Monthly Archives: July 2016

Laguna Quilotoa

July 14
Laguna Quilotoa

Jorge picked us up promptly at 845 and we set out to pick up our guides and make the 2.5 hour drive to Laguna Quilotoa. Basically, the volcano collapsed 800 hundred years ago, leaving a deep crater now filled with a beautiful lake.

The drive passed through some colourful pastoral countryside alongside the Andes, with evidence of the local Kichwa people farming the land right up the hillsides. The area is relatively cold as the elevation is above 3000 metres. The Kichwa people wear red ponchos and felt fedoras, and the women wear skirts. Their main non-farming industry is textiles. Here and Otavalo are the main Indigenous textile areas.

We explored a shop of a painter, who expects to spend over six months on his current painting, which seemed detailed and very much folk art. There were also masks and drums. We are likely to have some sort of Ecuadorian instrument in our hand luggage.

Nearby Cotopaxi is an active volcano and is one of the most popular destinations in Ecuador but is above the 4700 metre snow line and requires acclimatization and real mountain gear for the climb. It has thrice lead to the destruction and rebuilding of the large Latacunga town in the nearby valley.

Next stop was the Quilotoa hike. It was cold and windy at the top parking area at 3900 metres, so we decided to buy alpaca llama sweaters for the boys to avoid shivering and whining on the descent. After we survived the ascent, Aubrey and Koren went back to explore the artisan area more fully and the surrounding shops and completed the family sweater set.

It was hard to stop taking pictures and actually start the 1.7 km descent, as the lake-filled crater is beautiful. The shoreline water is bright green from local minerals and then quickly darkens to the depths. Given the extremely steep path, it is not surprising locals believe the Laguna is bottomless. Geologists more specifically believe it is 250 metres deep, which is pretty much the same.

We slid and resisted falling down the sandy path to our lunch spot still a bit above the lake surface. It took about thirty minutes and was surprisingly only 300 metres down. We watched as many people huffed and puffed their way back up, or sat calmly on horses to ascend.

After a cheese empanada lunch, we began the ascent. Our guides thought it would take us 1.5 to 2 hours to get back to the top. The hike is extremely steep and tough footing in the sand of the path, so the prediction seemed about right. And in our defense, the elevation still makes breathing difficult with any exertion. As such, we plodded forward slow and steady. At times it was truly difficult to get one foot in front of the other. Erez, Zev, and Aubrey led the way, taking short breaks every four minutes or so to settle heart rates and rest legs. And shed clothing, all of which ended up in the pack Aubrey was carrying. We were only passed by one little girl and an old local man. Zev admittedly nearly collapsed twice, but we made it to the top in 47 minutes. Koren, Noam, and Teva took 100 steps between breaks and still only took 80 minutes to the top, perhaps spurred on by the dog following Noam most of the way up.
The drive home was uneventful but long. We arrived after dark and so dove into our leftover spaghetti. Our laundry was dry and so led to an important argument amongst two boys about socks. It seems everyone has had enough of long drives, so tomorrow we plan on spending the day doing more driving, getting on and off a tour bus of Quito…

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Mindo in the morning, Quito at Suppertime…

July 13

Yaku Quinde Lodge

The boys slept in later than usual, but Koren was up at 7:30, and started the day watching scores of hummingbirds hovering around the property. They were all shapes and sizes and colours. The sheer variety was dazzling.

After a huge bowl of fresh fruit and yogurt, we ate a traditional breakfast of Bolon de Verde filled with cheese. It is a fried green plantain ball with cheese in the middle, although we hear it can also have meat inside. It was delicious!

Then it was time to start our hike. Galindo, our guide, was on loan from his nearby home community to help get this Eco lodge off the ground. Their mandate is to provide a unique ecotourism experience, while preserving the primary growth forest. They have many big plans, and the family is still building and preparing for more tourists in the future. A few young men were actively painting metal roofs and their chainsaws were audible preparing the site even during our hike. They are targeting Ecuadorian nationals in particular, with natural swimming pools, a play area for the kids, a soccer field, volleyball court and a fishing pond. As a place where Ecuadorians can venture for a weekend getaway, the income thus prevents further reduction of the forest for income. The hikes and conservation will be more focused on foreign tourists.

One of the interesting things about travelling in a country where you are not proficient in the language is that you cannot be sure if you are truly understanding the information given. But perspective always affects perception and understanding. The Eco lodge plans at the edge of the primary forest (the two lane highway was visible far down below in the valley during parts of our hike) reminded us of some of the issues of cottage country back home in Ontario.

