November 21, 2003
A Day at the Beach
DAY 32: Three kilometers west of Puerto Ayora lies Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay), with a white sand beach open to the public. During the high season, I can imagine it being crowded with beachgoers and surfers, but it being the lowest of the low season, I had it all to myself.
A twenty-minute hike along a winding brick path brought me to Turtle Bay, where the surf was big and the waters turquoise. Despite its name, there was no evidence of turtles there, other than one dug-up hole I found where I thought one may have laid eggs since I saw remnants of a turtle egg shell nearby.
It was an overcast day and a bit breezy, but tranquilo. I took my boots off and walked down the shore as the relaxing white noise of ocean waves filled the air. During my stroll, I realized I wasn't alone; marine life was all around me. Orange-footed birds landed near the rocks, where thousands of dark crabs crawled through the crevices. Red crabs searched for food along the sand before crawling back into their perfect holes in the sand. Pelicans soared above the water, searching for a mid-day snack.
Perhaps it was because I was in the national park zone -- where animals aren't threatened by humans -- that I was able to get fairly close to them. The little finches were particularly curious, always approaching me. One of them even stood guard of my bag when I put it down for a bit to take some photos.
I sat for a while and just enjoyed the serenity of it all with my box of Ritz crackers and cheese. I noticed that someone had dropped two seasickness pills and I cleared it off the beach before any of the birds accidentally ingested it, thinking that it may destroy the balance of nature or something. This helped me clear my conscience from the time I was in Antarctica in 2002 and accidentally left two Advil tablets on land -- available to any wandering penguin -- when I used them to form eyeballs for a snowman I made with my friend Sam. I can only hope the Advil only alleviated headaches -- or hangovers -- for two lucky penguins and nothing more.
The path went in a big circle and led me back to the beach, where I just put my hat over my eyes and took a nap for half an hour.
"Is today Thursday?" Gwen asked me.
I didn't know the answer until I looked at my watch. "Yeah, Thursday. I probably wouldn't care unless I didn't have a tour on Saturday."
When you spend days just surfing and fishing and nothing else, I suppose that what day it is doesn't matter at all. It's a great feeling.
Gwen had a go at fishing again, as a marine iguana looked on. She still had no luck, but then Steve came from surfing, cast a line and caught a grouper in about three minutes. Meanwhile on the other side of the rocks, Mike and Sonya (the Dutch couple from the night before) were still struggling for a bite. Mike pulled out his line and got nothing -- not even his hook and sinker.
"I guess it's time to go," he said.
We walked back over the rocks and to the beach. Along the way, Steve would run towards an iguana and catch it by its tail like the Crocodile Hunter, and then pick it up and tickle its belly. Afterwards, the lizard would run away for dear life -- possibly on the lookout for accidental motion sickness pills.
"They probably get sick of all the tourists doing that all the time," Steve said.
"I don't think that I would be able to travel alone, I'd get too lonely," she said. "But I think it's good because you find things about yourself."
"I haven't found anything about myself yet." I could have told her that one thing I found was that I really don't have any qualms about taking pictures of poo, but I kept that to myself.
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