Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I slept very well on the boat, which is surprising. I normally have a lot of trouble staying asleep but I think they just wore me out. Genene and I hit the rack before 10PM last night, and I did not wake up until 3:30 AM when the boat stopped. You can definitely tell when we are motoring on the high seas. The boat rocks, and the sound of the engine is quite loud. All of it lulls me to sleep.
The white board:
This morning’s wake-up was at 7:00 AM. The “call” each morning came in the form of some music being piped in over the PA system. The first morning we were all slightly amused because it was an instrumental version of “Hotel California.” Was it a threat or a promise? (You can check out any time you like but…you can never leave!)
Anyway, after a minute-long musical interlude of some sort, the guide announced, “Buenos Dias, Good morning! This is your wakeup call. Breakfast will be served in 30 minutes. Please get ready for the day. Wake up! Wake up!”
I stepped out the door and took in the sunrise.
We splashed water on our faces and took the few short steps from our cabin to the main dining room. Another great breakfast awaited. We had cereals (including the ever-popular chocolate puffs, which were attacked by the kids), fresh fruit, fruit juices, meats and cheeses, hot coffee, and some kind of omelette. We must be fortified for our adventures lest we become famished.
At 8:30, we climbed into the pangas and headed for a wet beach landing on Bachas Beach. Our guide explained that the beach was named because during World War II, US troops had a presence in the Galapagos. On Santa Cruz, barges were loaded and unloaded. The local Spanish-speakers could not say “barges,” and so the beach became Bachas.
The kids took a close-up look at the Sally Lightfoot crabs:
We walked a short distance to the beach area to see the sea turtle nests and their tracks. We saw one swimming in the water.
The babies make these small tracks as they try to reach the sea after they hatch:
A flamingo searches for food in a brackish pool. Our guides explained that the flamingos send scouts. The rest of the flock remains behind on another island while a few brave souls go looking for food. If they find good eats, they go back and get the rest of their troop.
After walking on the beach for about an hour, our guides released us to snorkel off the beach for another hour. I saw a ray, puffer fish and lots of fish whose names I do not know. The kids all elected to stay on the beach and swim without their snorkels.
One of the panga drivers let them get on board the panga, and he took them out into the deeper water so that they could jump over the side. It was fun to snorkel off the shore and listen to their squeals of delight close by. The kids got along famously and so did the adults. I was amazed by the group we were traveling with. Every single person was smart, fascinating and fun. It even seemed as if we parented our kids in the same style. It was a joy to share the adventure with them.
A few shots from our snorkel interlude.
After the morning snorkel, we returned to the boat and had lunch at noon. Between noon and 3:00 PM, the boat moved to another landing on Santa Cruz, Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill). Most people took a siesta or sat on the top deck reading a book.
At 3:00 PM, we went swimming and snorkeling off the beach, where we saw schools and schools of fish. Genene snorkeled without a wetsuit or life vest. She is so confident with her swimming. I am proud of her. In this regard, she takes after her dad.
As soon as we got back on board after snorkeling, we changed into hiking shoes and went back to Cerro Dragon, Dragon Hill. The landing was dry but very slippery. We made our way gingerly across the algae-covered black lava rocks and went for a hike.
Our landing point:
We returned to the boat at 7 pm and had a beer while the guides presented their powerpoint presentation and prepped us for the next day’s activities. They had to “shush” us several times because all of us–parents, grandparents and children–have become quite friendly and consequently are boisterous and talkative. There were laughs all around as we tried to sing the various national anthems–Star Spangled Banner, God Save the Queen, and O Canada. The kids all love to play with one another, and they taught each other pattycake games, card games, dumb jokes and riddles, and so on. Our guides finally had to say, “We are so glad you are such a good group and are getting along so well, but we do need you to listen for a few moments.” And so we quieted down and got our orders. And then came the favorite line of the Gordons: “And now, dinner is served.”
We tried to sit with someone different every night, and it was fun to get to know all of them. It was as if we had ordered these people from central casting. Each person brought a different set of fascinating stories to the table. Everyone has been on great adventures, and it is fun to hear about them all. The kids all rushed to their own table. Abel poured wine generously during all the meals. We shared the day’s adventures and our excitement about what tomorrow might bring. What will we see next?
The ship got underway just as soon as the last person set foot on board, and we were traveling at a good clip throughout the briefing, the dinner and onward into the night. Our guides told us that we would have a good 13 hours of speedy travel to get to the next island by morning light.