We hiked for about two hours, marvelling at all the species of trees, plants and flowers that make up the Cloud Forest. The scenery was truly magnificent. Galindo was a wealth of knowledge. The leaves of the plants were so large. The fern trees were massive compared to home. There are many different types of Palm. We saw trees traditionally used for building, leaves impervious to water and so used for roofing (replace after five years), and fibrous leaves ideal for weaving (including bracelets Galindo made for the kids). We did manage to see a beautiful Quetzal bird at the beginning, but our boys are way too loud for us to get a glimpse of much more wildlife. Plus the path was steep and muddy and thus impossible to look anywhere but at the path while walking. A toucan also visited our breakfast area, just before we arrived, but cleared out once it heard us coming.

After we worked up quite a sweat, we cooled off in the refreshing and very cool waterfall-fed pools and river. The boys had a great time paddling an inflatable raft and two inner tubes.

We finished off our time in Mindo with a delicious lunch (traditional soup followed by rice with fish, tomato and onion salad, lentils and potatoes), and then we signed the guest book. I believe we were the international guests to sign it. We then headed back for our 2.5 hour fast and windy road ascending from 1600 metres back to the 2800 metres of Quito.

While Aubrey hand washed our laundry, Koren went with the boys and the six grandkids of the owners who live in the building to play football at a local field for almost an hour. Once back home, they started new games of football and then “volleyball” (using the two clotheslines as the net) in their tiny concrete backyard. Once they tired out and darkness started, the kids came up to our apartment and had a Mario Kart tournament on 3DS.

We ended the day with pasta and Caesar Salad at home, and then sent the kids off to bed.

Tomorrow we hike to the Laguna Quilotoa.

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Mindo Cloud Forest

July 12

Now that we know our neighbourhood in Quito, it was easy finding some drinking water at the mini mercado in the morning. Last night, we visited the Hipermercado and stocked up on breakfast, so we were able to feast this morning.

We packed up again for a two day trip to the cloud forest. Along the way, we packed in a lot of adventures.

Our first stop was the mandatory tourist stop at a spot along the new satellite defined equator. Remarkably, the mathematically determined line is only 200 metres off and remains the official site. Only Erez managed to balance an egg on a nail on the equator. We learned about shadows (long and north far into the northern hemisphere, short and south in most of Ecuador, and absent at the Equinox at noon on the equator). We also learned how winds start at the equator, so hurricanes move north and go counter-clockwise, while cyclones only move south and rotate clockwise. But the toilet and bathtub drainage hemisphere theory is a myth.

An indigenous woman lived on the site in a handily constructed stone and mud hut, cool inside despite the blazing sun and impervious to earthquakes. Her 110 years are credited to her production and consumption of corn alcohol in her home. Somehow the smoke didn’t damage her lungs and instead waterproofed her home. The indigenous people of Ecuador are celebrated at the site as well. We learned about the penis fish of the Amazon in southern Ecuador (don’t pee in the water there or the urea attracts the dangerous fish) and about shrunken heads (restricted to powerful friends and enemies and requiring a special recipe). We also toured a home of one tribe. They consider anacondas in the home good luck and the one room hut sleeps twenty-four comfortably (kids of one family in one hammock and parents in another).

We next stopped at a butterfly breeding greenhouse, where we saw all four stages of butterfly life. Mostly we enjoyed walking among several different native species of butterfly and the boys basked in hosting butterflies on their hands.

After a plentiful local lunch of soup, fish and rice with lentils and potatoes, delicious juice, and strawberries with cream, we separated into two groups. Koren and Teva became learned in the ways of the cacao tree and its fruit. Apparently, we are going to experiment with chocolate balsamic vinegar at home next. The rest of us spent an hour zipping on ten different zip lines across a deep river valley of the cloud forest. It was thrilling speeding over and through the treetops high over the base of the valley. The three boys even did runs upside down as a bat, in a superman pose, and in a butterfly pose. The guides were and the boys had a lot of fun and the entire course was well prepared.

By late afternoon, we arrived at the eco lodge outside of Mindo. Yaku Quinde is a family farm encompassing primary rain forest, where the recent addition of tourism infrastructure (colourful hobbit-like dwellings, guided forest hikes and trails, waterfall swim areas, and a play area at the base of the valley for kids) will enable ongoing preservation of the Forest. We had an introductory tour before dinner outside by the fireplace.

