We appreciated that he took the time to
tell us this because sometimes he seemed uncaring and calloused.
Perhaps it was just that he did not know enough English to be
compassionate or caring because at times I thought he was a bit
About 11, Erick, our able-bodied
seaman, waiter and jack of all trades bartender, came to gather the
four of us and take us back to the boat in the panga. Getting in and
out of the panga was the most difficult thing for me on this trip as
I have no sense of balance at all. It was a wonder that I managed
not to fall during those eight days. Of course, there was always a
hand to help me.
Eleven new people came aboard. We are
truly international again as the US, England, France, Spain and the
Netherlands are represented. Everyone is fluent in English except
the Spanish couple, but I think they understand more than they want
us to know.
After lunch we steamed to Isla Lobos
so named because a very large sea lion colony is there. The babies
are so adorable, climbing all over the rocks calling their mommies.
It was a dry landing and the pathway began very easy with mostly
sand, but it quickly turned into a trial for me as we had to
scramble over very large lava rocks and boulders. Even though I had
my staff I would never have made it without Jim’s help! It was the
hardest thing I’d done so far and that includes the muddy steep
trail to see the Cock of the Rock in the Mindo area. I was exhausted
when we reached the end of the trail and was very, very glad to see
that the pangas would pick us up there so that we did not have to
walk back! Getting into the panga from the rocks with the sea being
rather rough was a trial but somehow I made it.
Back at the Fragata some of the
others went snorkeling off the platform at the back of the boat but
we decided to get quick showers before everyone else so that we
would have a bit of hot water – good decision!
Jim decided this morning to continue
to give his arm a break from wearing the Relief Band since we were
going to be ashore for part of the day. He carried it in his pocket,
just in case he needed it. Back on the boat he continued without it,
eating lunch and even managing when we moved the Fragata to another
area! The sea has been unusually calm but for him this is amazing!
We steamed for 12 hours beginning
about 6:30 p.m. to Genovesa Island.
Oct. 8: Our 12-hour steam was
amazingly smooth as we were going with the current and wind so it
did not hit us as hard as I thought it might. We both woke up
several times during the night but were able to get back to sleep
unlike the other times we steamed at night. The rough times were
when we were against the wind and currents.
Breakfast at 7 a.m. and into the
pangas by 7:45 to visit Genovesa Island. The pangas took us close up
to the sides of the cliffs so we could see the fur seals that were
Getting from the panga to the steps
that lead to the top of this island was a big stretch for me as
there was quite a swell and the panga was moving more than usual.
But I made it with help. There was a handrail along part of the
steps but some of these steps were quite steep.
These steps are named after his Royal
Highness Prince Philip who visited the island in the 1960's. The
climb up the stairs is fairly easy for those with good balance, and
a handrail helps make the journey more manageable.
The top of the island was covered in
leafless scrub. Many nests were on the ground as well as in these
bushes. The gulls and Nazca Boobies nest on the ground while the
Red-footed Boobies and Frigatebirds nest in the bushes. There were
chicks of varying ages all around, but it wasn’t noisy at all which
surprised me. I thought all the chicks would be noisily begging for
Continuing along the trail we saw
very small iguanas keeping warm in a pile and a huge number of
Eliot’s Storm Petrels flying. They nest in the cliffs rather than on
top of the 200 foot high island. There were also Warbler Finches and
Mockingbirds. In the distance where walking was restricted we
spotted a Short-eared Owl. They are diurnal and feed on the Storm
Petrels so this was the reason the petrels were on high alert. It
was a wonderful walk from the standpoint of what we saw as well as
the fact that the trail was so level and rockless that I did not
even need my staff! Coming back down the stairs to the pangas was
another story however! Karel was right in front of me and graciously
offered me his hand when I needed it as Jim was at the back of the
Back at the Fragata we had some time
on board. Jim told me he had made the Prince Phillip’s Step trip
without the Relief Band. He wore it during the night as we were
steaming but decided to try the trip ashore without it. He thinks
that by wearing it constantly as he has done, that he has built up a
bit of tolerance to the movement of the boat. He does not feel like
“dancing a jig” but the band has made it possible for him to
participate and enjoy the trip and able to eat meals. Today he was
even able to read a little in one of the field guides! This band has
been one of the best investments we have ever made.
At 1:30 p.m. we had a wet landing
going ashore at Darwin Bay. The sea was calm so we didn’t get wet
but the coral beach gave us all a case of the “ouches.” The beach
has only been there 78 years, according to Ivan. An earthquake
occurred and caused a collapse on one side of the island and a
lifting up on the other side. There were nesting gulls, boobies and
frigate birds in the mangrove bushes near the beach. Sea lions
littered the shore as usual and I never get enough of the mothers
We took a trail that began as a sandy
path and quickly turned into lava boulders – so what else is new? On
this hike, we saw the Cactus Finch as well as a Yellow-crowned Night
Heron. Looking back at the boats in the bay as we hiked was
wonderful. The water was clear blue, the sky was a different blue
with puffy white clouds and the white boats completed this idyllic
Tomorrow is our last full day and I
never thought I’d be sad to leave. It has been a hard trip for us in
some ways but a very interesting and rewarding one as well.