Day 5 – “Perfecto!”, as our guide Gustavo would say. We woke up to find our ship encased in a dense fog. The fog inhibited our ability to see whales, but it didn’t put a damper on our amazing day! We reached our destination of Punta Vicente Rocca (which is named after our guide Veronica’s ancestor) on the NW side of Isabella Island and went snorkeling off of the dingy boats. We were lucky to swim with sea lions, sea turtles and marine iguanas! The adolescent sea lions were curious about us and swam close to check us out. They entertained us with their acrobatics and playful antics. One sea lion chased a turtle and kept pulling on the turtle’s tail. The poor turtle kept trying to get away…the fun was pretty clearly one sided. A second sea lion went after a marine iguana (they like to play with the iguana’s tails). Happily, the iguana made it safely to the rocks. This outing is also where we first viewed Flightless Cormorants, which are only located on Isabella and Fernandina Islands. I got tired from swimming and went to hang out in the dingy. John stayed in the water, enjoyed the company of four playful baby sea lions, and managed to photograph penguins! Did I mention how unbelievably cute the sea lions are? John keeps telling me that I can’t bring one home! I swear that some of the baby sea lions we have seen would fit in our carry on! After our snorkel extravaganza we rode in our dingy boats along the coast and photographed additional sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and penguins.
In the afternoon, we landed on the beach at Urbina Bay and enjoyed a hike that featured sightings of 21 giant land tortoises. 21!!!! We encountered several tortoises as they walked along the path. Veronica, explained, “it is just easier for them to walk along the trail.” At one point our entire group had to stand aside to allow a tortoise to pass by. Further along the trail we had to stop when an encounter between tortoises heading in opposite directions became tense. It is clear that the only way to resolve the dilemma was to have a heated neck stretching “battle” to determine superiority. We learned that poor losers exist in the tortoise world. When the “loser” of the neck stretching contest walked around the winner, he gave the winner a very unsportsman-like push. The rest of the walk was less eventful. We saw a field where five tortoise ate, and witnessed a tiny female “running” from a huge male (who could blame her, he was three times her size!). Happily, every time she stopped to rest, he did, too!
John and I discovered a wonderful surprise when we came down to dinner. Marco, the bar tender, had decorated the dining area with balloons and streamers to celebrate our third anniversary! The chef, Arturo, made us a chocolate cake garnished with cherries, the crew made a nice card for us, AND all of our co-travelers sang “Happy Anniversary” to us to the tune of Happy Birthday. It was a lovely end to a wonderful day.