A friend living in Spain had told me about a French lady, who had participated in the same exchange programme as we in Valencia and now had her own tourism agency on San Cristobal, one of the main islands on the Galapagos and the one I had landed on. So my goal when I woke up was to find that agency. Which I managed to do quite easily. But it was closed. As it was right on the “malecón” – port – I took the opportunity for a short walk… and get a first glance at the magic of the Galapagos: sea lions everywhere there is some water and sun to enjoy, black iguanas and gorgeous red crabs. I couldn’t wait before discovering more of these nature wonders.
In the afternoon, I opted to hire the services of the hotel’s guide, Danny, who was already taking care of two Australian tourists. We went to a place called “lobería” to do some snorkeling and see sea lions. On our way there, we were able to spot some huge iguanas. Much bigger than the ones I had seen at the port, which were only babies. Fascinating creatures, which let you come very close to them without giving any sign that they even noticed your presence. Perfect conditions and attitude for a photographer.
The Aussies prefered to stay on the beach while I and Danny went to discover the under water world. It was the first time I did snorkeling, so the first few minutes, I swallowed a lot of salty water. But I soon got used to it and only then came to fully understand the true meaning of the French expression “se sentir comme un poisson dans l’eau” – “feel like a fish in the water” or, in other words, feel that you are exactly at your place. Until I spotted two turtles. I got all emotional and excited and got another few mouthfuls of sea water. The feeling – of spotting the turtles, not swallowing water – was incredible. The silence, the filtered sun and following those elegant animals. I could have followed them until deep into the Pacific Ocean. If it hadn’t been for the cold. So I came back closer to the beach.
There were some playful sea lions about 50 meters from me. I tried to go closer. Apparently, one of them was looking forward to this new company and came swimming full speed right at me. In my surprise and fear of a frontal collision, I got an ostrich reaction, except that instead of putting my head in the sand, I got it out of the water. It only took me a fraction of a second to realise the non-sense of the movement, as the animal would have been smart and quick enough to avoid me, but it was too late. He was already gone.
First day on the island and I was in love with the Galapagos already. I was looking forward to the 10 remaining ones.