If the kids can be quiet during our walks in the forest, we might actually see some birds. Although we did see two types of toucan in between zip lines. And hummingbirds at the feeder.

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Las Tunelas, Isabela Island

July 10

Las Tunelas

Although we could have slept in until 10, we were up just after 6. We could have snuck an activity in before our 11:15am pick up, but we sensed some travel fatigue and allowed the kids (and ourselves) to laze around for most of the morning. We ate breakfast fairly early and then read and rested for a couple of hours. Zev and Koren did manage to squeeze in a Bar Mitzvah lesson for the first time since we’ve been here. Doing the lesson on the balcony over the sound of the surf, next to the beach makes it all the more bearable for both of us.

There was a little bit of miscommunication when we arrived at the office regarding what was and wasn’t included on the tour, but we are getting used to our language barrier. We climbed into a high speed fishing boat with 7 tourists and 6 non tourists. It seems the underbooked tour meant some friends came along for the ride.

The fifty minute boat ride could have been the attraction: we got some great air with some of the wave action out in the open ocean. Even as we sped up the southern tip of the western coast of Isabela, we spied the occasional sea lion, sea tortoise, and even three massive manta rays. We had to take care to avoid striking them with the boat. Each in its way was just floating along in the ocean.

We boated through a labyrinth of lava hardened over the ocean and then eroded by wind and water until sections broke off. The result is a plethora of archways and underwater tunnels. In a different section of these calm water lava structures, we snorkelled around and saw fish, sea tortoises, white tipped sharks and a manta ray, as well as a sea horse! Teva decided the boat ride was more fun and spent the hour in the boat. He was supposed to be with the crew, but unbeknownst to us they ditched him to swim with the sharks! Aubrey forgot his contact lenses at the hotel, so we managed to wedge his folded glasses in place in his mask so he could mostly see.

On the return voyage, the older three boys were thrilled as they took turns driving the boat and avoiding rays (and capsizing the boat). Then we spent about thirty minutes at this tall but quite small lava formation at least one kilometre out to sea as the crew fished by line jigging. They caught a few of the large school of yellow fish congregating near the surface and near the rock, moving in unison and often open-mouthed at the surface.

Tonight we dined on the seven dollar special set meal at a different restaurant on the main strip and packed for our two flight travel day to get first to Santa Cruz and then to the (Ecuador) mainland by mid afternoon tomorrow.

So far we have some decent pictures (underwater and more so above ground), we have a few stories, and we have only lost (and not found) a ukulele and a water bottle. We have been falling asleep and waking to the ocean, but after tonight we will be exclusively inland.

Tomorrow the Mindo Cloud Forest…

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Highlands of Isabela

July 9

Waking up to the sound of the surf is a great way to wake up. Pick up time was 9:15, we piled into one of the pick-up truck taxis. The two older boys were ecstatic because we let them ride in the back with the guide on the way to the highlands. Our first stop was a short hike to see if we could find the Pajaro Brujo (Vermilian Fly Catcher Bird). We left the dry dark lava of the south and found green mangrove and other planted trees to make up a forest. Luckily for us, we saw the Parajo Brujo within minutes of getting out of the car. We still went for a short hike along a cow path in the wet forest. The whole area was shrouded with mist and our bird watching tour was successful, as the return of some rain has brought out more insects and thus more birds for us to see.

Our next stop was the Cueva de Sucre (Sucre’s Cave), named after the gentleman who owned the land where the caves are located. Our guide, Junior, told us that Sucre Gil used to hunt wild pigs who would take shelter in the cave when the weather was bad. The cave is actually a lava tunnel. It was really dark. Outfitted with headlamps, we explored the cave, sometimes crawling under ledges. Junior told us that we could not stay in the caves for too long as there is a high concentration of sulfur deposits in the tunnel.

Lunch was at an organic farm called Campo Duro. After we ate a delicious lunch of rice and lentils (and chicken), we had a short rest time in multiple hammocks strung up around a giant mango tree. I wouldn’t call what the boys did “resting”, but they had fun nonetheless practicing sleight of hand. Junior took us on a tour of the fruit grown on the farm and let us sample the different trees. Erez surprised Junior when he capably shimmied up a papaya tree and knocked down a beautiful ripe specimen for all of us to share.

Our last stop on the tour was Mango Look Out, a wooden platform built on a small peak overlooking the south side of the island. The view was gorgeous. We spotted a couple of hunters on horseback with two wild pigs gutted and strapped to the back of one of the horses. They were both chatting on cell phones as they rode by us!

