Easter Sunday at
Sombrero Chino
and Bartolomé...
April 8, 2007

It would have been easy to have completely forgotten that today was Easter. If it wasn’t for our boat’s very own Easter Bunny (i.e.
Deb), I am sure none of us would have even realized it. But we got a little treat when we sat down to breakfast and saw little
Hershey chocolates with their Easter wrappers sitting on the corner of all of the placemats. Needless to say, we all started our
morning with some chocolate. Well, with the exception of Vic. Deb knew he wasn’t a chocolate fan so he was the recipient of some
Easter Pringles.

Today’s Galapagos adventures would start off at Sombrero Chino (also known as ‘Chinese Hat’). It is obvious where the island’s
name comes from as the island looks just like a Chinese hat. When we got out of our zodiacs, two little baby sea lions welcomed us to
their island. They were brothers and they were the absolute cutest things! The beaches here were also unique in that they were
white coral beaches. The coral we were walking on was just like the souvenir coral that our parents used to bring us back from
Hawaii. But this was the real deal.

As we made our way around the island, sounds of crashing waves kept getting louder and louder. We maneuvered our way around
the lava rocks and then we stopped to watch. Holy wavus giganticus! The waves were massive. The biggest I had ever seen in my
life. They were incredible to watch. We stood there for a while doing just that.

And as the story goes, we all still loved our sightings of the crabs and iguanas. This obviously isn’t the case with the bright red crabs
but I have to point out how amazing the way that the iguanas camouflage into the rocks is. A lot of times it takes someone pointing
to something to realize that there is a living creature within inches of you. Needless to say, it is crucial to always look down while
walking around these islands – things that could look like rocks from out of the corner of your eyes are probably, in fact, sea lions or

And now it was time for some Easter Sunday snorkeling. Some
cold Easter Sunday snorkeling (I had no idea how cold the water out
here was going to be!) But how many times will I be able to say that I was snorkeling within feet of cacti? Pretty incredible, huh?
Anyway, the first thing that I noticed while snorkeling in this area were the starfish. And these weren’t just
any starfish. The
patterns and colors on these things made seeing starfish a treat – some had bright orange dots on them; others were electric blue.
Who knew starfish could be so beautiful? Not I.

But that wasn’t all that this area had to offer our visual senses. Of course there were the requisite parrotfish (though they might be
common, I still love these colorful guys), schools of sardines and a big puffer fish. But the crème de la crème was when a white tip
reef shark swam by. The ones we saw yesterday must have been the children of this guy. He was huge! At least 5-6 feet long. The
funny thing is that it is impossible to know how you’re going to react to being in the water with such a thing. Prior to this, I would
have maybe thought that I would get a little nervous. But now I know that isn’t so. I found myself swimming after the guy just so I
could keep watching him. My other fellow snorkelers did the same. Call it naïve, but it is easy to have the feeling that they are going
to do absolutely no harm to you at all. In fact, they are absolutely beautiful to watch as they sit at the floor of the ocean and then as
they glide through the water. This little Jaws Jr. made my immersion in the cold water more than worthwhile.

That would have capped off the day perfectly. But we weren’t done! It was time to head out to Bartolomé – an island consisting of
almost nothing but lava rock and ash. We would catch our first glimpse of a lone blue-footed booby when we got off our boat. This
little guy then put on a show for us by doing his dive-bombs into the ocean to try to get fish (the sad truth is that the majority of the
time they are unsuccessful with this).

We walked to the uppermost point. Our reward? An incredible view of the other side of the island – complete with two beaches
separated by red mangrove trees. This would be the area where we would go snorkeling later on (clearly by the beaches and not by
the mangroves…).

On our way to go snorkeling, we took a little ride in the zodiac. Our zodiac driver got us up close and personal to the endangered
Galapagos penguins. Now I know it’s normal to see such a thing in a place like Antarctica…but I am now in a climate where we are
bouncing around to different islands with cacti on them all while basking in the sun on the deck of the boat (okay, we
would have
doing that today if the skies weren’t so overcast). So these little penguins seemed to be quite a unique sight. Did I mention
that sea lions were plopped down on the rocks within inches of them? Oh yeah...and there were cacti directly behind them. Now you
don't see
that everyday!

Snorkeling here proved to be even
more rewarding than our first snorkel of the day. At first I thought it was amazing to be
swimming right next to a rock with a big sea lion sleeping on it. Imagine how excited I was when I was snorkeling and saw myself
swimming with a couple of sea lions! Well, I wasn’t so much ‘swimming with them’ as I was ‘watching them’. But still. It’s all the
same. But things kept getting better when a white tipped reef shark made an appearance for us. And then another one did a bit
later on. And these were big guys. Easter Bunnies are kid stuff next to my wonderful Easter Sharks. And the icing on the cake was
when I ventured off (not on purpose – I didn’t really even realize that I got a bit lost from everyone else with the way that they
ocean was pushing me) and saw a lone little guy swimming. It wasn’t a fish though. It was a sea turtle! I called the troops over and
we all got to enjoy the little guy.

Tonight we had a great time at dinner. I love being with a small, intimate group. We got through the ‘getting to know you’ stuff on
the first night and now it feels like we are hanging out with old friends. It really does. Almost like this boat was chartered just for us.
Anyway, everybody now knows that I journal every day of my trip onto a website. I also told them that I have met some painful
people in the past (like when I volunteered with pandas in China). Now they think that every conversation we have will be open to
me criticizing them on my website. Now these people are not to be criticized at all.
However, I can’t let them down by not sharing a
few of the conversations we had tonight at dinner. Let the record state that they very well knew what was at stake when they were
talking about these things!

Scott and Kirk were talking about their little baby – Charlie – who is a maltipoo. A very unique maltipoo as it is a dark brown color.
We saw the pictures. He is quite the looker. They could score quite the females with this little guy. If only they were into females…

But Scott was talking about stories where they were trying to get little Charlie trained. My favorite was when they hired ‘The
Doggie Dominatrix’ to knock him into shape. In the end, she had to knock them into shape by calling them wusses for letting their
dog control them. Seriously dying of laughter at this point.

Then Deb was talking about her and Vic’s relationship with their dog. Deb was doing most of the talking. I am sure that Vic didn’t
want some of this stuff to get out (like the fact that he built a big doghouse for their dog complete with shelves that hold framed
pictures of them for their dog to look at). But this was good stuff. We kept wanting more. And Deb kept giving it. The stories ended
with Deb contacting a dog psychic to find out about certain behavioral traits (note to all: the doggie psychic was a bust).

Who knew stories about pets could be so damn funny?
Back to Ecuador.
From the top of Bartolome.
The Galapagos penguin.
A little sea lion pup.