We took off at a sprint to explore as much of San Cristobal as possible. On the first day, we woke early and hailed our water taxi. “Taxi, Taxi, Taxi,” spoken three times over VHF, Ch. 14 and within moments they arrive at our boat. The technique is impressive. They guide their nose toward the hull with some speed, and just before they ram into our boat, the taxi driver gives his two stroke, 50HP engine a pop into reverse and the taxi boat floats just centimeters from your hull. You step on as the taxi begins to float slightly backward, then prance with the motion of the ocean and taxi down the stairs and onto a bench situated on either side. The process is repeated at a small dock on shore, only you must tiptoe around and amongst sea lions lounging in your path. Get too close and they raise their head ever so slightly and yelp: “YAURUGGHP!”
First things, first: Breakfast. We wander into town in search of a breakfast nook that suits our tastes. We walk past the first row of restaurants, head left and see exactly what we are looking for. A door, slightly ajar with photos of breakfast food pasted to the outside, a staircase painted brightly with Galapagos animals, and a stream of locals moving in and out. We climb the stairs and find a little cafe with approximately 7 small tables, an open kitchen and a large glass doored refrigerator filled with beautiful fresh fruit. We have arrived. We order the continental breakfast with scrambled eggs, cheese toast, smoothie and coffee. We start with a banana smoothie, which was so delicious we decided to order a second passionfruit smoothie. When our coffee arrives, I peer down into it: “Is that coffee? It looks kind of weak.” Andrew follows my lead peering down, and sniffs. Just then, the friendly cafe owner pops by with a box of instant coffee to add to our hot water. We all have a laugh, and then the OddGodfreys enjoy their breakfast.
With bellies full and happy, we venture on. We have no real plan, other than to find a hike and take it. We head back beyond the beach we found the night before, and begin walking a dirt road which leads to a small footpath.
We follow our noses and find a small beach with black lava rocks. We don’t realize it at the time, but those rocks have eyes! We carry on, seeing nothing out of the ordinary.
We hike a footpath to find a monument to Mr. Darwin overlooking an ocean vista and a bay below. People were swimming off a little dock, so we decided to join them. Donning our snorkle gear next to a sea lion who sits in the thick of the action, we hop in to take a look.
The water is crisp and chilly, having ridden the current northward from Antarctica; instant refreshment after a hot, humid hike. Upon putting our goggles in the water, we see colorful fish large and small, and a beautiful giant sea turtle. The photo doesn't give it the appropriate scale, but this turtle is at least as big as my entire upper body.
Furry little seals and large sea lions bask in the sun on rocks, and when they get too hot, they float in the water bellies up.
One eyed me with condescension as she swam by, but her baby looked back and must have thought: “I challenge thee to a duel!” Because soon the small one swam over to me, practically tapped me on the shoulder and floated for a second. Then, it swam a bit in a circle around me, stopped and looked back. “Want to swim?” It seemed to say. Yes, I do. I activated my go-go-gadget-snorkle-flippers and swam in the same circle, mimicking the sea lion. The sea lion floated and watched me go, then swam downward, deeper in a spiral. He stopped down below and floated upward with his bubbles. Then, he stopped and looked at me. So, I took a deep breath, swam downward in the best spiral I could muster and floated up with my bubbles. It went on like this for as long as I could keep up. This experience is going amongst the highlights of my life. To this day, the most frequent reoccurring dream I have is that I can breathe underwater. To swim with a sea lion for a moment is to be the fish I dream I am.
After all this excitement, we stopped at an internet cafe and ordered two beers in the shade. The tables were filled with travelers here and there, and we started to make small talk. “How long are you here? Two weeks. Where are you from? Las Vegas. Etc.” Soon, we learn that the gentleman to our right, typing away on his mac, is also a full time traveler from Las Vegas. What are the chances? As he starts describing his travels and his blogged filled with landscape photos, that feeling of shock, awe and amazement comes over me. “Wait, what is your name?” I ask. “Joe DeHart” “Do you know Valerie DelGrosso?” I ask him. “Yes, I do!” He replies.
About the time Andrew and I were departing, our good friend Ms. Valerie DelGrosso sent me a link to Mr. Joe DeHart’s beautiful blog, suggesting that we connect as fellow travelers/bloggers. I browsed, reached out to say “hi” and that was the end of things. And now, I find myself randomly sitting next to the guy at an internet cafe in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. There are six billion people on this planet, which is over 30,000 miles round. The chances of this are so infinitesimally small my mind is blown. I know, I know, I’ve heard the rumor too that 10,000 monkeys with 10,000 typewriters would eventually write the Great American Novel, but honestly? I don’t believe that crap. Instead, I have come to the conclusion that Valerie DelGrosso weaves the fabric of the universe. Check out Joe’s blog, Life Elevated. He even dresses up like a dinosaur sometimes.
Joe provided us with an excellent restaurant recommendation, and so we headed over to the Disconsener Mariner (The Sleepy Sailor) for dinner of seafood, rice and lobster. Yum.
As the sun went down, we watched the seals and sea lions make themselves at home as though they are one of the crowd. As we headed to dinner, we found one snoozing on a park bench, and another just taking a stroll through town. Just one of the guys!