After a short period of down time (something the boys have needed at the end of every day) we returned to their now daily ritual of running and splashing in the waves for an hour or two at the beach outside our door, working up an appetite for our dinner at 6:30.

It is a real treat to walk five minutes to eat on the patio of a lovely restaurant, just after swimming in the ocean. So far we have been away ten days and have already enjoyed some group time, some alone time with each person, a lot of learning and teaching about understanding getting along with others, and we are all still ready for more adventures.


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Penguin, Sharks, and Flamingos

July 8

Las Tintoreras

We awoke to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach of the hotel, as this island hotel has an even better view than our Santa Cruz room overlooking the main square and the harbour. The only time we have slept closer to the ocean was years ago in Thailand when we shared with cousin Kady a huge bed in a wooden hut right on the beach.

Every day we have breakfast included at the hotel. We have been enjoying tropical juices, eggs, and this time fresh pressed cheese.

The van picked us up and after a one minute drive we were at the port. We hopped in a small fishing boat and set off for Las Tintoreras, an area of Islets teeming with marine life. We saw a few sea lions and a stingray on our way to an island inhabited by Galapagos penguins (Teva’s favourite). They are small. On our way to our hike, one of the highlights was seeing blue-footed boobies synchronized diving for fish from up in the air. The islet we hiked was another example of dry seemingly extra-terrestrial landscape inhabited by strange creatures: large groups of marine iguanas, colourful crabs, and interesting lichen formations (only on the south side of the rocks due to the winds). We saw a large group of adult white-tipped sharks swimming along a characteristic rock channel.

Our third activity was snorkelling in a small lagoon (which becomes open sea at high tide). We saw oodles of sea turtles up close, swimming marine iguanas, schools of large angelfish, different species of sea stars, globe fish, anemones and urchins and too many others to mention.

Our morning was so successful we were an hour late coming home! Noam and Aubrey explored town to find supplies for lunch (somewhat successful with only two small mini-market hardware stores open at late for lunch time and no one has bread).

With fuller bellies, we took a cab (pick-up truck) outside of town to a flamingo hang-out. We joined a tour group exploring a large land tortoise breeding centre. They are working hard to save the many species of land tortoises on the island which are endangered. We were able to see tortoises of all ages and stages, including some embryonic and incubator samples. Tortoises can generally live over 150 years, but babies rarely survive in the wild with current ant, goat, cow and dog non-endemic and introduced species. Breeding programs here mimic natural processes and then return tortoises to the wild when they are old enough to fend off predators. So far they have been quite effective at turning around the potential extinction of several tortoise species.

We walked home by first taking a pathway over wooden walkways through several lagoons and wetlands. We saw interesting bird life, including a flamboyant of flamingos. At the end of the path, instead of going though the main road of town, we followed the beach home. Afterwards, the older three spent an hour playing in the waves by our hotel.

It is hot in town and cooler by the water, and it gets cool (socks! Pants!) Even in town once the sun goes down. Everything is a bit damp. Our dinner burritos and crunchy rice dish were so good we reserved a table for tomorrow. We also had a (not so young) coconut with a straw and watched part of a local adult turf mini-soccer match.

Tomorrow, the Highlands.


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Isabela Island

July 7

We got to leave a little later than usual. Pick up was at 10. This gave us plenty of time to pack up and eat a leisurely breakfast. We were picked up by our mini van and then took a water taxi to Baltra Island, and then took a bus to the airport. All of these modes of transportation were organized and provided by our tour company. We did not have a copy of our ticket as the tour company also booked the flight. This led to a bit of confusion as we didn’t know what flight number we were, exactly what time we were leaving, or the name of the airline. Somehow everyone figure out where we needed to go (it is a very small airport and the staff were helpful). They ushered us into a small open VIP lounge to wait. After a few false alarms, we walked out onto the tarmac to board a 9 passenger plane (that is five rows of two seats). Each seat was complete with yellow ear protectors. It was quite loud, and the view was breathtaking, although more so for the half we were beneath the clouds. The flight was about 30 minutes long and we made a smooth landing on Isabela. There is no real airport there, just a landing strip, so we should not encounter the same problems on the way back.

Isabela is the largest island of the Galapagos. It is more than four times larger than Santa Cruz, the next largest island, and it shaped like a sea horse. It has six intermittently active Volcanos. Most of it is uninhabited, including a lot of dark volcanic earth through all but the shorelines.

