We arrived in San Cristobal a few days ago via two very smooth boat rides (thankfully for me). The first thing you notice here is that there are sea lions EVERYWHERE. On the pontoon where you get off the boat, on the pier, on the sidewalks, on the boardwalk that has probably never seen a human foot as the sea lions claimed it on completion. The smell is not all that pleasant as they bake in the sun and poop wherever they want… especially, it seems, where I tend to walk. Last night when we were eating dinner we saw a huge sea lion just taking an evening stroll down the sidewalk next to the restaurant.
The day after we arrived we headed out to a beach called La Loberia where there is supposed to be a “sea lion refuge”, but we actually only saw one lone lion – we assume that’s because they much prefer to hang out in town on the boardwalk and watch all of the humans go by. We did, however, have a snorkel and see loads of very cute sea turtles who stare at you as much as you stare at them. Liam got some surf in as well before the rain started coming down and we headed back for a lazy afternoon.
Yesterday I had yet another “best day ever”. Pete and I headed out to dive at Kicker Rock – a huge rock formation sticking out of the middle of the ocean not too far from the main port. The first dive was great – lots of fish, white tip sharks, octopus, turtles, and apparently some hammerheads went by but I was looking elsewhere (as I tend to do). It was one of the toughest dives I’ve done yet as the water was absolutely freezing in parts and the current was super strong. At some points you would be kicking your hardest but still going backwards and then the current would change and you would fly forwards at pace. Some times the swell would be so strong that I’d get knocked sideways or backwards into a nice sharp rocks.
The setting where we dove against the rock was amazing. All you can see is the rock on your left going up as far as you can see and down and down until the ocean swallows it into black. On your right there were just thousands of fish and the odd school of sharks or turtle swimming by and then nothing but bright blue ocean. At our deepest you couldn’t see the surface of the water, so you would look up and only see bright blue and then the shadow of a shark swimming across the top of you that looked like it was in the sky surrounded by thousands of fish.
After lunch we did our second dive which has been the coolest dive I’ve done to date. We still didn’t see any hammerheads, but we had a sea lion come and befriend us at the start of the dive and hang around for about 15 minutes, leaving us every couple of minutes to go and grab some air. It was the most playful sea lion I’ve seen yet, probably because he was in his own domain, playing with our air bubbles, doing backflips just above our heads, swimming along side us to take a look. He seemed to really like Pete, who actually manage to stroke his belly as he swam past.
We also had a really funny moment where we were coming around a corner just as a turtle was coming the other way. It saw us coming and it was like you could actually see us register on the turtles face. It was like “Oh shit, they’ve seen me!!!” and it turned around and swam off into the blue as quickly as possible like a little kid that has just been scared. There was 3 or so turtles as we came around the corner, one which was definitely not as scared as the last who came to within a foot of Pete to check him out. I swear they are just as inquisitive as us. All in all a very cool dive.