Feed on

Day #6: Tortuga Bay

So, Ronald showed up at our door last night around 9pm with the news that our itinerary had been altered. It seems that the seas between Santa Cruz and Sante Fe had been fairly rough the past few days, making our only landing impossible. The new plan was for us to go to Tortuga Bay (a nearby beach) early in the morning (7am) followed by the 2 hour (one way) cruise to Santa Fe around noon for a single snorkeling expedition in one of its bays.

I pretty much knew immediately we wouldn’t take the more limited day trip to Santa Fe. I also knew Libby felt exactly the same way (which she confirmed). Why?

When planning the trip, we’d debated pretty extensively which excursion to do on our second full day with our planner. Santa Fe was ultimately picked despite the bay snorkel, as I knew Emerson would enjoy the beach landing. Now we faced 4 hours of rough sea crossings, having to tank Emerson (and perhaps us) up on Dramamine, eat a so-so lunch aboard the boat, to do an activity only one of us would ultimately participate in — nope, nope, nope!

While I’m sure some (maybe most) folks would have soldiered on and forced there family to do the activity, I’m just not that guy. We’ve traveled too much. I also always believe “we’ll be back” (whether we ultimately will or not). Therefore, I don’t stress about “missing something,” especially if “missing something” forces us to do something we’re not feeling. Ultimately, I’d rather waste money than time — I have more than enough of the former to meet our needs and an unknown and indefinite supply of the latter.

So, when we met our guide at 7am, I informed him that we’d only do the Tortuga Bay part of the trip. I suspect Ronald had told him this might happen, as he didn’t seem too shocked. But, it nonetheless resulted in him doing some logistical gyrations to give us more time at Tortuga Bay and a lunch in town.

In any case, he packed us into a taxi and went to collect another family that we’d be meeting up with at the Tortuga Bay entrance checkpoint.

What to say about Tortuga Bay? There are essentially two beach areas.

One is postcard-worthy long stretch of fine white sand facing the ocean that has some serious surf and therefore is unsafe for swimming:

The other is an equally pretty sheltered lagoon / cove that’s on the back (far) side of the long beach:

So, it’s a really nice beach.

But, being in the Galapagos it entirely lacks facilities of any sort. By land, it is only accessible after a 3.5 kilometer walk from the checkpoint over small hills on a paved path that’s pretty exposed to the sun (plus the walk down the beach to the lagoon). It’s also not a very interesting snorkeling spot.

It is, however, a great place to see many marine iguanas:

The plan was for us to swim (which we did) and take a later (11:30) water taxi back to town where we’d be met on the dock by one of the Guiding Galapagos team members, who’d take us to a lunch spot in town.

The swimming part went fine — basically a day at the beach (not wildly novel to a Floridian, but perfectly pleasant). Our guide introduced us to the captain of the 11:30 “water taxi” before he left with the other family. So, all in all, things went fine until it was time to go.

At that point, we made our way to where the water taxi embarks. For some reason, they use a lava rock cliff as a kind of pier (similar to a dry landing from a panga). From there one is expected to step from the rock ledge to the bow of the boat. The lava rocks, however, are pretty uneven and the step–now at low tide–was gargantuan. By that I mean at least as great as Emerson is tall (about 4′)… from a slippery, precarious rock face… to a moving vessel.

Emerson and Libby were kind of “freaking out” about having to do it. And, I personally thought it had the potential for all sorts of orthopedic, spinal, or head injuries written all over it. Umm no — fuck that!

I turned around, and we started to leave. This sent the captain running after us. We exchanged a few choice words in which I explained in Spanglish that this was exceedingly “stupido” and that we intended to “vamanos” the way we came.

And, that’s exactly what we did… trudging unhappily with our gear the few miles back into town under the noon sun.

Once in town, we headed to the highly-rated Galapagos Deli (I didn’t even worry about finding someone from Guiding Galapagos) for lunch. Emerson and I ate exceptionally good pizza and had ice cream for dessert. Libby had a great chicken sandwich. We all enjoyed ice cold drinks and relaxing in the shady restaurant.

We then made our way back to the hotel, got cleaned up and relaxed for a couple of hours (something we really hadn’t done yet on this trip). Ronald showed up before dinner looking kind of sheepish. I think he expected us to be pissed off, but by that point I was in a better mood. I explained what had happened and was non-committal about his invitation to dinner in lieu of the included lunch that we missed (though it was a nice gesture).

In keeping of the theme of doing what I want vs. what’s cheapest, we opted to blow off the Guiding Galapagos invitation and ate at Il Giardino again, which is a really nice spot with good food:

All in all, the day was fine. Had it been planned this way to start (just doing our own thing), we likely would have been perfectly happy. However, feeling like we wasted time and money left something of a bad taste in my mouth.

But, this happens.

Travel often isn’t perfect. Some days are better than others. We’d just spent Thanksgiving Day in the Galapagos. And, that’s pretty cool in and of itself.

Leave a Reply