Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Isla del Coco and the Galapagos

After my last posting, things started to get really cool - no more of that marina-hopping down the coast but just clear blue water and isolated islands. Isla del Coco was a treat - snorkeling there was like jumping into a well-stocked aquarium (complete with sharks and rays and schools of fish) and the land can`t be described without the words `dramatic` and `breathtaking`. There are some 200 waterfalls on the island (only 2 miles by 4 miles), dozens of which fall over cliffs directly into the ocean.

And from there we motored south, crossing the equator, to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. True to the bruchures, we have gotten up close and personal with giant land tortoises, seen countless marine iguanas (which, amazingly, can hold their breath for up to an hour to snack on underwater seaweed and algae) and penguins (at the equator!) and blue-footed boobies and much much more. We have literally been fending off the sea lions from our boat with sticks and water hoses. It´s all a bit ridiculous.

I am, however, ready to get on our way out of town and away from the tourism hype and commercialism of the islands - you almost can´t do anything without hiring a guide and the boat has been handcuffed into one bay of one island, forcing us to spend our time in the crowded anchorage of Puerto Ayora and buy into expensive tours in order to see the rest of the islands - in short, to behave like the common tourist. Well, as we are accustomed to coming and going as we please, we don´t want to do that and are looking forward to our next stops.

Really, considering what we saw in Cocos and what we will be seeing in the next couple of months, we have nothing to feel bad about for wanting to say goodbye to the Galapagos. It´s been cool to see the animals (the diversity and tameness of which, to be sure, is like nothing else I´ve ever seen) and spend a little more time around the spanish language, but the Pacific islands and atolls with their snorkeling and diving and isolation are calling and I´m ready to heed their call.

We leave, as long as our appointment for buying diesel comes through, this Friday for the Marquesas. We´re looking at it taking us around 16 to 18 days, depending on our speed, depending on our fuel consumption (we´ll go slow at first to conserve fuel, speeding up with our comfort level as we go). I hope to make it, obviously, with no major stories to tell, only pictures to show of those (reputedly beautiful) islands.

Until then, here is a sampling of some of the shots I´ve got from Cocos and Galapagos (and between).

Dolphins swimming at the bow of the boat in the (incredibly clear) water approaching Cocos Island

One of the 207 photos of the Cocos Island coast I took with my new camera during our dinghy tour around the island...I was kind of excited

Cocos Island shoreline...pretty typical

The Khushiyan (Dinette, Naveen, me) crew at a Cocos Island swimming hole

Crossing the equator - has this ever been done before??

Tortoises monching away

Swimming with the sea lions on Floreana Island of the Galapagos

Lizards abound and they, too, follow the rules

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