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March 9th 2018
Published: February 20th 2019
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Day seven (a day late as was too tired).

A close encounter of a sea lion kind.

Palomino Islands.

Our sea lion tour didn’t start until around 11am and, by that time, we were both nervous and excited. The boat was much like the one we went on the day before, several rows of two seats and a capacity of just over 30 people.

We were blessed with the weather too, hot and sunny with calm waters. The guide explained that, just last,week, they hadn’t been able to get out to the protected rocks where the sea lions live because it was too rough.

Once we all piled off the coach, 28 of the thirty people on board decided they needed to go to the bathroom. O-o. Ridiculous really as the coach journey was around 4 minutes and they could have gone before getting on board. I think they panicked when they were told the excursion on the boat was 2 and 1/2 hours. Still....it was a delay of almost half an hour to allow them all to go and it was mildly annoying! Luckily, the guide said it wasn’t going to count as tour time.

Dave and I were by far the youngest on the tour and we suspected not many of the others were planning on going in the water. (i guessed this when I saw most were dressed in slacks, shirts and ties etc!).

Once everyone was loaded on, this took a while because there were some real mobility issues and it wasn’t easy to get from the dock to a moving, small, vessel, we headed off. Dave and I sat right at the back, it’s easier to to stand up here without. Compromising anyone else’s view.

The trip to the islands took around half an hour and it was a fun, bumpy ride. Like the day before, the natural rock formations were stunning and covered with a array of birds and crabs. We saw boobies, pelicans and even the cute and elusive penguin. Yup, Peru has penguins! They were so tiny, little miniature penguins perched on the lower flatter rocks.

The pelicans were really impressive and seemed to be made of stone they sat so still. We headed past the first set of rocks and then out into open sea for a while. It was quite choppy here but not bad enough to worry anyone. Fishermen in tiny little row boats were dotted here and there and they waved happily to us as we passed. They actually row out to the islands....miles off the mainland.

We caught our first glimpse sea lions as we approached a really large island and the guide took us round the different colonies. They seemed to go in a kind of age order. We had the juvenile rock, then some slightly older sea lions on another island and, finally, the main colony. They were barking and calling as as approached and the noise was something else. Quite nerve wracking really, especially when the guide said this was where we were going to be jumping in!

There were huge lumbering males sitting higher up on the rocks and, down lower, the more curious females and some younger boys. They didn’t approach the boat right away but some of them slipped from the rocks into the water for a closer look at us.

The guide asked who was going in and two hands went up.....David’s and mine. Then, from the front of the boat a little voice said “I was thinking about it but I’m not sure”. The voice belonged to a nervous looking old gal who had made the effort to wear a swim suit but looked as though she was about to bottle it. We gave her so much encouragement that, quite quickly, she agreed and got into a wetsuit.

I was the only one of the three not to want a wetsuit. Cold? I laugh in the face of cold, HAHAHA.

We had one guide kit up too and he explained that the rocks are their territory so stay off the rocks..... he also said that the most non-threatening way to be in the water is to float on our backs showing our feet......sounded legit. Excitement was reaching fever pitch by this point and we were both keen to get in. We had to sign legal disclaimers...again fairly standard and the guide explained that if they do bite, its friendly, like a puppy. My memory of puppies is that they have needle like teeth so this didn’t do much for my nerves!

Our guide man jumped off the side of the boat first, followed by me, David and then the other lady. She immediately seemed to regret her decision, the water was very very cold and, as we went under, it did take your breath away.

I noticed the crescendo of noise from the sea lions seem to increase as we hit the water. Almost right away, some of those curious girls started to swim toward us.

They were so funny, it was like they were egging each other on to get closer to us. We Had to be careful because the tide pulled us in to the rocks.......Had we gone on to the rocks then we would definitely have been attacked because that is their territory.

The longer we spent in the water the more confident the sea lions got with us being there. They were close enough to reach out and touch and, swimming underneath us as well. You could feel their bodies moving the water very close to us.

Little heads kept bobbing up and peeking out to us from the waves before diving back down and swimming away. They got closer and closer and made cute little barking sounds at us which were definitely friendly!

One little rascal swam up to my legs, nipped at my toe and then moved underneath me and butted my backside. She came up a few meters away chattering noisily. Apparently, it was friendly and she liked me!

I wish we could have stayed in the water for a lot longer but, as a protected area, it’s strictly monitored. We had just over ten minutes and, to be honest, it was quite cold by now! Getting in required clambering up a sheer ladder which Dave and I managed fine but our brave older lady did struggle with. Those who remained on the boat gave us a loud round of applause when we got back on board and the three brave souls high fives and patted each other.

One old man said we were all certifiable! Probably.....but it was worth the risk and the memory of swimming with WILD animals will last a lifetime. I felt privileged to have been able to do it. And david, he doesn’t swim, he doesn’t even like the water......what an effort. I don’t have a fear of water but I know he does and I’m so proud of him for facing that and not letting it stop him experiencing incredible things like we did today.

So....back to mainland we went, proud of ourselves and not injured at all. Once we had dried off and changed back aboard the ship we headed out again and took a 45 minute shuttle bus (complimentary). Into Lima, the main city of Peru.

We came back about two hours later. Lima was a bit....underwhelming. A city, yes....but, aside from the giant modern mall where we were dropped off....we couldn’t find any shops or places of interest. It was busy, the traffic was insane but there were no shops.... just residential flats, high rises.....opticians and dentists.

Turns out you need taxis to get around and, with the traffic, and our lack of Spanish, we didn’t think getting in a taxi was wise. It’s a shame because we were actually in Lima overnight and have another day here today....we will go to the little port town instead I think. Lima.....not for us.

So that was yesterday..... we are still docked today and will be headed out after I finish this. The little port town is called Callao.... it looked nicer than Lima as we drove through it yesterday so, hopefully, it’s more out kind of place.

All in all though, an awesome day.


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