Basilica, view from the stairway (Joan Curti)
At Santa Fe we arrived to a beach with much younger sea lions than we had previously seen. They were much more energetic, playing with each other, and quite curious about who the visitors to their beach were. On a hike, the giant cactus like plants (opuntias) stood out like sentries all over the island and we spotted many yellowish land iguanas blending in with the rocks. They are much bigger than I thought, many about two feet long from nose to tip of their tail. We found one munching on one of their favorite foods, opuntia. When another approached, it was chased off – boy, can they move fast. Beautiful little yellow warblers dotted the bushes. We wondered how many pictures we needed to take of one little yellow bird before we got a whole bird picture with it’s head looking toward the camera. The answer is about 20 tries. This is our first vacation without our 35 mm film camera and we both are happy that we did not drag it along. We are up to 1,800 pictures – somethings bound to be great!
On the landing at South Plazas, Galo had to coax a sea lion off the steps. He was not to be moved, so we climbed the rocks. It looked like a flat piece of rock tipped up at an angle and covered with rocks, low-lying bushes tinted red and yellow, with giant opuntias littered throughout. We climbed the short hill and were stopped in our tracks by the 360° view. Steep cliffs, land iguanas, yellow warblers, swallow-tailed gulls, pelicans, cactus finches, lava gulls, sea lions, and red-billed tropic birds, their screeches almost drowned out by the blowing wind. Sometimes the spray from the ocean would reach the top of the cliff. We looked down into the ocean just off shore and saw hundreds of neon green colored yellow-tailed mullet churning up the water. We stopped often, and savored another 360° view. A sea lions skeleton rested near the cliff top edge, where after a shark bite it came to die, and three years later is only bleached bones. When it was time to leave the island I wanted to stay right where I was.
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