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Friday, June 25, 2010

Floreana. Santa Maria. Whatever.

Many of the islands have more than one name. This was one of them, which we reached after another overnight cruise.

We went for a hike at 5:45 AM, before breakfast, on the off chance we might see sea tortoises leaving the beach. Alas, no such luck. We hiked clear across the island and back, though, all of us, including Joyce. We did see some other things. We saw endemic flamingos, which are hard to find, especially this time of year. When we were in Africa, we saw thousands, all in one place, like that airplane scene in Out of Africa. Here we saw four.

Also, in the Antarctic, we saw what seemed like millions of penguins. Here we saw six, and we're not sure it wasn't the same three, over and over. On the other hand, here we saw hundreds of sea lions on every island. In the Antarctic, we saw three on three separate occasions. So there you go.

On this island, we also heard a long, boring story about attempts by crazy people to colonize it. They all failed or died or disappeared. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, "Heigh ho."

When we got back to the boat, we had a real American breakfast with all the trimmings for a change. It was a nice surprise.

Later the same day, same island. at another wet landing, we saw Post Office Bay, an informal historic post office begun by whalers where travelers drop off and collect mail and hand-deliver it to total strangers they happen to live near. We have five and plan to take some day trips as excuses for eating out. We didn't leave any. We don't know anybody. Several of our companions, however, sent cards to themselves just to see what would happen.

Then they snorkeled and we swam a lot. It was yet another really beautiful beach with warm, calm water.

If you just sort of hung in the water, all kinds of fish would swim by, and boobies and frigate birds were everywhere, diving for food. It was just fun to float around and watch.

It was here that my cold and sore throat symptoms began to manifest themselves, but I still went on every landing, kept on hiking and kept on swimming. I had no intentions of ever coming back, so I just doped myself to the gills and kept going. If I wasn't ashore or eating, I was in bed, propped up in my corner against a tower of life preservers, rolled-up blankets, extra sweatshirts and pillows. And every day the steward thoughtfully dismantled the entire thing. We learned in a big hurry that they would fold anything they found out in the cabin. Anything. Let your imagination be your guide.

Meanwhile, the battle of the sluts continued on land and at sea. I'm sure they looked at us as fat, stupid, old women , but we amused ourselves with what their lives will be like when they ruin themselves with children. Karma is a real bitch. Now, to be fair, their male traveling companions were sullen, greasy and rude; in other words, hardly any more appealing. But the men were far less dramatic. The lot of them had been together for a while by the time we met up, so perhaps they were just exhausted. Poor things.

There's room here for a little snorkeling commentary. I passed on doing it anymore because it just wasn't that enjoyable, and the cold I caught would have made it impossible anyway. But watching the others do it; especially, prepare to do it, was informative. There's a lot of equipment. You obviously need a mask and snorkle and fins. Many of them, especially the women, wore wet suits. They were always squealing about how cold the water was. Really? If you say so. Seems there's a use for the fat layers we carry around, then. They also help you float. Many of them said they also needed the suits for sun protection on their backs. We wore our worst t-shirts for all landings, and I left mine behind when we disembarked. It was a wreck. But a lot easier to get in and out of than a wet suit. And then there was crap to spray in your mask, and the underwater cameras. Putting all this stuff on takes lots of time and tugging and attaching, and then you have to laboriously swim with it all on to the reef du jour. I suppose maybe all this gear and carrying on gives the sport some sort of cache, but I'll stick to swimming and kayaking.

Next: Puerto Ayora and the twin farmacias!

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