We arrived in the early dawn and, before breakfast, loaded up and landed at the foot of a large cinder cone, and climbed a strenuous stairway up the summit, perhaps 500 feet above sea level, with striking views down to Pinnacle Rock and Sullivan Bay, with Santiago Is. in the background. The volcanic artifacts on the way up are old but exceptionally well-preserved, including spatter cones, pahoehoe ropes and coarse cinders.
Unfortunately, I developed a serious case of turistas while up on the summit, which detracted from the experience.
After breakfast, we motored along a bit of the rocky shore, spotting Galapagos Penguins. As always, the low light they prefer and the lurching of the panga made photography very difficult. We landed on the north beach, and walked across a narrow isthmus of sand dunes to the south beach. We were greeted by two adults and a sub-adult Galapagos Hawk, who were massively disinterested and undisturbed by a dozen photographers.
We walked the length of the south beach, spotting American Oystercatchers, Brown Noddy, Lava Gulls and a few others. The weather deteriorated all day, moving from the mostly clear of dawn up on the summit of the cinder cone to low grey overcast by late afternoon.
There were many Green Sea Turtle nests and fresh tracks down to low tide. At the far end, furthest from the trail across the isthmus, there was the largest concentration of Sally Lightfoot crabs I'd seen in the islands. If there were marine iguanas, they were being very careful around all of the hawks.
After walking the south beach, we crossed back over to the north beach and snorkeled in Sullivan Bay. I paddled around Pinnacle Rock and some of the rocks that had tumbled from the headland of which Pinnacle Rock is a part. I had a last, brief dance with a sea lion, but there were a lot of people - perhaps 4-5 boats - snorkeling and the fish and larger animals were a bit spooky.
I wasn't a hundred percent so left the water after about half an hour and had a nice listen with an immensely obese woman from another ship. She was heavy enough that she was effectively disabled, and two crew had to help her down into the surf and into the vessel's panga. She sat by herself on one side, with six passengers on the other side, and the panga still listed badly.
The island is only a few severe storms away from being divided in two. The low ridge of sand dunes is about twenty feet above sea level, and exposed between the cinder cone to the left and the headland to the right.
I couldn't finish lunch and missed the afternoon snorkel and a panga ride through a mangrove lagoon. So there's a missing stop in here.
By early evening I was feeling half human and attended the crew's farewell party for us. Walter, the chef, had pulled out all the stops and turned out a magnificent banquet. The crew of your boat makes a terrific difference, and we were exceptionally lucky with ours.
Tomorrow our trip ends. I think the sadness is mutual.
Pinnacle Rock and Sullivan Bay, with Santiago Island behind; the Samba is visible left center
Copyright © 2002 Jim & Nancy DeWitt
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