02 April 2010 | Galapagos
After taking a tour around the island and checking out the Charles Darwin Research Center, we spent a day surfing at Tortuga Bay. Unfortunately, the hotspot on the island had been shut down by the cops, but we ended up at an outdoor bar with a DJ that was projecting all the videos for each song played. The internet is not fast on these islands and he actually downloaded all the videos…it must have taken months, but Paunu got his request for TNT and the Spice Girls song in (he had both videos).
The next morning, Alex and I took a hike to Las Grietas which is a small canyon filled with brackish water (salt water from the ocean mixed with fresh water from the highlands). It was a ridiculously hot hike…the islands are pretty diverse, from beaches to forests, but this portion was like a desert. Thankfully, the water was cold. We snorkeled through the canyon and ended up having to swim through some underwater caves, but nothing too crazy. People sometimes see sharks, but we didn’t see any. The cliffs are around 40 feet high, so we climbed up and jumped in…the pictures are pretty cool.
Alex headed back to San Cristobal on the afternoon ferry to check on the boat, but I wanted to get some more practice in at Tortuga Bay so I spent another night. I headed out and had the entire beach to myself. After catching a few waves, I had a wave crash on me and somehow the fin on the board hit the top of my foot and sliced it open. Since I had seen sharks feeding not far away, I decided it best that I get out of the water as soon as possible. I headed back into town and met up with Paunu and his friend Tuomu on the island. Since I don’t have an EU passport, French Polynesian requires me to pay a bond that is equivalent to the price of a one way ticket back to the states ($2000). Tuomu has friends in the islands that can get bond exemptions, so I got the contacts for them. I jumped on the ferry the next day and headed back to San Cristobal with Paunu.
I was starting to look like Charles Manson, so I decided to take up Pauno´s offer to cut my hair (he´s been cutting hair since he was in the military and had to). On the way to the galapagos, Alex got hot one dayand attacked his head with pair of scissors. Pauno was able to fix it up with the clippers pretty well, so i wasn´t too worried. It seemed to be going pretty well, but then he started asking questions like ´has that hole always been there?´ and ´did i do that?´ We decided that rather than continue with the clippers, we´d wait for some scissors. I ended up with something that makes me look somewhere between one of the new kids on the block and Vanilla Ice…needless to say i´ve been wearing a tshirt like a doo rag for the past few days waiting for the rest of the haircut. It actually looks pretty funny and i think it gives me a bit more street cred with the other surfers.
Thursday morning, I had a call setup with some students at the Birchwood Charter School and we were actually able to get a fast enough connection to video chat. The kids had some great questions and it was fun talking with them…we´re planning to setup another call once I can find a connection in the marquesas. After that, I headed to Loberia which is a great break on the island and it was supposed to have huge waves. I was planning on getting some shots of Paunu surfing, but it was even a bit to big for him, so I ended up taking about 50 shots of crabs and birds…but did get some good ones. We’d been spoiled for two nights in air conditioning and real beds, but it was nice to get back on the boat. We setup a dive to the famous Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) for Friday. It’s a tall, picturesque rocky island just off Cristobal that actually has a gap in between the rocks that boats could pass through. Hammerhead sharks are often seen on the dives.
We woke up early and cruised out to the rock for two of the best dives that I’ve been on. On the first dive, we saw two whitetip sharks and on the second dive two gigantic blacktip sharks. I guess I could claim to have seen a hammerhead, but I only saw the tail, so even though the guide said it was a hammerhead, I didn’t see the crazy shaped head that makes it so unique. We also saw some huge moray eels, an octopus, sea turtles, sea lions, and a ton of other fish. Paunu and Alex actually had a sea lion playing with them for a few minutes and swimming right up to them and bit the our guides fin. On the way there, we saw the red breasted frigates and some blue footed boobies. The pictures will be posted soon. We spent the afternoon getting diesel and water for the big cross. We’re hoping to take off by Sunday. Tomorrow morning, there is a fresh produce market, so we’re going to hit that up and stock the boat up with some food.