Saturday, October 13, 2012

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Gardner Bay and Suarez Point, Española

Did I say it was going to be a rough night?  No sooner did I shut down my computer and look over at Robin and he had a “I think I am going to be sick right now” look on his face. He had taken another anti-nausea pill about 10 minutes before we started moving but in hindsight, he should have taken it about an hour or so before. He vomited of course and then emerged from the bathroom saying he felt better. He sat on the floor of the cabin (which is extremely small) because he was not feeling well enough to go to the top bunk where he was sleeping. Then about 10 minutes later, he went back to the toilet to vomit again.
At that point, I was still feeling okay but the sound, sight or smell of vomit can make me vomit even if I am not sick. I can handle blood, gore, open wounds, feces, and any number of gross things but the sound of sight of vomiting does me in. So what did I do? I opened the cabin door, sat on the floor (I could not stand up without putting myself in danger of falling overboard) and put my head outside so I didn’t have to listen to the sound of him vomiting. When he was done, I asked if he was okay and when he said he was okay (but still nauseous), I came back in, gave him a pair of seasick bands (supposed to work on the pressure points on your wrist area but I think they are more of a placebo) and I put on a pair myself and sat waiting to get sick (although I was still feeling okay at that point). I decided a few minutes later that I would be pre-empt my bout of vomiting by taking a quarter of an anti-nausea pill. Big mistake. It made me have the most horrible dreams that Robin had to keep waking me from. I mentioned that he had the top bunk but in order to get to the bathroom if he needed to in a hurry, he decided to sleep on the floor of the cabin. There is not enough room to stretch out completely (with suitcase and bags of the floor) so he slept in sort of semi-fetal position until about 2:30am when the yacht stopped. Then he went to bed and what it was a relief it was for me. The cabin was extremely hot and stuffy during the night (not sure why) so I part-opened the door and held it in place with my backpack and then had a really good sleep till 6am when we woke up for breakfast at 7.

I know this is not pretty to write about, especially when it is supposed to be an adventure of a life time but this is part of the adventure. Just know that if you are planning to do such a cruise, and you are prone to motion sickness (even if you are not), you will likely get sick. I went out to the front of the yacht and there Rob and Sherry were there. They were both sick all night – Rob vomiting in the bathroom and Sherry out the side of the boat. Sue who was good about sharing some extra anti-nausea patches with others said she did well and was surprise but she had the patch and took some anti-nausea meds last night. By the time we got into the lounge, half the people had been sick and several of them slept in the lounge last night. I felt fine and didn’t get sick but we are expecting to have two more long and rough nights so I just might.
Gardner Bay
After all this about being sick, did we do anything in Espanola? We did. But before that, Lupo the chef prepared pancakes, boiled eggs, fruit salad, cereal, granola, yogurt, strawberry juice and of course tea and coffee for us. I had a bit of each and so did everyone it seems, even though they were sick last night. We had a wet landing on the island and walked for an hour seeing many sea lions, several marine iguanas (reddish colour to blend in with the surroundings), some sea turtles in the water, mockingbirds that are not shy about coming right up to you looking for water and hoping that you’ll share your bottled water with them.


We got back on board about 10am (yes we did all that before 10am) and I went to have a shower. Lenin the bartender/server had some snacks ready for us – spicy corn puffs, tortilla chips with dip, fresh orange sections and of course tea, coffee and hot chocolate. The one thing you can say about the Darwin – they feed you all the time. Then at 10:30 a few of the passengers went for another bit of snorkeling off the dinghy. It’s nice and quiet on the yacht so I am catching up with my blogging. When the others got back from snorkeling, they said that it was amazing with the sea lions playing around their faces in the water. 

