During the night, the yacht traveled around 8 hours from Santa Cruz to Española Island. Española is on the southern most edge of the Galapagos Archipelago and is also the oldest island at around 3.5 million years old. The waves were much more stronger and the yacht rocked a lot. Luckily KKH and I were warned by the previous batch of passengers that the waves would be rocky so we were prepared. We kept all our breakable stuff in the bags and drawers. We also made sure that the doors were shut tightly before we went to bed. As a result, nothing in our cabin fell off during the night. But KKH and I kept waking up to the sound of things falling and doors banging in the other cabins.
The wake up call was back to the usual 7am. KKH and I stepped out of our cabin to find a rainbow on our side of the yacht. The rainbow curved in a graceful arc with both ends on the sea. This was the first time I saw a full rainbow. I wasn’t able to captured the whole rainbow on camera; it was too big. The rainbow didn’t stay long and disappeared before breakfast. What a beautiful start to the day.
We went to Suarez Point on Española in the morning. It was supposed to be a dry landing but Hernan felt that the conditions were good enough for a wet landing at the beach. So everybody took off their shoes and jumped into the water. Once we were on dry land, everybody put their shoes back on.
KKH sat down on a log, together with some of the passengers, to put on her hiking shoes. She did not notice that there was a male sea lion lying under the bush next to the log. The male sea lion must have felt they were too near. With a loud roar, he rose up and charged towards the people sitting on the log. Hernan quickly pulled KKH, who was nearest to the sea lion, away and the rest of the people scattered. The sea lion went back to sleep once he saw that the people had moved away. So KKH and I felt that the sea lion wasn’t really on a full attack; he just wanted to chase us away. Hernan said that KKH was lucky that the sea lion didn’t take off her face as they could move really fast if they wanted to. I guessed this was a reminder that even though they were not a danger to us, they were still wild animals and could be dangerous.
Española was a rocky island and the trail was a rock-strewn path. We had to watch each step as the ground was so uneven. It was easy to trip or twist your ankle. Sometimes the sea lions would sleep along the trail and we had to walk around them. They didn’t move so it was easy to just mistake them for a rock. All the more reason to keep your eyes on the ground.
There were also marine iguanas on this island. They were more colorful than the marine iguanas on the other islands.
It was the nesting season for the waved albatross. The albatross were great gliders and could glide for months on the oceans without touching land. This was why they were clumsy at landing and taking off, since they had little practice. They only stayed at Española to rear their chicks. They mate for life so each year the same pair would get together again. Their renewed their relationship by clicking their beaks together and we were able to catch a brief view of a pair in action.
The waved albatross got its name from the wave-like patterns of its feathers on its chest. They were considered a medium-sized albatross with a wing span of 2.25m. They were critically endangered, which was just two categories above extinction. Although they were protected on the Galapagos Islands, they roamed the oceans when it wasn’t the nesting season. They were killed when they became trapped in the long fishing lines from the boats. Hernan said it was a horrible death.
There were Galapagos doves on the island as well. They were brown little birds with light blue eyes. I always thought doves were white. Guess I learnt something new today.
Hernan brought us to the cliffs where we saw a lot of birds flying. The wind was very strong and I could feel the sea spray even though I wasn’t standing near the edge. At this spot, nature felt powerful and untamed.
The waves were strong and made a loud noise when they crashed against the rocks.
I wasn’t able to photo the birds in flight. My reaction time was too slow. But I did get some photos of the birds when they were at rest. The swallow-tailed gulls were one of the birds we saw.
The terrain of Española was rocky but flat. Because it was the oldest island, more plants were growing on it. Sometimes we would see these stop signs which were put up to tell us not to walk past this point. Jorge told us if they do not put up the signs, people would keep walking until they fall off the edge. He said it happened to three people last year.
We walked to the nesting sites of the blue footed boobies. It was a real treat to be able to see them so close. They made two kinds of calls; one was a honking sound and the other was a whistling kind of sound. We were not allowed to linger to prevent us from the scaring the boobies off their nests.
I thought the blue footed boobies were rather comical looking birds, not because of their blue feet, but because of their blank expression. The one on the rock was scratching itself with its right foot, like a dog.
We also saw a few nazca boobies. Jorge explained that “nazca” meant mask. The nazca booby got its name because the black patch around its face looked like a mask.
We came down from the cliffs and passed by a beach that was covered with rocks. The rocks here were not jagged like those on Fernandina Island because it was exposed longer to the elements.
A sea lion was sleeping beside the trail. As we were walking pass it, it suddenly decided that it wanted to go down into the water. So it walked down the trail as it was the easiest route. Meanwhile some of us were stuck at the top while the rest of us were at the bottom. All of us had to wait for the sea lion to move away before we could proceed on.
Then it was back to the yacht. Since it wasn’t time for lunch yet. I went up to the top deck with to read for a while. The book I was reading was a factual book and could be quite boring at times. Lazing under the bright sunshine, my eyelids began to get heavier and heaver, until I finally fell asleep. I slept for 30 mins and woke up just before lunchtime. After lunch, I went back to the cabin and tried to pack a little because we would be leaving in two days later. But the bulk of the packing would have to be done the night before.
At 3pm, we went to Gardner Bay. It had a beach of white sand which was 1km long.
There were a lot of sea lions sleeping on the beach and from far away, the beach looked like it was dotted with brown rocks.
It was a wet landing at the beach and we had to walk in between the sea lions. After this morning’s episode, I was a little wary of being too close to them. But the sea lions mostly ignored us.
I walked to the end of the beach until the rocks made it hard to proceed on. I saw some marine iguanas basking on the rocks.
Since few people came this way, I sat down to enjoy the scenery. A couple of hood mockingbirds joined me. They were quite bold and seemed unafraid of me. I kept seeing them digging in the sand, sometimes right where my footprint was. I never did figure out what they were digging for since they did not find anything. When I walked back to the beach, they followed behind and one of them even stood right in front of KKH for a few minutes.
Dinner was at the top deck again. This time, the chef grilled chicken and beef steak. We sat with the Japanese man and chatted with him. He was travelling alone and knew how to speak Japanese (duh!), English and Chinese. He was taking a month to visit Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. I couldn’t imagine travelling alone for such a long time in such a faraway place. He told us that we were the first Asians he met on the trip. He was glad to see us as it felt a bit lonely at times without meeting anyone from his part of the world.
After dinner, I stayed in the cabin and chatted with KKH until 9pm. That’s when I started to feel a bit seasick. So I went outside for some fresh air. The skies were clear and I could see more stars tonight.