Fresh local coffee steaming from the french press signals the start of another day here in the Galapagos. P-Kiddy forces himself on me demanding his morning chow so I oblige. I look across the harbor at “Cannons” for signs of a swell and shake the morning funk off. The temperature here is just about perfect. For the first time since Virginia, I’m spending the night under covers. Mother Nature has put the thermostat in the right spot here and we’re all enjoying a change from the tropical heat.
The dogs of the sea have made our transom their nap-time destination and lounge all day everyday. Those loudmouth, blubber-butts don’t aspire to much more than avoiding an imminent shark attack, so they enjoy the relative shelter the Natural Mystic provides. Our guard-cat does his best to repel them but he doesn’t make a very effective “bouncer”. After a few guttural moans from the sea lion, Skidz tucked his bushy tail and ran for the safety of his food dish. Occasionally they join us in the water for some playtime. Coming at you full speed, their cute faces dodge past by mere inches as they display their aquatic prowess.
We tempt fate every evening splashing around in shark-laden waters. The fast-setting, equatorial sun sits low in the sky obscuring our human shape. Our diffused silhouettes look a bit like a favorite snack of our toothy adversary but we endure. The surf is consistent and there are several breaks to choose from here on San Christobal. The water temp is frigid and wetsuits are donned for the first time since November in Rhode Island. I cope without one while floating above volcanic rock filming with the underwater housing. I don’t feel the stinging bite from the winds while I’m submerged so I get by just fine. I still prefer to shoot from the dingy but, as Kyber described, that sometimes leads to near disaster. It’s quite easy to loose track of a monster set barreling down on me while staring through a viewfinder. So when my peripheral vision picks up a massive wave lurching toward me, threatening to flip the Red Rocket, I have to make haste. When I’m not risking the destruction of the tender and my camera gear, I’m enjoying the wildlife. The other day I witnessed a huge school of dolphins performing synchronized aerial acrobatics 12 feet from the surface of the water. Recently we took a cab ride to the other side of the island to visit with some of the island old timers.
The islands oldest native population carry their shelter on their backs. Tortoises get along the same way they did back when these islands were discovered; slowly. I guess they have to deal with more poorly dressed, sunburned tourists than before but flash photography is far less imposing than Darwin was. Apparently the Father of Evolution’s approach to field study was much like Dizzy’s wooing of P-Kiddy; molestation. Yeah, no joke, he used to ride the tortoises like a mule. Here’s what he said in his Journal of Researches: ” I frequently got on their backs, and then giving a few raps on the hinder part of their shells, they would rise up and walk away”. That would’ve ruffled the feathers of PETA had they been around then. He didn’t reserve his torturous ways for the tortoises only.
While conducting more “field research” Charles tormented the iguanas like a child with no supervision. He pulled their tales and as he unapologetically said; “threw one several times as far as I could, into a deep pool left by the retiring tide”. It sounds like Chuck had some pent up frustration accrued from his voyage aboard the Beagle.
On these volcanic islands full of unique diversity, the Natural Mystic crew is adapting well. Our outward appearance is evolving to suite our needs for protection. Kyber and I are deep in the trenches of a beard battle as we fight for the rights to the scruffiest face. He has a several day head-start but my facial-fro is gaining momentum. After the sun is down we head to the chicken cart for a huge 4 dollar dinner. Our crew gladly alternates the role of anchor watch staying aboard while the others refuel. We’ve run into more familiar faces from the cruiser community here. Our friends from Amazing, (the monohull we transited the canal with) showed up here two days ago. There seems to be an abundance of volunteers here. They’re students usually, that come here to trade college credits for a few weeks of slavery. They spend their time working with the farmers toiling in the fields and eradicating evasive, non-indigenous flora. Anyway, there seems to be a steady supply of fresh, free workers for the locals to exploit. Speaking of exploits, the other day we were visited by the 15 year old Aqua-Pimp. A water taxi showed up to our boat before noon with 3 not-so-hot girls and an exuberant kid offering us their services. “Ummm… no thanks and here’s a tip kid; with those girls, you should operate your business under the cover of darkness.”
When we’re not out trolling the waters with our surf boards, riding tortoises or chucking around the iguanas we like to get up in the hills to explore El Junco. After hiking through a cloud layer, we summited to view the islands only fresh water lake. The moist micro-climate up there is a big change from the arid air in the harbor.