The Land of Land Iguanas


This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, November 25, 2003 was originally posted on November 29, 2003.

DAY 38: Manuel was tidying up the lounge area in the morning while I was waiting for the first diving group to return.  He poured himself a drink and told me it was his wife’s birthday back at home.  “Salud,” he said as he raised his glass.

“Salud!” I reciprocated.  Funny, I had no idea he was married all that time.

“IT WAS AN AMAZING DIVE!” Sergei the Hamburger said.  (He’s from Hamburg, Germany, silly.)  “Twelve hammerheads swam right by us, maybe just one meter away!”

“Do you take travelers’ checks?” Sonya asked Ty, who wasn’t intending on diving until she heard all the raves.  She joined me, Sylvain and Carolina in the second group at Gordon Rocks.

GORDON ROCKS, THREE MASSIVE ROCKS in the middle of the ocean off the east coast of Isla Santa Cruz, is known as the place to dive in the Galapagos as it is at the crossroads of different currents of the Pacific with varying temperatures.  Gordon Rocks has been known to have strong currents — sometimes so much that inexperienced divers have cried after a dive — but Ty said it was relatively calm with the first group.

Underwater, we swam around the rocks that reached deep down to the ocean floor.  For a majority of the time, the water was relatively warm, until we entered this one small patch of extremely cold water, which strengthened my theory that most warm ocean water is just urine from those kids who pee during family beach trips — I was one of them — and we had just stumbled upon the one small patch of real ocean water. 

A sea turtle swam near us as we scaled up a pile of volcanic rocks.  I looked up and above us two hammerheads swam nearby with their eyes on the sides of their weirdly-shaped heads that would probably come in handy if a person with high hair ever sat in front of them at the movie theater.  The hammerhead sighting was only temporary and not as awesome as the one the first group had, but it was a thrill nonetheless.

AFTER BREAKFAST, WE MADE A LANDING on South Plaza Island, the land of land iguanas (picture above), a different species than the marine iguanas that has been indigenous to this blog thus far.  Land iguanas munched on cactus trees as we hiked around the designated trail to the rocky cliffs were swallow-tailed gulls made their nests in the ledgesOcean waves crashed below caressed the rocks with turquoise and white foam.

Post-lunch snorkel time was off the rocky coast of Isla Santa Fe.  A family of about five sea lions swam around me and played chicken.  One by one, each would come straight towards me like a torpedo and then swerve at a 90 degree angle at the last minute to avoid collision.  Tatjiana warned me from the dingy that I was getting too close to a male harbormaster, so I steered clear of sea lions after that.

I managed to find an eagle ray flying through the hydroscape, flapping its wings through the clear blue water, followed by a sea turtle.  Animals just seem to pop up at convenient times in these parts.  While I explored some of the rocks, I noticed a sea snake slithering between the crevices.  When I told the others on board that I had seen one, they didn’t believe me, saying that I had just seen an eel.  But I pointed out a picture in Maartin’s animal book — I had found the one species of sea snake found in the entire archipelago, the very rare — and very venomous — yellow-bellied sea snake.  It’s a shame I didn’t have a picture developed from my underwater camera to show them at the time.  (I know it’s hard to see; it’s a digital photo of a developed photo of a blurry shot, but at least I’m still alive.)

“IF YOU TURN OVER THE ROCKS,” Mauricio said during our land trek on Isla Santa Fe.  “You might find a scorpion.”  As he continued to lecture about the Galapagos hawks, lava lizards, iguanas (and iguana corpses) and a new type of endemic cactus tree, I couldn’t help but be curious and just turned over rocks in search of scorpions.  Most of the time I found nothing — they probably avoided the rocks on the tourist trail because of annoying curious people like myself — but after twenty five tries I found a small one scurry away before I could grab my camera.  After that I reverted my attention back to Mauricio. 

“Smell the scent of these tree,” he said.  “They burn this like incense and it keeps mosquitos away.”  One by one we touched the sap and smelled the sweet mushroom/licorice scent.

“Be careful with this.  You must wash your hands right away because it becomes infectious.”  We were far away from any sink or even the ocean and we all had looks on our face like a midget had suddenly appeared from behind a tree wearing a Speedo.

“Just kidding.”

WHILE WE WAITED AT THE BEACH, there was a pride of sea lions lazily sleeping in the same like they always do.  Really, the life of a sea lion must be awesome; they just sleep on the beach or go swimming all day in between meals and sucking on teets.  Anyway, the male harbormaster of this pride was particular protective of his women like — as Sonya and I describe in unison — “a pimp protecting his bitches.”  The male chased anyone who tried to take a photo of them and we ran away in fear of sea lion bites.  James managed to get a quick photo of me lying next to them before the male started charging me. 

We must have been a real annoyance since the women started getting cranky too and made us flinch a couple of times.  Luckily Manuel, who was not only a waiter and bartender but a sailor as well, came in a dingy before any unfortuante incidents. 

SONYA BEAT ME IN TWO GAMES OF CHESS back on the ship — she’s half Russian and I’m just suck — as we cruised to the southern island of Española through the night.

Next entry: The Bird Slut

Previous entry: The Dating Game

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Comments for “The Land of Land Iguanas”

  • that picture of the water snake wasn’t too bad. i could make out its head and i think it was sticking its tongue out at the time.
    here is a link for people who want to see what it looks like in whole:

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  06:21 PM

  • Nice iguana carcas!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  06:39 PM

  • again…great pics! keep it up.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  01:12 PM

  • I can’t believe how close you get to all those critters to take those great photos. The sea lions are awesome, the scenery unbelievably beautiful. You suck. Now I’m jealous!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  04:43 PM

  • Christy:  come on down…the waters warm and the sharks are friendly…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  09:41 PM

  • “woah”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/01  at  03:12 AM

  • HAHA, snakes love you.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/01  at  02:18 PM

  • I second that iguana carcass. Crazy picture. He looks like a mummy. I also like the lying with the bitches photo haha.

    How’s the jellyfish sting?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/01  at  07:06 PM

  • DEWBIE:  Its been five days, and the sting still irritates my skin…i think part of it is because ive been wearing my watch again, but lately i haven’t…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/02  at  12:47 AM

  • Cool iguana corpse. And that wet sea lion is fun too!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/02  at  08:44 PM

  • i’m sooo behind on your blog. must catch up! 

    what’s the size of that iguana up there. looks like he can pass for a full size person. he’s huge. yikes.

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/07  at  12:21 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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