Day 15 - Sat June 2, 2007 – San Christobel – Bob: 162, Kathy: 231

The first order of business today was for me to take some more pictures of the inside of the boat so I could show just exactly how it looked.

Today we were at the island of San Christobel, which is one of the inhabited islands. It was strange to see other boats in the harbor. Looking around, I noticed a fishing boat. The odd thing was that there was a large group of pelicans following the boat. Every time he'd move, the flock of pelicans would be chasing him. It was actually humorous to watch.

We took the panga to the island,

boarded a circa 1968 tour bus and headed for the highlands. After an uncomfortable forty-five minute drive, we got to another interpretation center and another tortoise sanctuary.

The biggest difference between this one and the other is that the tortoises are not caged. They are kept within the compound, but free to roam anywhere they want to in the park. We saw several of them and took lots of photos. The tortoises were very active at this sanctuary, walking all over the place.

There were odd flowers there, but I don't know much about flowers.

There was a cool three-dimensional map of the islands to show perspective, and another map to show which animals resided on which island.

Like the previous tortoise sanctuary, they had several cages where the caretakers were raising and protecting dozens of baby tortoises. They were really cute.

After everyone in my group had pretty much left, Mary Lou and I were still at the cages watching the babies when one of them got into a small disagreement with another. The result is that the baby tortoise got flipped upside down and was floundering, trying to figure out how to right itself.

Fascinated, I watched while the baby squirmed, wiggled and clawed helplessly. I was convinced it needed human intervention. Much to my surprise, after several minutes, the baby tortoise did manage to flip itself back upright again, but it was a fascinating struggle.

By that time, I had no idea where the rest of our group had gone, including Kathy. Mary Lou and I walked down the path the others had taken, skipping all branches in the path until we had gone a very long way. I was concerned that they had taken a turn we did not, but after a while, we eventually found the rest of the group.

I photographed one last tortoise that was sitting by the fence near our bus.

We took the same uncomfortable bus back down the hill into town again and took the Zodiac back to the Flamingo.

We sailed around, heading for a particular sandy beach. Kathy and I were bored, so we decided to visit the ship's captain. It was a tiny room with good visibility and lots of instruments: radar, sonar and GPS. We were told earlier that driving the boat it pretty easy because they program waypoints into the GPS and they just have to steer from point to point.

Much to my surprise, he let Kathy drive the boat for about twenty minutes. It was pretty cool.

She gave up the wheel, however, when we arrived at the beach and the boat needed to be parked.

After we were parked, we took the Zodiac to the beach and went snorkeling again. As usual, the beach was crowded with sea lions

and I took turns taking photos of some of our group with the sea lions.

I also asked Mary Lou to take our photo with the sea lions.

Of course, Mary Lou wanted us to act silly and do a shot of us looking back as we walked along the beach.

This time was pretty boring because there wasn't much to see. On top of it, my face mask was crushing my face and my snorkel was leaking salt water into it. Finally I gave up and just started swimming. The nice thing was that there was a small colony of sea lions on the beach and several of them were swimming with us. It was quite fun having them darting all around us, playing happily.

Some were even body-surfing.

After we finished snorkeling, our guide took another group photo.

We went back to the boat, we set sail for a big beautiful rock that looked like a sleeping lion, or so they said. It didn't look like a lion to me, but someone said that it did when viewed from the other back side.

I wanted to photograph and look at the rock, but Kathy kept wanting me to turn around so she could take my picture. Oh well.

We were supposed to sail around the rock, but suddenly someone spotted a pair of whales swimming nearby. It looked like a mother and a baby from what we could tell.

We followed them for a long time in the boat and everyone was just enthralled with them. They came pretty close to the boat. I don't know what kind of whales they were. Someone called them “Bryte” whales, and even spelled it out, but I've never heard of that kind. Maybe they meant Right whales. I just know they were pretty big, and by that I mean that there was a long distance between their back when it appeared on the surface of the ocean and when their dorsal fin appeared. I never saw a tail.

By then it was sunset,

and we had to get our nightly briefing followed by dinner. I got a sunset photo of one of the couples on the boat.

Instead of the usual meeting, we had a special ceremony where all the members of the crew came in and thanked us for being their guest.

For tonight, our guide, Paul, created a photo slide-show on his computer and played it on the ship's television for us to see. It was very fun. So that's why he needed those photos copied off!

Afterward, we gave a special thanks to Luis, who always served us meals and drinks at every meal.

Tomorrow we leave the boat, so tonight we're organizing and packing our luggage. Sigh.