This is a remarkable island. In all senses of the word, it stands out as unusual, amazing, unreal. At daybreak the captain took the ship into the large crater known as Darwin’s Bay. This is where the crust of the island collapsed into the magmatic chamber, allowing the ocean to rush in. We have no idea about the time frame of when this happened. The center of the bay lies more than 600 feet deep, whereas around the outside of the island it is barely over 100 feet.
Over a million birds call Genovesa home: red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, great frigatebirds, large cactus finches, sharp-beaked ground finches, warbler finches, large ground finches, red-billed tropicbirds, brown noddy terns, short-eared owls, herons, shorebirds, and the list goes on.
The morning was spent on land, either visiting Darwin Bay trail or “Prince Philip’s Steps” – both have trails that take you through a world so different from what we know, almost like parallel universes. One leads you through a palo santo forest of incense trees, over slabs of clinkery lava, to a view over a vast ocean, where storm petrels and short-eared owls play out their roles of predator-and-prey. The other wanders over bright white coralline sand and mangrove trees where red-footed boobies nest at eye-level and swallow-tailed gulls nest underfoot.
Of course the marine environment calls for attention with greater and greater insistence as the temperatures rise under an equatorial sun. Snorkeling was beyond anyone’s expectations: manta rays and sharks, fur seals and parrotfish.
The kayaks had their moments of peace and calm, until mid-afternoon saw them used in a race where team names such as the “pink-footed boobies” competed against the “dynamic duo.”
By sunset everyone was back, and when we left the bay we were rested, changed and ready for the departure from the bay, looking towards the crossing of the equator after dinner.
It seems remarkable that one week has gone by so quickly. We need more hours in the day, or more days in the week…or perhaps just simply to return for another trip?