(Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabella, Galapagos)
Our allotted 20 days are coming to a close, our stay in the Galapagos is ending whether we like it or not. A sad, but true fact.
In preparation for our upcoming big crossing, we made another trip to Silvio’s farm for provisions yesterday. As I said before this is an experience not to be missed. It’s grocery shopping at its finest. Ask for some yuca (a potato like root vegetable) and watch as Silvio uproots a six-foot tree about an inch round, skilfully hacks off the long tuberous roots, and hands them over for your approval. Same goes for ginger, though on a much smaller scale. Papaya involves a homemade tool on the end of a very long pole paired with someone prepared to catch the falling fruit at the base of the sky-high tree. Same again goes for the green and spiny, sweet and delicious, soursop fruit. And bananas? Banana harvesting is a sight to be seen. Did you know a banana tree is good for only one stalk? Once that stalk is ready the entire tree is felled. All accomplished in mere seconds by Silvio and his expert machete. Finally, I’ve never been to a grocery store that chops up and serves watermelon fresh from the field while simultaneously adding up your purchases to an embarrassingly low price.
Speaking of returning places for a second time, Greg made the dinghy trip over to Barrahona again today. This time he was accompanied by Matt’s newly arrived friend Loren, and our taxi driver from yesterday. Our taxi driver was a young local who immediately took to Greg once the universally acknowledged word “surf” was uttered. Though they didn’t speak the same language, the young guy was extremely eager to tag along, and another man date was scheduled. When Greg picked him up this morning at the dock, his older brother was dropping him off and he sure had a story to tell. A surfer himself, the older brother had been attacked by a shark in 2003 at the very beach break Greg and I surfed multiple times. The meat of his right leg, from the knee down, was simply gone. A scary reminder that surfing isn’t all sunshine and barrels.
The boys returned from their morning adventure completely dry. No one so much as put a toe in the water. They had spotted no less than five sharks as they scanned the breaks.
Scary wildlife aside, in our remaining days we soaked up as much of the friendly type as we could. A nightly routine for us, formed early in our visit, was to put the underwater light in and watch the resulting show. At first, schools of little fish would be attracted by the mesmerizing glow, and from there, it was a free for all. Sea lions would dart in from every direction trying to outsmart their prey. They’d hang upside-down on the underside of the stairs waiting for their prey to slip up, or simply grab the light stick itself. For all the zipping, zigging, and zagging they did, they seemed to enjoy the chase more than the reward. On more than one occasion the actual catching of the fish was followed by a round of coughing and hacking. I guess their mothers never taught them to chew before they swallowed.
Other players in the night-time light-show included packs of little white tip reef sharks. Scarcely longer than 18 inches these gangsters showed up in numbers. They’d circle the light at lower depths casting mini, killer shadows. Through their patient, stalking ways they’d rarely surface until the night wore on and they’d became more desperate.
Finally to mix it up a little, one night when were watching the show, popcorn in hand, two huge pelicans came diving in from above. They bobbed on the outskirts of light ring making for an interesting dynamic between sea and sky. The sea lions seemed indifferent to the birds, but the sharks liked to nip at their feet.
With our fuel tanks full, our cupboards stocked, and the weather looking in our favour; we finally have to say goodbye to the incredible, and memorable, Galapagos Islands. Not tomorrow though, because tomorrow’s Friday and no sailor in their right mind leaves for a passage on a Friday. We’ll stick around one more day and reluctantly lift our anchor on Saturday.