Only 2000 people live on Isabela. Puerto Villmil is tiny. Emilie, our Quebecoise guide said that Puerto Ayora (where we stayed on Santa Cruz) is like New York compared to here. We rode in one of the pick-up truck taxis to our hotel. We are right on the ocean! The boys needed some serious down time so we did nothing for awhile and then we went swimming and snorkelling out on our beach. Erez saw another stingray, Noam and Aubrey saw more cool fish, and Teva was content to jump waves at the shore. Zev took some time to read and have some alone time. He needed a break from everyone else for a few hours.

We had a delicious dinner on the main strip of restaurants that is the Main Street of town, and of course I fell asleep again in my clothes before 9 o’clock.

Tomorrow, Las Tintoreras

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North Seymour Island

July 6

North Seymour Island

Another early morning pick up. So early that the restaurant wasn’t open yet. They prepared us cheese omelette sandwiches to take on the road with us. We climbed into the bus, buzzing with energy. Unlike the last boat tour, there were no kids, only quiet, sleepy adults.We had a few whispered words to the boys about behaviour and respecting everyone’s space on the boat. Their behaviour was actually very good, and we needn’t have worried.

It was a one hour and ten minute journey to the Island. During this time we got to know some of the other passengers. Everyone was lovely. There was a couple who has lived in Israel for 17 years, transplanted from New York City. They were staying at a “safari camp” that was accommodating the strict Kosher dietary laws. There were two friends from San Fransisco: one French Canadian woman originally from Montreal (although she spoke perfectly unaccented English), and the other grew up in India but had been living in the States for more than half her life. We also chatted with a pair of twenty-something brothers from the US who were in South America for a Jewish family wedding. Their mother was from Bolivia, so we got to learn a tiny bit about the Jewish community in this part of South America. There was also a South American couple who spoke no English.

North Seymour Island was the nesting ground for many different species of birds and it is mating season all year round. We were able to see male Frigate birds on display, trying their hardest to impress the females. This involves inflating a giant, red, balloon-liked pouch from their neck for 5 or 6 hours at a time. During this time they flap their wings, fluff out their neck feathers and make interesting noises, all to get the female’s attention. We thought it looked a bit uncomfortable with this giant balloon under his neck. They only lay one egg a year, and only breed every other year. The duration of time the parents look after the young is longer than any other bird. Scientists also believe the Frigate can actually sleep while flying!

We saw many Blue Footed Boobies at every stage of life: eggs, soft fuzzy chicks, taller fuzzy “kids”, and also the larger “adolescents” with half their body covered in feathers, and half still covered in soft, downy fluff.

We got back on the boat for a delicious fish lunch, and then were taken to a secluded beach called Bachas to see pink flamingos in a small lagoon on the island. We retraced our steps from the small hike and then spent time snorkelling with Sea Turtles. Erez managed to see a stingray as well.

When we returned, we took a walk around the town while the kids vegged out in the apartment. One highlight was our visit to a small art gallery run by a woman who has a life story that could be made into a romantic movie.

We checked out the supermarket to pick up lunch supplies, always an interesting experience when not on familiar turf. We had an eclectic dinner at a small restaurant, while watching strange reality Ecuadorian TV. We ended the day with a walk around the pier, seeing many white tipped sharks swimming though the harbour, and a sea wolf sleeping in a dingy tied up to the pier. As usual, Koren feel asleep ridiculously early in her clothes, before the kids, and Aubrey had to deal with bedtime.

Tomorrow we fly to Isabela Island.

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Darwin and the Beach

July 5

Santa Cruz

We are staying in Puerto Ayora, at the southern tip of Santa Cruz Island. With a population of approximately 12,000, it is the largest town in the Galapagos. Today was our independent touring day. We let the kids sleep in till 7:40 (as every other day has been before 6).

We walked to the Charles Darwin Station, which was an indoor and outdoor display of the conservation efforts of the Charles Darwin Foundation. It was absolutely fascinating. There was so much about Darwin’s research that we did not know. He was clearly a brilliant thinker who developed theories on the development of atolls based on his observations of islands and reefs, on evolution based on observations of hummingbirds (and the more popularly discussed finches), and on volcanoes.

We enjoyed information about success in protecting the tortoises, the finches, and the iguanas endemic to these islands. We saw logged scrap books of actual plant samples taken by areas scientists. We were followed by an enthusiastic videographer during part of our stay to document our experience and consumption of the displays. We also slowly embraced the information and skeletal samples in the temperature controlled (thus air conditioned) sample room.

