Feb. 22 Back to Santa Cruz
My taxi to the ferry dock was scheduled for 5:20 am, so I was up early and took a nice long shower, knowing it would be my last opportunity till I check into the hotel in Quito on the 26th since we take “navy showers” on the boat. There was some confusion at the dock I, along with some others, wouldn’t be taking the same boat back that we arrived on; it always seems very unorganized but in the end it all works out, my lack of understanding Spanish doesn’t help much. The ride back went well, no one got sick; once back on board I didn’t waste any time, just unpacked and headed for shore and breakfast.
On the map in the tourist guide they show a place called Tortuga Bay that doesn’t seem far from town as it is on one of the main roads. I picked up a jug of water and started making my way there; I followed the map but ended up at a dead end no signs or welcome center as shown, just a paved driveway leading up a steep hill. Thinking I made a mistake somewhere I walked back into town and hailed a taxi figuring once he took me there I would know the way back. We drove a bit and then he dropped me off at the steep driveway I had just left, saying I would have to walk the rest of the way. I signed in at the welcome center, located at the top of the driveway and started out down the cobblestone trail. Be warned it is 2 ½ kilometers long and there is very little shade along the way; scrub brush and prickly pear cacti line the trail. I stopped to talk to a guy from Long Island and then two young women, wearing only bikinis walked by, so I quickly resumed my walk now with incentive to persevere ahead of me (think holding a carrot out in front of a horse, or maybe an ear of corn out in front of a pig might be a better comparison).
The trail ended at a very wide and long white sand beach, the waves were breaking just off shore and some people were body surfing there. The guide at the welcome center recommended walking down the beach a little to a sheltered lagoon as the current can be strong at the beach. In the lagoon the water was flat although somewhat murky from sand being stirred up. There aren’t any facilities here so bring plenty of water with you; it is possible to rent kayaks on the beach. I snorkeled for quite a while and say some fish but not any I hadn’t seen before; I came across what I believed to be a sea cucumber and my guess turned out to be right as I spotted another one that was discharging sand from his back end.
I laid in the sun a while soaking up some rays; there are a lot of biting flies but repeated applications of Skin So soft seemed to help keep them away. The area is part of the national park system and closes at 6:00 pm; I started back around 3:30 just as a bus load of tourist was making their way down. When I was at the lagoon I did notice two elderly women being dropped off by a panga, so that is an option for those not inclined to walk that distance in the hot sun. I walked back to town and by the time I got there my feet were killing me, having probably walked 5 miles today with sandals that are nearly worn through and not offering any support; thankfully they only have to last three more days.
I stopped for a snack, grilled chorizo and a grilled plantain stuffed with queso fresco, then took a water taxi back to the boat; they are very convenient and run all night; the fare is $.60 7 am – 7pm and $1 otherwise. Everyone else was onboard when I got back so we sat around and drank some beers before heading ashore for dinner.
“Eat Street” is a big hit with the crew and has become the nightly dinner spot. I went for a roasted (grilled) pork chop served with rice and beans $6.50. They were serving beers but in plastic cups, not sure what that is all about but I wasn’t going to complain. With the tables crowed into the street and people sharing tables, not only is it a great value for dinner, but also a good way to meet people both local and tourist. I shared my table with a young couple who had relocated to the island a few years ago and got the low down on the different fish that are offered for sale; the red ones are stronger tasting than the grey and only buy ones who eyes looking straight ahead as they will be fresher than the ones whose eyes have turned sideways. After dinner we sat around drinking some more beers and chatting with the people around us, and then it was back to the boat for nightcaps. I enjoyed sleeping on deck again, nice breeze blowing to keep me cool and comfortable.
Feb. 23 Santa Cruz
Had a local breakfast today, eggs, plantain ball and stewed tripe, I was a little nervous about the tripe, but it was cleaned properly so no ill effects were felt. Spent the morning walking around town checking out some of the areas I haven’t been to yet and talking with the other WARC’ers I met along the way.
Wiggo and I decided to try a beach on the other side of the anchorage for a change, you can’t walk there but the water taxis drop you off at a nearby dock. There are a few high end hotels here with landscaped grounds and patio restaurants. We walked along the pathways past them and at one point came upon a compost pile in which someone had thrown some aloe plants, having got a lot of sun yesterday I picked one of the greener leaves and began applying it to my forehead.
The beach was in a small lagoon, protected from the swells by a small reef at the outer edge. The water was cool enough to be refreshing and we swan amongst the many people there. We did some snorkeling and thewater cleared up as you got further out where it wasn’t being kicked up by the swimmers. I saw a lot of colorful fish, however my camera didn’t charge properly last night so I couldn’t get any photos.
We had a light lunch at the restaurant on the bay went back to the boat to change and hangout until happy hour. The WARC fleet meets for happy hour at The Rock, so we made our way down there to see the other crews, more boats are arriving everyday and the crowd is getting bigger each night. When everyone started to clear out we went back to the boat for some nightcaps while Richard played guitar until we all headed off to bed.