Greg claims that there will be days better than this one, but a lot of the folks on the boat are skeptical. We got up at 5:00 AM to do a seven mile hike on San Cristobal to find giant tortoises. Forty-odd tortoises and three and a half miles later we started the return trip, but detoured part way to climb a volcanic cone that was awe-inspiring — even Greg was taking photos from the top.
Following the morning’s hike the main events began — first there was snorkeling at Kicker Rock with a sea turtle, tons of fish, and a few rays and sharks that I didn’t see. Afterwards we headed towards shore and jumped into the water with what seemed like every young sea lion in the world — these guys did everything from blowing bubbles in our faces to staring at us from inches away to balancing sand dollars on their noses. After being in the cool water for almost three hours I was cold as ice but completely unwilling to get out — had I not gotten the worst leg cramp of my life I might still be there playing with them now. Happy times indeed.
The trip has finally happened — three and a half years of planning, and finally everyone is here. Spent a ton of time talking to Greg today — the man is a god — and after getting situated we all headed off to South Plaza, which is a small island inhabited by about a thousand sea lions and a fair number of birds and land iguanas. Even though I remembered that the animals were fearless, it was still weird to have a bird calmly preening itself two feet away from me, or to see a land iguana crawling ponderously towards me over the rocks. I’m back.
We have arrived in Quito after some particularly turbulent air — I never knew Aaron was afraid of flying, and laughed like mad while he was grabbing the armrests as we were coming into Quito. Aaron, who has never been outside of the US and Canada, continued to amuse us after arriving as he pointed out every sight he saw — “Dude, you can drive AND drink beers here!” — “Oh man, green means go and red means go, too!” — “The security guy in front of the hotel has a 9mm strapped to his chest!” This trip promises to be a memorable one.