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Friday 3 Jan 2014
Isla Espanola, Ecuador

Curiouser and curiouser...

After a quick change, we were dropped off a Bahia Gardner (Gardner Bay) for a couple of hours on the beach.  There were once again sea lions aplenty and we sat watching them for ages.  Mum and Dad sat on the sandy shelf piled up by the waves and watched a couple of pups playing in the shallows.  Each time they moved, the sea lions followed them, and they eventually realised the pups were chasing their shadows.  Ailsa and I saw a tiny pup trying to dig up a stone.  He lost interest in the stone when the next wave washed a short stick up next to him, then he rocketed down the beach in pursuit as the wave rolled out again.  He spent the next 15 minutes playing with the stick just like a really puppy – biting it, tossing it about, chasing it back into the sea when the waves stole it.  He looked so forlorn when he lost it that Ailsa crept in and gave him a new one to play with, which he chased about for another 10 minutes.

We also had some fun with the mockingbirds.  They came right up to us to investigate our feet and our movements.  Dad kept one occupied for several minutes by just wriggling his toes in the sand so the mockingbird could inspect what he'd turned up.  I had one looking at his own reflection in the lens of my camera, even pecking at it just to be certain.  They followed us along the beach as we wandered.  They were such funny little creatures.

All tour boats in Galápagos have to follow the same itinerary and book timeslots for each visit in order to minimise the human footprint on the islands.  It also meant we were the only people in each place wherever we were, enhancing the sense of isolation and unique experience of each visit.  However, the last two days of our trip brought us in line with a few other boats, so we ended up snorkelling with other people or, in this case, sharing a beach with a big group of Americans including 15 noisy children aged around 5-15.  The beach was big enough to avoid them for the most part, but they definitely hadn’t got the message about staying 2m away from the wildlife.  Apparently the baby sea lion pups hadn’t got that message either.  I crouched down to get a photo of one pup with his face covered in sand.  He looked up at me and started shuffling quickly towards me to investigate.  I moved out of nipping distance and he chased me several metres up the beach until I let him sniff me and my camera.  Then he turned to investigate Ailsa’s feet and settled his head on her foot for a snuggle.  From the grin on her face, I thought she was going to burst.  I suspect Ailsa will remember that moment for quite some time…  Unfortunately, the kids saw what was happening and rushed in to watch, only to be barked at angrily by the mothers dozing nearby, and scaring the pup back to the group.

We headed back to the Queen Beatriz feeling peaceful and contented and enjoyed a cold beer on the deck, mulling over the incredible things we’d seen and done this week.  Once again, I am so pleased to have been able to share this experience with Ailsa and my parents.  I have done some amazing things this year and met some great people, some of whom I know I will stay in touch with, but there is something really special about sharing this place with people so close to me.  (Not least because they’ll actually understand what I’m talking about when I go on about this for the next few years!)  Dad even admitted to enjoying the snorkelling, even though he’d only gone in initially as a result of peer pressure. 

For our final briefing on the boat, Fabian showed us a presentation he’d put together in order to promote the Galápagos Islands on a Peregrine promo trip to Australia. There were beautiful photographs taken by a colourblind biologist friend of Fabian’s.  He’d caught some great moments and captured the personality of the creatures brilliantly.  I hope some of my pictures turn out even half as well.


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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #3 Ecuador and Galapagos Islands

Travel blog by zobeedoo



This is the big highlight of the year. Joined by my parents and reunited with Ailsa, we'll spend Christmas in Quito, then travel to Galápagos for New Year, celebrating in style with a week on the Queen Beatriz catamaran visiting the southern islands.

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