Iguanas & Penguins

Isabela Bound
There and back again

As usual, we had an early breakfast at one of the cafes in town. Bread here is so delicious – it all seems to be made fresh on the premises, and is different but equally good in each cafe. We walked along the beach and road, past the odd basking sea lion or iguana, to the wharf, where we were met by two small water taxis for a local bay tour. These water taxis are open sided wooden boats with an outboard motor, perfect for maneuvering in shallow waters and getting in close.

Around the wharf – stepping over sea lions – the wharf – fortunately not our boat – water taxis waiting for a fare

We headed to a small island where, we were informed, there may or may not be Galápagos Penguins. We were thrilled to find about half a dozen basking on the rocks and hopping in and out of the water. It is so strange to see penguins in such a warm climate. This time we had calm water and plenty of time, so I was much happier with my photos.

Penguins, including a young one losing his baby down.

Our next stop on the tour was another small island (so small it doesn’t have a name), where we disembarked. The whole island was covered in jagged lava rocks, but fortunately there was a nice smooth path to follow. There were countless marine iguanas, especially lots of young ones, as the island is a breeding ground for them. Even baby iguanas are cute! We took way too many photos, of course, but they pose so nicely! There is a natural canal on the island where the ‘tintoreras’ (white tipped reef sharks) like to hang out, and sure enough we saw several there, both swimming and resting. And for a bonus a Galápagos sea turtle swam up and down the canal a couple of times.

Marine iguanas – and one lava lizard hitching a ride.

Tintorera, sally lightfoot crab, jagges landscape, oystercatcher, sea turtle

We spent around 90 minutes on the little island, and then went for a snorkel. Between the whole group we saw stingrays, sharks, sea turtles, sea lions and lots of fish, although Keith & I seemed to not be in the right place at the right time, and missed some of the sightings. Still, it was fun, though I am not getting any better at hoisting myself back onto the boat – it’s not a pretty sight!

We got back to town in time for lunch. I’m not sure if there are enough restaurants for us to go to a new one every time, but we are working our way through them. Today’s had an extensive menu, starting with three mysterious items – breakfast $5, lunch $5, dinner $5. Most main courses were $10-$18. We wondered if it was some kind of surcharge, but it turned out those were the ‘house specials’. Not quite sure what we’d get, Chris & Jess and Keith & I ordered “lunch”. It turned out to be fish soup, followed by grilled fish with rice and vegetables, a huge serving that looked exactly the same as what some others had ordered except they had shrimps or chicken. The best value meal I’ve ever eaten, and tasty to boot.

Impossibly cheap lunch, and super-tasty dinner

The afternoon was free, as apparently most will be here on Isabela. Keith & I sat by the beach and culled photos for a while, and then slept for about 2 hours, and were almost late for dinner. Speaking of dinner, I think this may have been the best meal of the trip so far. We tried a different restaurant, which looked nice, and was playing Ecuadorian (or at least Latin American) music. The house specials were swordfish or lobster, so most of us had one of those. I chose the lobster which was divine. Beautifully served, tender, perfectly cooked and delicious. A bit more expensive than the other meals, but still cheaper than a lobster would cost to buy raw at home. Those who had the swordfish are still raving about their meal too.

Light painting – such fun, but not quite perfected yet.

After dinner we met on the beach and played with some light painting, using coloured LED lights and our camera. Lots of fun, and something very different to do.

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