Frigates in Love

Trip Start Jan 19, 2012
1
14
16
Trip End Feb 03, 2012


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Flag of Ecuador  , Galápagos,
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

During the night we've moved on to the west side of Santa Cruz Island. Our morning excursion is a "somewhat" dry landing and then walk to the top of Cerro Dragon or Dragon Hill. The landing consists of a hunk of black volcanic rock with some wood posts. Right! Every day a new challenge. Our landing is witnessed by a few blue footed boobies who don't move a single booty over our arrival.

I begin to think I'd like to have those Wellies we left behind on the Napo. Our walk is over rocks surrounded by red clay. The clay and the rocks are very wet. The clay is like...well, clay. It clings to our shoes. Soon, I'm several inches taller as the clay continues to accumulate. Everyone pauses in their stroll to try and kick some off. Then we get to navigate around the clay clumps as well.

Edie has found a lovely stick that works well both to walk with and to scrape off some gunk. The walk is well rewarded though in a fairly unique sight: Galapagos Greater Flamingos. They must have arrived for vacation from the mainland, found a nice salty pond and decided to stay. We also spot some land iguanas, especially number 8. Apparently nature surveys initially marked the iguanas with numbers as part of a tracking program. Now they use chips instead. We saw number 8 both on the trip up the hill and on the way back. I don't think he'd moved more than a foot or two.

Back to the beach, where we tried to wash off some of the red gunk and picked up sand instead on our wet shoes. I think I prefer the sand. Back on the ship they hose us down again. I think my socks are permanently clay-died red. I take the shoes up on the sunny deck to try and dry them out.

After lunch, we have a briefing on our departure schedule for the next day. Can't believe it's nearly over. I stop at the reception desk to download a photo of the flamingos for their contest. Sign away my rights in the process. Interesting if I see the shot used by them in the future.

We've sailed eastward around the top of Santa Cruz to land at the very small island of North Seymour, which is just north of Baltra (also known as South Seymour), where we started. This is a bird sanctuary where we expect to see Frigate birds. We might even see the males exhibiting their bright red neck pouches for the ladies. Those lucky girls!

This is a nice dry landing- hah! I should know better. Dry yes, but we get off on steep rocks. We begin our walk through the sand near the coastline. We're still a ways from the nesting ground and distracted by the pounding of some pretty impressive aqua waves. It's very very hot! Our path finally turns inland and I'm somewhat glad I grabbed one of their wood walking sticks. The path is mostly over large boulders with hints of the infamous red clay. As we walk further inland, we're surrounded by the large nests just beyond the paths filled with posturing red-pouched males hoping to get lucky. Some are already nesting and we see a few fledglings as well. As usual, we're pretty well ignored. I fall behind the rest, going crazy trying to take pictures while navigating boulders with a wooden stick that is most definitely useful but also in my way when manipulating the camera. Also, I could use a cool shower. And a cold beer! All in all though, quite an afternoon!

That evening, we all gather in the lounge for a farewell drink- one of those colorful things. And I win 3rd prize for my photo. Not sure who the judges were....but I did get a few congrats and complements from folks over dinner.

Back to the room and pack again- it's getting easier. There's way more dirty than clean and mostly is pretty damp.
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