So long ago, a few of each species ventured from the mainland and settled in the Galapagos. Without competition, they thrived and evolved to suit their surroundings. Usually based on their particular island food source, those with particular adaptations ate better and thus bred better. We were able to spend time just observing saddleback tortoises move quickly around, and then we saw a large group of tortoises slowly chasing each other and climbing on top of each other. Perhaps they were mating, although it was unclear if these may have been some same sex pairings. Plus they often mounted on the side or at the front.

We had our empanada snack at the local beach. Even with some rain, the boys enjoyed snorkelling and exploring the area. Walking home in the rain, the temperature of the rain was so warm it was almost imperceptible. The droplets did not make it as far as skin.

We dined on leftovers (including some of Teva’s chocolate cake), walked to one end of downtown to pick up new wetsuits, then walked across the downtown and then along the 2.5 km path to beautiful white sand beach of the island at Tortuga Bay. After trekking past large waves and undertow, we made it suddenly from open ocean to a protected cove of calm ocean water. We swam and cooled off, explored the local marine iguana population (mostly lying in the sand looking dead), and then snorkelled in a partially protected area with an igneous rock outcropping. Suddenly we were swimming with two large sea turtles and a few small sharks. Breathtaking.

We survived the swim and the surf and the hour long hike back to our apartment, cleaned up, ate dinner and more ice cream or sherbet (tamarind!) and collapsed into bed again.

Tomorrow North Seymour Island.

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Teva’s 7th Birthday Adventure

July 4

We were very relieved to find two families with young kids on our bus this morning. This was a great sign. First we had an hour bus ride through Santa Cruz Island (from the main town at the south to the main port at the north) to the ferry dock. There we took a zodiac dingy out to our yacht, our home for the day.

It took an hour and 20 minutes to get to South Plaza Island. We saw a small group of spotted rays on the way as well as some playful sea wolves. Our guide Martime adamantly explained that the species here are NOT called sea lions, but sea wolves. They evolved similarly but without any recent relation. Sea wolves are unique to the Galápagos.

South Plaza Island is not very big, but was covered with interesting and colourful flora and fauna. When we disembarked, we saw a colony of female sea wolves lying in the sun, or splashing and playing with each other. We even saw one eat a crab. They were very cute. They were not frightened by us, in fact, they didn’t seem to pay any attention to us at all. As we left, we had to clap loudly to wake up two sleeping females so we could pass them and get into the dingy.

On the island we encountered large land iguanas lounging under Punta Cactii, small lava lizards scurrying across the rocks, marine iguanas on rocks near the water, and a multitude of interesting birds swooping around. The highlight was seeing our first Blue Footed Boobies.

The island is covered with igneous rock with the only vegetation being Punta cactii and interesting red succulent plants. We felt as if we were in an old Star Trek episode on some foreign planet, without the angry alien tossing a (styrofoam) boulder.

After encircling South Plaza Island, we got back on the boat for a fresh tuna lunch en route to our snorkelling destination. We are a bit spoiled having done most of our snorkelling in the Red Sea, but two exciting things of note happened on our snorkelling trip. First, I somehow dropped Teva’s underwater camera while trying to assist him with his mask. This was his new camera we bought him for his birthday last week. The amazing thing was that because it is bright blue, Aubrey spotted it 10 minutes later and Zev excitedly and capably dived the 15ft down to retrieve it. Birthday crisis averted. Teva deserves a lot of credit: he did not panic or get upset, but rather remained patient and calm the whole time it was missing.

The second interesting thing happened to Erez. He was snorkelling along, in the middle of a school of small fish close to the rocky cliff and looking down, when a huge brown pelican swooped down to get a snack, mere centimetres from Erez’s head. The pelican’s foot hit Erez’s hand as it entered the water and completely surprised Erez, who surfaced to figure what had just happened! Aubrey was about ten feet away, felt the commotion,and saw the pelican leave the water.

The boys enjoyed climbing all over the boat as we travelled back to the northern port. We then took the dingy and then the same bus back to the south.

We found a homemade birthday cake for Teva on our kitchen table! We sang and sampled before bed. Teva certainly ended the day full of fulfilled birthday wishes and very tired

We wandered through town and saw many sharks, a playful sea wolf, and a sea turtle at the water’s edge. We ate an authentic Ecuadorian meal (six different versions) with rice and sauces.

Tomorrow, Charles Darwin Station and Tortuga Bay.

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