Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Day 5 (27 June 2017) – Buccaneer’s Cove & Egas Bay, Galapagos Islands - Adventures by Disney Ecuador and Galapagos Islands Tour (23 Jun – 2 July 2017)

The sun came up right around 6 am but I had already woken up at around 5:30 am. I finally gave up and got out of bed having slept like a rock. The softer mattresses and cool temperature in the room really made for the best night’s sleep so far on this trip. I got dressed and went to the library to try out the coffee machine which grinds the beans for you. I asked it to make coffee but ended up getting a cappuccino for some reason which was still good, and then took my coffee up to the top deck and watched as we pulled into Buccaneer’s Cove. I updated my blog a bit, uploaded some pictures to Facebook (the satellite internet signal was pretty good up on the top deck) and then met up with Seth and Rhys for some breakfast at around 7:30 am. Just before we headed down to breakfast, Rhys noticed a pretty rainbow outside and he and Seth went upstairs to get a picture of it which turned out really nice.

We had missed the morning breakfast buffet rush which made for a more relaxed meal. It was a pretty typical breakfast buffet: eggs, sausage, breads, salmon lox, cheeses, oatmeal, etc.

At 8:45, we were called by groups to meet near the jacuzzis to get our snorkel gear. We had already brought our own mask and snorkel. Each person was assigned a mesh bag with their cabin number on it. We got fitted for fins and then went downstairs to try on the wet suits which did fit pretty snugly. At 9:30, we met in the library and had all ABD adventurers in our panga for our snorkeling expedition along with Lauren. Our guide was Mauricio. The first part of our expedition was just a panga ride around the front of Buccaneer’s Cove where we finally got to see some Blue Footed Boobies and seals.

They took us around the corner to another area where all the snorkelers would be and we got our gear ready then dropped into the water which was about 70 degrees F. It was pretty cold to me but the wet suits definitely helped. We had also bought some special shirts and a buff at the gift shop that morning to wear. We stayed in groups together – usually by family. One of my greatest fears with deep sea snorkeling is getting lost or wandering too far from the ship. Since Seth, Rhys, and I were a group and had to swim together, this made me feel a lot better. All I had to do was keep my head down and follow Seth around.

The fish were absolutely amazing – the most fish I have ever seen snorkeling. The water was beautifully clear. Rhys got to see a sea lion swim right by him but it was so fast that he didn’t get a picture or video. I had almost decided to skip this excursion because I’m not a strong swimmer and the water just scares me (especially after seeing the sharks last night) but I’m glad that I did it anyways. (And without a PFD either). We swam around for quite a while and were the last to get back on the panga. They had demonstrated to us at the briefing how to get off and then back on the panga. You removed your fins and there’s actually a ladder to climb up to get back into the panga. Thanks goodness it wasn’t having to drag yourself over the side into the boat. Our naturalist guide made a joke about how they used to haul people over the side onto the panga and developed a few hernias doing that.

 We headed back to the ship and found out that one of the boys in another family had a run in with a jellyfish. It had wrapped its tentacles around his left arm and it was starting to get red and puffy in spots. He said it was painful at first but the guide had some vinegar handy which, he said, made it stop stinging almost immediately.

When we returned to the ship, we were given very specific instructions of how to rinse off our suits, bags, and gear with hoses and large cans of water as well as where to hang everything – wet suits by cabin number downstairs and our mesh bags on the 2nd level for the cabins in the 200 range. We would be collecting and using the same equipment each day.

We rinsed off a bit and then headed to lunch which was a buffet again down in the dining room. Afterwards, we had some time while the kids did an activity with banana splits and the adults had the chance to listen to a lecture on photography. I was already a bit tired but avoided taking a nap as that really messes with my sleep pattern at night. I caught up a bit on my blog then got things ready for our afternoon excursion at 2:30 pm which would the beach snorkel and hike of Egas Bay from the black sand beach.

Fortunately, the ship has a couple of dryers and most people were very polite about their use – sharing the dryers and using low settings for our swim wear. We ended up using these dryers a lot which was great to get our wet stuff ready for the next excursion.