Suarez Point, Española

We left about 2:30 for a dry landing where we walked a 1.8 km rocky trail but it took about 3 hours because there was so much to see. When we got to the docks, there were a number of sea lions waiting for us so Omar had to shoo them off by rustling a life jacket. Then we saw a colony (I don’t know of a better word to describe the tangle of marine iguanas. And if I thought that was a lot, we needed only walk another 10 or 15 feet and there was another colony and more and more of them. I have not seen so many of one kind of reptiles in one place as there were of the iguanas. I really would not want to be there at night with all of them. If you are prone to being grossed out, the sheer numbers would do that.
We walked some more, being careful where we stepped because there were baby sea lions and iguanas everywhere and none of them had any fear of humans. They were all basking in the heat of the sun and we had to find another path to walk around them if they happened to be in the designated walking areas. 
We rounded a corner and suddenly in front of us I saw the most gorgeous blue-footed boobie. This bird had the most amazing turquoise webbed feet. I have never seen anything like it before but this was one of the birds I really wanted to see. I was so excited that I could hardly get my camera out of my bag fast enough thinking that I might not see another one. But I was not to be disappointed. There beside the male was a female who was sitting on three eggs. The two of them take turns doing that. She lays 3 eggs – one each week for three weeks and then sits on them for 15 days, never leaving them. The male goes off to find food and brings it to her. He then sits on the eggs for another 15 days while she goes and finds food. After that time, she takes the remaining 15 days by which time the first egg hatches – 45 days in all. Then she sits with the first baby until the second one is born a week later and then another week later for the third. They may not all survive and if they do, the last one may end up dying anyway because the first baby gets most of the food. The pair of parents are monogamous for the duration of the season and then they go off their separate ways when the babies grow up. The turquoise feet are utterly stunning but the feet can change to navy blue when they are getting ready to mate. Out of 5-6 suitors, the hen looks for the male with the darkest colour webbing and that’s the one she mates with for the season.

Then off we went on the hunt for other birds but you never know what you are going to come across and each time, it’s a thrill to discover another unique species of birds. I felt like a kid in a candy store, anticipating the next flavor and can’t wait to see and taste it. Well the next surprise was just around the next bend in the trail. We came across the masked boobie, now renamed the Naska boobie. This one is white with black wing tips and black marking where the beak touches the feathers. The markings look like the bird is wearing a mask; hence the name. They are from the same family of boobies but they lay only two eggs, one week apart but only one of the chicks survive because they are very aggressive towards each other and to other birds and the first chick that is born usually ends up killing the second one because it wants all the food that the parent brings.
And you will not believe how many millions of flies there were! I am sure that if you opened your mouth to speak, they’d fly right in. That was a major annoyance but soon after that walk, we had some time to snorkel or swim so I snorkeled for a bit and saw nothing. That was okay though because I didn’t have to contend with the flies.

I felt completely satisfied that I had seen all I wanted to see in the Galapagos but we walked to another open area and as I rounded the corner, I saw the ugliest looking, kind of half-naked bird about the size of a large turkey. I thought the poor thing must have been in a serious fight because the underside of one breast area had no feathers and the parts that did not look pretty at all. In fact the thing looked like someone had plucked the live bird and left a few feathers before pitching it out of a moving car.

When I asked Omar what it was, he said it was a baby albatross. I thought to myself: “He must be kidding. Albatrosses are pretty.” Then suddenly from the sky I saw this huge bird swooping down to the ground. When it landed, it was a fully grown albatross, with a lovely yellow beak and feathers in various shades of white to dark grey. It really was quite striking. I thought of the ugly duckling growing up to be an elegant swan.

We walked some more and Omar took us to see a blow hole. It’s a sort of geyser; only it doesn’t shoot out hot water as those we saw in Iceland. This one is formed when the current hits the wall of the island and the force of the water wears away a hole in the volcanic soil and that pressure of the water hitting the wall makes the water shoot up in the air, sometimes as high as 5-6 metres.

Then it was time to walk back to the dinghy but not before walking through a den (how do you refer to a bunch of sea lions?) of sea lions and their new babies. There were lots of them around and the babies sounded like little babies crying for their mommies. Two of them about three months old were frolicking with each other and they were completely covered in sand. When I looked at them, they looked like they were just caught doing something they should not have been doing. That made me smile and think of when Subhadra was a toddlerjar of Zincofax and rubbed it all over her face and by the time I saw her, there she was with her cute little eyes looking out at me from a completely covered white face. I laughed so hard and then got the camera and took a picture. She must have thought it was a good thing because a few days later she repeated the same thing except this time I was not so funny so I had to scold her. Mixed message there. First time a laugh and a picture. Second time a scolding. Hmmm. Consistency is the key.
What started out to be a bad day of being sick (yes Robin was vomiting at lunch time too), turned out to be a good afternoon. The boobies and albatrosses made up for any seasickness. This evening is supposed to be more of the same though so Sue gave Robin a half of a patch that has some meds in it and Lynn gave him some non-drowsy anti-nausea pills. And he is wearing the wrist bands that I gave him. He may be have a great night and I may be the one being sick. We’ll see. I’ll bid good night and hope that tonight is not going to be a repeat of last night. Apparently the yacht will be swaying heavily from side to side tonight instead of backward and forward. Makes no difference to someone being sea-sick I think. It’s rocking so weather it’s from side to side or back and front, it’s still swaying. I’m posting lots of pics. so as to distract you from the vomiting. Those are more pleasant and they’ll be a good reminder that the trip was worth it.


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