausting day. I crashed hard that night.
For a couple of hours, then the yacht started navigating again. So I was awake for five or six hours while the cabin vibrated around me, then got about an hour of sleep in before: “damas y caballeros, muy buenoas días”.