Before heading back into civilization, we took a short walk on a trail through a lava field were we saw white-tipped sharks resting in a trough created by a lava wall. We walked to a nesting site where we saw lots of female iguanas fighting for nesting sites. They open their mouth and pant and hiss at each other. It is quite comical.
Then we went into Puerto Villamil, a small town of about 2,000 inhabitants and bustling with tourists. It was quite the culture shock as we got out of the dinghies onto the dock! We got into vans which took us 26 kilometers up to the trail that we hiked to the top of Volcano Sierra Negra. There is much construction going on…cinder block buildings, road work, and activity everywhere.
The trail, steep in parts, took us through lush grasses and flowers, all quite small. There are few pollinators in the islands so many of the plants are self-pollinating or are pollinated by the wind. After about 40 minutes we were at the top, staring into a huge caldera. The last eruption was in 2005 across from where we stood. The vans were waiting for us when we descended and took us back to town where we got back in the dinghies and returned to the boat for lunch.
We went back to Puerto Villamil in the afternoon. We got on a "goat", which is an open truck with benches and were brought to some lagoons where flamingos, stilts and other water fowl can be routinely seen. Two of the flamingoes were white, indicating that they were young and had not her water fowl can be routinely seen. Two of the flamingoes were young and still white since they get their beautiful pink color from that they eat.
We were then delivered to the National Park's tortoise breeding and rearing center. Here there are separate walled in areas for tortoises of various ages. We arrived just in time to observe a pair mating. There is much grunting from the male and turning by the female with the male on top of her. We saw young tortoises and newborns, only 1 month old! The sex of the hatchling is determined by the temperature under which the eggs are gestated, the male slightly warmer than the female. They are able to develop more females for release into the wild.
We walked back into town along a trail which took us past the lagoon again, 1,000 steps (according to Angelika) through vegetation most of the way. We went to a bar on the beach where we had drinks, watched the waves, and enjoyed each other's company for our last afternoon together.
Back on the boat, we packed, had a farewell toast with the crew, had our last dinner together and retired early, fearing that we would have another rough night moving to Santa Cruz. To everyone's relief, it turned out to be a calm crossing.
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(Music: Constance by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0" http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/3.0/