'Bachelors' Colony

Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
Cruz del Sur

Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ok, not exactly the group of Bachelors I was hoping for but....pretty amazing anyway.  Up and out early to South Plaza Island - a very steep cliffed island formed by uplifted lava and covered by tree sized, stunningly beautiful, massive cactuses, endemic to the Galapagos.  Also on this small island are 700 yellow and red lizards - pretty small after seeing the massive iguanas everywhere else.  But they are not the big show on this little piece of land.  That show is all about the 'Bachelors' colony.  We could smell and hear it before we could see it.

On one end of the island are hundreds of sea lions - all males.  Male sea lions head a colony consisting of 15 to 20 females and they mate constantly.  The females are always pregnant - have one pup every year and just never get a break.  Supposedly all of this mating and fighting for 'king of the castle' with other males is exhausting, and every 3 months or so, these 'king' bulls need a rest to recover their tired genitals and heal the wounds they acquire in their never ending 'ultimate fighter challenges'.  So what to do?  Come to SouthPlaza, a sort of Man -Spa for tired out bulls and hang out with other tired out bulls and swap bullshit stories about bad ex partners.  Same same but different from pool halls and bars at home.   So here in the Bachelors colony you see so many injured bulls, recovering and fattening themselves up to return to their neighborhoods with vigor. I think there was even a dispensary for Bulliagra!  Also here are young bulls, still too young to compete for territory.  These little guys just hang around and listen to war stories and get excited about the time when they too can toss the testosterone.

As you would expect, it is a rather stinky place and very very busy.  These seals sleep and fish and sleep and fish.  They are magnificent in the water but look rather clumsy on land and they seem to like the high plateaus so they spend a lot of time coming and going back and forth from the sea to the land.  Very interesting.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to SantaFe Island to see the really giant opuntia cactus - they grow up to 33 feet high, and also the giant land iguanas that grow over 5 feet long.  This is the island of the big and beautiful.   The iguanas here are more yellow rhan black and feast on the giant cactuses: a favorite food for them.  Everything in the Galapagos is abundent.  You never have to look for anything - if it is found on a particular island, and each island has very different species, then you will see lots of each.  So so cool.  It is impossible to parlay this to you, - you really have to see it to believe it.

Carolyn is very new to snorkelling and has a real fear of the water.  The previous days she just watched us from the panga or the beach and on one occasion tried it while hanging onto the panga. She never got further than putting her face in the water. She listened to our stories of what we had seen and although she did get to see far more than most people would just by looking into the water from the boat or the beach - it is that clear and the fish and animals come right to the boat and beach - she really wanted to overcome her fear and 'just do it'.

What a day to push through the anxiety and doubt!  I took her hand,  and hand in hand - (Josh if you are reading this - remember my breakthrough in Bali with my fear of diving with tanks???? - Thanks for teaching me so I could teach her) - and away we went. I held her hand the whole time and just kept leading her as I pointed out cool things to see.

What a first day to snorkel!!!  For most people on this earth it might be their best snorkelling day ever and now she has the bar set at the top - forever.

We headed away from the boat - saw a giant turtle swimming very deep, loads of colorful fish of all sizes and as she got more comfortable, we headed to the deep.  Enrique and the others were already out and finding sharks - they were way below us in the deep.  As exciting as it always is to swim with sharks, it only got better.  10 small sharks - under 2 meters long,  approached us and joined our group at the surface - darting around us.  Carolyn was so overcome with the beauty and the amazing feat she had accomplished, she really had no room for terror.  She was rewarded by being at one with the sharks, rays - lots and lots of rays and they love to get close, turtles, sea lions and just the splendor of the sea. 

I was as proud of her as she was of herself.  This is somebody who wears a lifejacket in every boat, has real, real fear of the water and she just pushed through her limits and overcame a fear that had held her back for so many years. There is a lesson in there for us all.  You can only imagine how she felt and the day wasn't even over.

We still had the evening to party under the stars as the boat sailed for San Cristobal.

Earlier in the day we decided we should have a party. 12 of our group of 16 were getting off in San Christobal and we had made many new friends and were sad to see them go. It is amazing how quickly you get to know and like people when you are in such close quarters sharing such amazing things together. Carolyn and I supplied the rum and the coke from our stash.  It didn't take too much work to get most of the gang up on the dance floor.   Carolyn used to teach salsa and once her lessons started, some of the crew joined in and it became an international dance studio which lead to limbo which lead to a very late night for the Austrians - I was surprised to find out the Austrians outlasted the Australians!!!!!   Yeah Mary, Marina and Jakob - you did your country proud.

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