Day 27: Caught between a Rock and a Hard Place
While half the group went off on a snorkeling expedition this morning, the rest of us had a relatively later start to the day. After munching on some delicious bread, eggs, and granola, we headed off on our trek toward the tortoise breeding ground. Armed with our cameras and sound kits, we first walked through the beach in hopes of capturing some good material for our upcoming Nature as Metaphor video projects. I personally didn’t have a topic, but I was hoping to be inspired (and I was). No matter how many times we’ve seen it so far, it’s always a delight staring into the clear blue gem that is the Pacific Ocean. I’m an especially big fan of the contrast of the black rocks and the white foam that forms whenever the waves crash down. A little past the beach, we crossed a bridge spanning a flamingo-filled pond. As someone who has never heard flamingos speak to each other, it was very interesting hearing their low-pitched squawks as they played around with each other.
After some more walking through luscious green foliage, we arrived at the tortoise breeding ground, a place focused on the conservation efforts of tortoises. The areas were sectioned based on stage of life, and it was incredibly interesting to observe the different behavioral patterns between the infants, juveniles, and older tortoises, especially the speed at which they moved. It was obvious the younger tortoises had a lot more energy in them to sprightly move around, whereas the older tortoises were more sedentary. We spent some time videotaping, sound recording, and sketching the tortoises, gathering some high quality material for our projects before heading back along the beach.
At approximately three o’clock in the afternoon, we journeyed out again, this time for a kayaking/snorkeling adventure. Kayaking in the open ocean seemed a daunting, yet thrilling, task and the challenge was met by us all with open arms. Once we got to the beach, we met our guide, paired up (shoutout to Oliva A., the “dream” to my “team”), and excitedly pulled our kayaks toward the water.
I had been a little afraid beforehand that the water would be too rough and I’d be nauseous, but luckily, the waves seemed fairly gentle and everyone seemed fine. We paddled for a bit, passing spotting rays, pelicans, and even Galapagos penguins, none of which are pictured here due to the wet nature of this excursion (but trust me; the penguins were rad). It was really breathtaking to be surrounded by so many wonderful animals in the middle of such a picturesque ocean.
Eventually, we encountered a channel that required precise timing to travel through, due to the rise and fall of the waves. Our guide instructed us that, on his signal, we should paddle as fast as we could, one at a time, to successfully cross through. As Olivia and I waited for our turn, we watched as the first kayak passed through the channel with ease. We watched again as the second kayak passed with seemingly no difficulty. Surely, we would be fine. Then came our turn. I was wrong. We were not fine. Olivia and I found the guide yelling for us to turn left. So, naturally, we did. Unfortunately, we did not turn at the right moment, and the tide receded, leaving us marooned on a giant rock. The guide kept yelling for us to move, but us being the inexperienced kayakers we were (keyword: were), all we could do was marvel at how “we are literally just stuck on this rock right now how do we even move?” If I didn’t believe in miracles before, let me tell you, I sure do now (props to Dream Team for being alive!). We somehow managed to get unstuck from the rock, and were promptly given a crash course in how to properly steer a kayak (evidently, I’d been doing it wrong the whole time. Oops). Fortunately, we learned from our mistakes and were able to cross the next set of rocks into our snorkeling spot unscathed. There, we spent some time in the water searching for and observing the different types of fish, turtles, and sharks (harmless, of course!), the perfect end to such an exciting day.