Floreana & the 4th of July: Galapagos Day 8

Embarking on our final tour, we were pros and took seats on the lower level. Two hours later, we were on the coast of Floreana snorkeling. The water was ice cold and I found myself consciously trying to regulate my breathing. However, the lava flows were worth the effort. They looked like fingers stretching into the ocean. Many different starfish called this part of the Pacific their home. I saw chocolate chip starfish, banana starfish and even a blue starfish. A yellow goldfish swam below us and the guide said this was rare to see in that area. Soon a sea turtle and a black tipped shark came to visit. A sea lion put on a playful show almost inviting us to follow along.

Back on the boat, we went to a new spot and took a dingy to shore. We followed the guide along a trail and through some rocks until it opened up to a beautiful beach. Fierce ran back and forth along the beach from one end to the other. He got me and one of the girls to race with him and we all had a great time. At one point I was standing in the shallows letting the waves roll over my feet when I felt a sting ray crawl right over my left foot. I jumped! I had seen a handful of stingrays near the shore, but I didn’t realize they would come that close!

Later, we had lunch on the boat and Fierce decorated the table with the American flag and red, white and blue necklaces for the 4th of July. The other American tourists thanked him for making it a festive day. After lunch was cleaned up, the guide put out a fishing line and Fierce and I went up top to enjoy the view as the boat strolled along. It was such a nice, sunny, breezy day.

We made our way to Pirate Cave. The entrance to the rocky cove is riddled in old or perhaps even pirate etchings of names into the rocks. The pirates used to use this cove to avoid the Spanish. During the beginning of the winter months, it is misty with rain and the island looks as if it disappears, appears and then is gone again. The Spanish were very superstitious and wouldn’t enter the islands during these months so it was the perfect hideaway. We took a dingy to the shore and then did a short, but steep hike to a beautiful view. Along the way you snake through mounds of black lava rock which look like natural fortifications. After taking it all in, we went back down to hang out on the beach with the sea lion colonies. Some of the tourists laid on the beach not far from them, but Fierce and his friend jumped the waves as the little pups swam nearby their infectious laughter. On the beach there were tons of little sun bleached conch shells amidst red and black lava rocks. The sand was a golden color from olivine. Further up the beach we found a nesting site for the Blue Footed Boobles. You can get close and they just look at you and go back to their routine. They are really cute.

After hanging out for a while, we headed back to the boat. The guide stopped at one more site where the Commorant birds swoop above the rocks. On the rocks, the iguanas sun themselves. These iguanas are a bit different than the ones found on the other islands, they have some orange coloring on their bodies rather than all black. The crabs were active jutting this way and that and the sea lions were napping in the little holes of the rocks. Above or below, there were so many animals all in one small space putting on a spectacular show completely unaware of the onlookers awe.

We made it back to the port and took a water taxi to the docks to find  a sea lion sleeping on the bench just as we got off the plank. Ten feet in front of us, another gorgeous bird was perched on the railing. Fierce let me grab a picture, but he was more interested in going to the skate park stage in the center of the town and put on a show for the 4th of July. He got up there and waved his USA flag while doing a dance he learned from Odd Squad (a zany math show). He wanted me to join in, but all I could do was wave my own flag with him. He was disappointed with me, but I told him I was just loving his show. I think I made it up to him by getting pizza and Coke for dinner. He did get me to join him in waving our flags out the taxi window while he said happy 4th of July! I have to admit, I am such an under the radar kind of traveler that this was a huge stretch for me and I gave the taxi driver an extra tip for all of our fun. You know what though, he loved our last day and he loved celebrating the 4th of July in the Galapagos. It was a day that I will look back on and smile.