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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lost and Found in Ecuador

The Ecuadorean Amazon, the Galapagos, all under the safe wing of knowledgeable naturalists.  Whee, we're off!

It's not that the Amazon is hot; it's the humidity that kills you.  Dripping with sweat five minutes after showering, the guide plunked us into canoes, and we were off to the quitude of Tapoche Lake.  Quiet except for the flock of five Hoatzin (five is a flock, isn't it?), direct descendants  of dinosaurs, that followed us.  Quietude?  Hoatzin are supposed to be shy, but they squawked and scolded us all around the misty lake.  We’d lost our camera or forgotten to pack it, who could tell at this point, so I am pulling a picture off the internet.  I can't decide if they're beautiful or funny-looking.

So much more colorful than my imaginings of prehistoric fauna.

When I found our camera (in the bottom of the suitcase where I’d looked a hundred times, I swear), I lost my flashlight . (I read by it when the electricity went out at 10 the night before, so it had to be SOMEWHERE, didn't it?)  Our guide took us to a Quechen community -- a few raised platform homes and a one room school)  where we walked to a 100-year-old Kapok tree,  the prototype  for the Tree of Life in Avatar. 
No blue people flew over our heads, just the blue, blue sky. 
We had a native Quechen lunch of grilled fish wrapped in leaves with a dessert of grilled grubs.

Before we cooked them, they crawled around on this leaf.
AFTER we grilled them, they tasted just like bacon. 
(These were being prepared for sale at the town market.)

Back at the lodge, I looked above the shelf and below my bed, but it turned out that when I 'd returned from the bathroom half asleep in the middle of the night, I’d put my flashlight away in the dry bag.  Who knew I was so responsible?  The next day, we boated back to the mainland and took the tour bus back to Quito over the Andes.  We stopped at the Guango Lodge which is a hummingbird sanctuary.  Hummingbirds were all over the place!  They move pretty fast, so the picture's a bit fuzzy.
If you’re a  Dr. Seuss fan, you will appreciate that this one, with its long tail,
reminded me of the vain Lola-lee-lou. 

We arrived in Quito, dizzy from the altitude, in time to eat dinner and send clothes out for overnight laundry.  In the morning we re-packed and flew to the Galapagos.   The dock in San Cristobal was alive with sea lions. 
This baby was still nursing when we came back to town several hours later.

Our cabin was rife with clever storage [unlike the hotel in Quito where we simply tossed things around in our luggage leading to the previous post on losing my phone (see May 9)].  In unpacking, I found a black shirt that I’d forgotten I'd packed.  
Our first stop was on South Plaza, a tiny island with the giant tortoise preserve.  It was tortoise mating season, and the females hunkered down while the males roamed.  When the males come across a female, any female, they climb on, maybe from the side, maybe from the front -- they have pretty small brains --but eventually they get it right.  When they are successful, they give a loud groan:  UNGH!   (Apart than a whoosh of air that rushes out when they withdraw into their shells for protection, it’s the only sound they make.)  The groans resounded intermittently all over the preserve.  Men!


FThree female tortoises doubtless discussing their dating prospects.

Normally the Booby is a dopey-looking bird with duck’s feet that phosphoresce pale blue, 

Their feet are very, very blue.

but the following day, our group, distributed in two dinghies, found ourselves in the middle of a Blue Footed Booby feeding frenzy.  Above us, a mass of maybe 100 Boobies sighted a school of fish below.  They swooped clockwise around us and, one by one, pointed their toes, tucked in their wings and turned themselves into arrows, long beak first.  They plunged three meters for breakfast.
The one toward your left is streamlined and diving.

Now and then one had rest on the rocks.
Booby and friend (a Galapagos penguin)

We snorkeled almost every afternoon, and the ship sailed to the next islandevery night.  One night as we began to haul out, I realized I’d forgotten to retrieve our bathing suits from the line up on deck.  I went up to get them so they wouldn’t blow out and be lost at sea.  One of the sailors on a break motioned me to look over the back deck.  Sea lions were following the ship, twisting and leaping out of the water.  They were jumping after small blue flying fish, snapping them out of the air and swallowing them whole.  I was so tired, I didn’t even think to go to our cabin and get my camera.  Instead I will show you a picture of the Greater Flamingos on Isabella Island. 

 What is it with the girls in groups of threes?

On our last evening aboard, I ran to our cabin to take a picture of two crew members who were performing a folk dance for us. I pulled the battery  from the charger and popped it in place.  I ran (or rolled, really, the ship was moving, and it was pretty choppy) back to the lounge and aimed.  The screen proclaimed N"o chip."  No chip?  No chip?!!!   What, are you kidding?  No picture of the charming dance?  Wait, I’ve just lost ALL my vacation photos?  Steve opened the camera, and, sure enough, we'd lost the chip.

  I don’t have the folk dance, so here are marine iguanas.  They face the sun in unison. 
They remind me of teenagers in a high school hallway.
The land iguanas are more colorful:  yellow and orange.

 Steve eventually found the chip on the couch.  It must have jiggled loose when I put the battery in and then flipped out onto the cushions when Steve opened the battery case to check.  Good grief!

 Early the next morning sailing to the airport, we circled Daphne Major, the tropic bird mating well, not island, more like large hunk of rock.  We saw lots of tropic birds and also a short eared owl that had wrested a frigate bird from a tropic bird and was eating it's guts.
Tastes just like bacon!
Back in Quito, the night before the flight home, I lost the document case I bought in 1967 for my semester in London which wasn’t too bad as my passport was safely tucked in my pants zipper pocket, but still, lots of memories in that soft piece of leather.  Ah ha!  Found it stuck to the bottom of my Kindle case. 

My self-image as an efficient and organized traveler has taken a blow.  Still, in the end, nothing stayed lost, and I was ready to go home to my light green-eyed pussycat.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this Ann and the photos. I'm so glad you and Steve had such a wonderful trip and I hope to go for my 60! Janice