I awoke about 7 and worked on blog entries on the phone for an hour before Sarah woke up. We got ready and walked down to the tour shop to try on our equipment for Sundays trip. Sarah quickly had fins, mask and snorkle in order while I struggled to try on the biggest wetsuit they had. It was super tight, but most of the time they are for me. I asked if they had something a little bigger but no luck. They said they would look around during the day and asked us to come back at 6. So, after another basic continental breakfast we walked with our rented snorkel and mask to the Interpretation Center, which turned out to be a far superior visitors center than the one on Santa Cruz. The Center covered the entire history of the Galapagos from when it was first discovered in the 1500s.
Afterwards, we followed a path that led us to Cerro de las Tijeretas, fridgate bird hill, a popular hangout for the fridgate birds. The cliff overlooked the cove we were planning on snorkeling in shortly. We could also see out to Los Lobos and Kicker Rock (Leon Dormir) where
After taking in the view, we set off for our snorkle spot. We were greeted by five or so sea lions stretched out on the path to the water. Most of them did not pay any attention to us but one grumpy old one seemed intent on not letting us get by him. Fine. No need to pick a fight with a gigantic sea lion. So we went around which seemed to keep him content. We jumped in the somewhat chilly water and snorkled in the cove. It was such a different experience. There was nobody else around so we had the whole place to ourselves other than the sea lions who were hooting and hollering from the rocks around the cove. The water was about 10-15 feet deep and we saw all kinds of colorful fish. The best part though was some of the sea lions came to swim with us. One young one was especially curious and swam by us for a while. Then the old grumpy one swam between Sarah and I, smiled, and polluted the water. I can't imagine it was on purpose but it sure seemed like
After a good 30-45 minute snorkel we continued down the path to a popular surf spot where a bunch of people were trying the waves. The beach is called Punta Carola, also known as Love Beach. Immediately after getting there we saw something in the water (not the surfers). It was a turtle! And then there was another one. And another. Every minute or two one would pop its head above the surface to catch a breath. It was so, so cool because they were really close to shore!
I tried to get up the courage to swim out to them, but there were signs warning of a very strong current and just in shallow areas we were being dragged around. So I waded in, about chest deep, hoping one would come close. But they didn't. Finally after watching a few booogie boarders venture out in the water without getting swept out to sea, I threw on the mask and snorkel and headed out. The current was actually not bad at all on the surface and really I was no more than 20 yards off the beach.
or so feet, so Sarah was the spotter. She was perched higher on the beach which allowed her to see the turtles better when they surfaced.
I put on my mask and snorkel and swam around hoping to see one below me. All of a sudden I hear Sarah screaming. I turn around to a huge sea turtle taking a breath just a few feet from me. I lowered my head in the water and followed him as he dove. The water was not more than 8 or so feet and with the size of the turtle I could just barely make him out on the bottom. Fortunately the turtle was not bothered by me and he cruised around eating algae off the black volcanic rock. If it was not for a big white gash (healed over) on his back, likely from a boat propellor, he would have been more difficult to follow. I followed him until he took his next breath and then Sarah and I switched. She got so excited I could hear her screams of joy through her snorkel.
We took a short break, gushing with excitement, and then headed back in. This time we
would just call each other when we saw one. It was not long before we were cruising around following more turtles. They were all different sizes with shell lengths anywhere from maybe 2.5 feet to one huge one that I would put at maybe 4 feet.
Some of the turtles were bothered by us and swam away. Others, like our buddy with the scar on his back, did not care in the least and went about eating as if we were not there. He was the most fun to watch. We could even see the little fish that swim around his mouth and feed on leftovers/clean him up.
I saw a turtle scuba diving in Belieze once, but that was only shortly and I was further away. I have seen them from fishing boats a few times as well. Those experiences, while great at the time, do not come anywhere close to this experience today. The Galapagos is just a whole new world!
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