Española

We began our days adventures on and around Española by landing on a small cement jetty and walking past dozens of marine iguanas just waking up…

…as well as these bright sally lightfoot crabs who were already very active.

Our first obstacle was a crowd of marine iguanas and a mother sea lion and her wee pup (black triangle behind mom). The iguanas weren’t warm yet, and so still congregated as they had been through the night to share warmth. In truth, they are not social creatures.

Our walk took us to a cliff-side overlook with wheeling birds of several species, and crashing waves.

Blue-footed boobies on the ground and a tropicbird showing off its long tail in the air.

Our guide, Sofia, stopped us frequently to point out something or to discuss evolution, vegetation, geology, inter-island variation, and the like.

I particularly enjoyed the plumes of water of the breaking waves.

Blue-footed booby parent with two chicks.

Here, a pair of Galapagos albatrosses (Phoebastria irrorata) are desultorily attempting courting. They split up soon after.

Some places the vegetation was very dense. This is not dead, merely leafless in the dry season.

The marine iguanas festooned the rocks and sand above the water line…only a few were warm enough to be down in the water or by it feeding. The red patches remain on the females, but are fading as the mating season has ended.

Returning to the jetty, we watched this sea lion mom, the one we saw by the path earlier, moving the pup up from the water line, as the tide was coming in. It was squeaking some from being grabbed and dropped, although the mom was careful enough.

For lunch we were honored to have ceviche of pez brujo, or scorpionfish. It was the appetizer of an Ecuadorian meal that was spectacularly yummy. We had timbalitos for breakfast, a sweetened maize dough wrapped in banana leaves and steamed as you would tamales. The main protein dish was a choice of a roasted pork or a cazuela (bowl) of mixed seafood in a mashed green plantain soup to make a stew.

Here’s the ceviche. Phenomenal depth of flavor in the broth. Oh, and dessert was a scoop of blackberry ice cream, and a scoop of subtle mint ice cream, with a little hard sweet biscuit. Yummy, that Ecuadoran food!

After lunch, we had a bit of unstructured time, then met at three ready to load the pangas for another snorkeling expedition along a rocky cliff, so we could look down and at the wall, or cliff face below water. I saw many kinds of fish, one turtle on the bottom, and several sea lions came and played with us and around us: incredible. No photos. The we rebounded and changed into dry clothing to stroll this beach on our own. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the Galápagos. It certainly was beautiful.

That’s the Grace offshore. This sea lion was playing in the water when we spotted it, then we followed it as it carefully moved along the beach, on and on until I lost sight of it. I think it had been sleeping and its group had moved on, leaving him/her alone. It stayed among the breaking waves, scooting along in the surf over the sand and sometimes going far enough out to swim a short distance, then returning to the surf-breaking area. My theory is that out farther was too dangerous, a lone sea lion would be quite the mean for a roaming shark. I silently wished her/him luck in finding safety.

One more food shot. The extremely talented chef, Alejandro, and I have had several chats about my low-glycemic index diet, and he has been kind enough to make small alterations in the servings/dishes for me. He’s a young guy and oh so creative. This is a salmon taco appetizer, which he put on a lettuce leaf for me, rather than a traditional tortilla. He also put the red bean paste on the side as an option. It had the creamiest guacamole I’ve ever had.

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