Day three. A 5:15 AM wakeup was followed by an early landing on Flour Beach to look for nesting sea turtles. The turtles disappointed, but the soft sands were great, and the flamingos in the nearby lagoon put on a show for us. Breakfast was followed by not one but two snorkels, the first one at Champion with schools of fish and some really playful sea lions, and the second with the currents, sharks, octopus, and giant schools of fish at Devil’s Crown. It’s a tough call as to which one was better – the sea lions were a blast, following people around and obviously curious, but Devil’s Crown is a just a great spot with lots to see. Aaron managed to avoid killing himself diving in the caves this year, although Scott filled in nicely by failing to clear his ears while diving.
Still in the morning we did a kayak over to Post Office Bay, seeing sea lions and our first penguin enroute. Since another group was already at the post office barrel, and since in Greg’s words “it’s such a young group” we made a brief hike over to a lava tube cave before returning to the barrel. Lunch followed, after which we got into a truck/bus onshore (Aaron: “wow, this thing is so safe”) and headed up into the Floreana Highlands. I braved at least five attacks from a rabid, man-eating giant tortoise – it was only through sheer cunning and with ninja-like reflexes that I avoided an early demise. Scott and Aaron were later scared by endemic cows, Anna found several of the infamous snails and pre-empted the reason for Greg’s Snail Hill hike, and much of the group still chose to hike up the hill in the sweltering heat and then hike back to the settlement. Audrey and I reached the settlement shortly after sunset, grabbed a quick shower (cleanliness is a beautiful thing) and then joined the rest of the group on shore for a barbecue. A hunt for hermit crabs with Scott and Aaron ended the evening, and tomorrow we’re off to Isabela Island to visit the Sierra Negra volcano.