Since we were going hiking this time over lava, I brought a pair of socks and some more sturdy shoes. Seth had also brought along his tennis shoes – these were wise choices for this particular hike and I would recommend everyone bringing more than just flip flops or flimsy sandals.

We picked up our snorkeling gear again and headed out on the pangas doing a wet landing onto the blackest sand I’ve ever seen. We snorkeled for a while and I think the fish we saw this time were even bigger than the ones we had seen in the morning. They were everywhere and it was really cool to swim through the different currents which were cold then warm then cold again. We even saw a very large stingray laying at the bottom which about 25-30 feet away. We didn’t get to see any turtles or sea lions this time.

We then got ready for the hike portion of the excursion. It’s remarkable how well things run on each of these excursions – there was no difficulty getting everyone organized and allowing time to prepare for each transition. We shed our snorkeling gear and just left everything on the beach as we headed out on our hike. We were divided into our animal groups again – with Adventurers being in the Dolphin and Frigate groups so our 2 groups stuck together for the entire hike.

We paused for some family photos by the trail head. As we hiked through some trees where Indi pointed out the birds and we saw a ton of lizards, some interesting plants and trees – it was actually a little boring but when we got to the lava fields, things got very interesting very fast. We soon saw a ton of sea lions just hanging out on the lava. They let us hop around on the lava and going right up to the water edge to see the wildlife who were completely unphased at how close we were getting. The rule set by the naturalist guides was to allow at least 6 feet from the animals. Some of the sea lions even seemed to be showing off for us swimming around and jumping out of the water.

There were crabs, iguanas, birds, and lizards everywhere and because the iguanas just sat there motionless and blended in with the color of the lava, they were sometimes hard to spot until you were right on top of them. On of our Adventurers walking over towards Seth didn’t notice the iguana on the group and nearly jumped into Seth’s arms as the iguana scurried away to avoid being stepped on. There was a male sea lion who was busy yelling at and chasing away 2 other young male sea lions – it was like watching a Sea Lion soap opera. We had been also warned at the first briefing that one of the most dangerous animals that we would be seeing was the male sea lion because they do bite. As the dominant sea lion chased the other 2 sea lions away and the females lay on the lava, he suddenly started moving towards us and got close enough that I was actually backing away.

marine iguana just blending in
At this point, we received our next ABD pin from our guides and made our way back to the beach where we gathered up our things and headed back to the ship on the panga.

It felt good to rinse all the black sand and sea water off. The schedule was getting very familiar at this point – clean up, head to the bar, interact with other guests, get the briefing for the next day, then head to dinner. Each evening they hold a cocktail party providing finger foods and drinks. Tonight’s theme was sashimi which was delicious but the wasabi was not very strong at all. Rhys enjoyed a pina colada drink. The boat was definitely rocking a bit more this evening. We got a geology lesson and then a briefing for Rabid Island where we would be seeing a red sand colored beach. We were given our different options and decided that we would be doing the deep sea snorkeling again in the morning and the long hike (up 300+ stair steps) in the afternoon.

We had dinner with Gordon and Cindy again along with their 3 boys. Their youngest barely hung on through dinner nodding off now and again. We enjoyed another bottle of wine with them and I’m so glad to have found out about air drop as I was able to pull pictures off both Rhys’ and Seth’s phones to mine. My phone doesn’t seem to want to take pictures in the water even though I have a waterproof case for it.

Dinner was really good – a shrimp caesar salad, ecuadorian soup (but it was full of cilantro so I skipped it), beef in a red wine sauce – very tender, followed by macaroons for dessert. We were some of the last to finish but during dinner, Robby had come by and let us know that we should head up to the top deck for the star gazing activity. I was so tired at this point but we went upstairs anyway since it was such a clear night and Seth really wanted to see the Southern Cross again. It was chilly upstairs so I grabbed a jacket on the way up there and we did enjoy seeing some beautiful stars including the Milky Way and both the northern and southern hemisphere stars at the same time. It was pretty amazing. We headed immediately off the bed at this point after an amazing but very tiring day.

Next post:  Day 6, 28 June 2017 - Rabida Island, Bartolome Island, Galapagos 

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