It wasn't a promising start to the day. We woke to heavy rain, which wasn't what we had ordered for a day out in the boats. We have not had great weather, on the whole, but this was the worst. So when we arrived at breakfast at 7am, all packed and ready to go, we discovered that our outing had been postponed till 9am in the hope of an improvement. By 9 the rain had eased but not stopped but we forged ahead regardless. A few stayed behind, either because of the weather or feeling unwell, so there were only 7 of us, plus Chris & Jess, Veronica, and the boat crew (2 men on each boat – and we had 2 boats). Since we end up wet after snorkelling anyway, we decided the rain was no big deal, and this time I had remembered a jacket so was not as cold as yesterday.
Our first port of call was a small group of islets called The Four Brothers, or Cuatro Hermanos (no doubt there is a story to go with that name) which were sheer rocky cliffs rising to volcanic peaks. We were taken to a cleft in the rock that lead to a cave big enough to take the boat into for a short distance. I'm sure there is some pirate treasure hidden in there somewhere. A few hardy souls went for a quick snorkel there, but the water was very cold. Apparently the water was the clearest of any snorkelling site yet on the trip.
Travelling at full throttle we powered on until we reached a relatively sheltered area of small mangrove-lined bays and inlets. The crew of each boat threw out a fishing line (they gave Keith a turn with the rod) with the hope of catching some lunch – it took a while but we managed to catch several small fish (which we threw back) and three large ones (bass I believe), with which the crew proceeded to prepare ceviche for our lunch. While they chopped and diced, most of us went snorkelling. I decided not to go in as I had a bit of an earache, and the water didn't look all that clear. By now the rain had cleared and the skies were mostly blue. The sun shone and it was very pleasant relaxing on the boat and staying dry!
It turned out to be the right choice. The snorkellers said the visibility was pretty poor, because of the earlier rain – apparently a sea lion swam right beneath Keith and he didn't see it. Back on the boat we were treated to a great display as the frigatebirds soon heard there was fresh fish on our boat and hovered hoping for scraps (and posing beautifully for photos). Eventually the crew threw them the tails and other scraps and they caught them mid-air. The squabbling over the morsels was fun to watch.
Once everyone was back on board we motored in one boat around to the next bay for a little beach walk, while the chef/boat crew finished the ceviche on the other boat. The sand was volcanic i.e. black, and there was lots of debris on the beach (seaweed, bones, driftwood) but there were sea lions, including 2 males and one very tiny baby. Usually you only find one male in an area, so the presence of a second meant that the old male was soon to be challenged and probably deposed. Which meant both were fairly aggressive and we were very careful not to get too close. Those guys can move when they want to! We took some photos but the boat crew were getting worried and called us back to the boat fairly quickly.
Soon our lunch was ready and it was spectacular! You couldn't get fresher fish, and the flavour of the ceviche was perfect. They served it with plantain chips and a glass of Coke (or water), and there were sandwiches as well. Then fresh watermelon to round off the meal. Sitting on the water, enjoying the view and the sun and great food – this is what holidays are all about.
The trip back to Puerto Villamil was rather bumpy as we sped over the waves, crashing down with bone-jarring thumps. We hugged the coastline fairly closely, and I enjoyed watching the huge waves crashing over the rocky shores. We didn't get back to the little harbour until 5pm, it was a long but very fun day.
Happy hour tonight was at a different beach bar. This one has a beach volleyball net (which seemingly has a permanent game going on), a fireplace on the sand which we sat around, and very cheap drinks. Another fun place to hang out. It is next door to the Bar de Beto, our usual spot, where we ended up for dinner. We had tried to eat there before but you had to pre-order. The menu was lobster, shrimp or beef (that's all we knew). Keith & I chose shrimp, which was very tasty, though I think there was more garlic than shrimp (and there were plenty of shrimps). They served a little banana with chocolate sauce for dessert – mmm. We all loved the atmosphere at the Bar de Beto, it was such a relaxed, holiday-on-the-beach kind of place.