Today we went to Isla de la Plata! Commonly referred to as "Poor Man's Galapagos," this island is much more easily accessible than the actual Galapagos Islands, which are about 6 hours away by boat, and much more expensive to visit. This island is home to a bunch of interesting birds including the Nazca boobies, frigatebirds, waved albatrosses, tropicbirds, and peruvian pelicans, and is part of the Machalilla National Park.
HIGHLIGHT: WE SAW BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES!!!
When we woke up we weren't too sure about how successful the trip would be since it was raining and grey, but it turned out to be awesome. After a quick breakfast downstairs, we met our tour guide outside the hotel (in Puerto Lopez, the town we were staying) at 9:30 and walked over to the dock a few blocks away. We bought our package yesterday at $35 per person, which was not a bad price for what it included. We got onto our little boat, put on our life jackets, and enjoyed an hour long boat ride to the Isla de la Plata. I fell asleep on the way there!
Islands are interesting to me because they are, by definition, surrounded by water on all sides. We couldn't see land from the island which blows my mind if only for the incomprehensibleness of multiple species inhabiting the island to the degree that they do. We pulled up to the island from the south side, and the rocks were black, so I assume they were left there from a volcanic eruption of some kind. Not sure on that one though.
To start off, we saw some lovely turtles from the boat.
The time on the island was spent hiking. It was insanely hot. By the time we finished the 3 hour loop, it looked like I had gone swimming and put my shirt over my wet bathing suit for an hour. That's how sweaty I was. It was totally worth it.
We had the choice to do one of two walking paths. I decided to do the one to see the fragatas (or fregatidaes in english) which are funny birds who puff their chests out like big red balloons to impress the ladies. We were on the island at the start of mating season, so we were lucky to see a ton of red balloon chests.
At one point in the hike we had a beautiful view of the island below and the birds flying overhead. That was really quite the scene. Once we reached the bottom again, we boarded the boat and had sandwiches for lunch. Then, we had the opportunity to go snorkeling for a bit. Since my camera doesn't go underwater, I couldn't take any pictures. I saw some cool jellyfish though! Apart from that, I've had better snorkeling experiences. The most relaxing part of the day was laying down on the front part of the boat and eating watermelon with a light sea breeze. The sun came out and we headed back to Puerto Lopez. Once we got there, we saw kids playing on the beach. We went back to the hostel and had much needed showers.
We headed back out for the sunset, and then ate the most wonderful meal at Patacon Piseo. I split a HUGE patacon pisada, which is basically a bunch of fried, flattened plantain (delicious) with shrimp and lovely typical coastal sauce. This was a Colombian restaurant, so we enjoyed colombian coffee and discussed variations in vocabulary between Colombia and Ecuador.
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