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Cerro Brujo and Kicker Rock

Cerro Brujo.  This is what is left of a tuff cone.  (That is where the lava enters a very cold ocean, causing an explosion.  It creates a different shape.)  This is also one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin.  The sun came out for our visit here, which was welcome.  We rode the dinghies along the cliff face, giving us only an indication to the enormity of the place.  They drove us into a giant canyon they called the Cathedral…maybe because people pray they will survive???  Only a photo with other little dingy can even remotely portray the size of this place!  It dwarfed us!
The Cathedral--see our tiny boat???
The Cathedral--see our tiny boat??? (Staci Edwards)

The surf beat against the stone, and I tried to imagine how water could ever have enough power to change its surface.  We also got to boat through an amazing rock channel as well.  So, we went to church, and then to the beach, a perfect Sunday!  And what a gorgeous beach!  Waters of an indescribable turquoise.  Beautiful white sand.  Black volcanic rocks cradling the shoreline.  The waves were strong, but well worth the effort to swim here because of the company.  We were joined by more sea lions, ready to play. (Snorkeling, not as good…the churning sand made for bad visibility.)  The sea lions seemed to watch us as much as we observed them.  They floated just below the surface, eye level, and I swear, I could see an intelligence there.  It also seemed to me that they enjoyed being so much more aerodynamic and agile under the sea.  I wondered if they had a name for us, and if it was a sea lion synonym for “slow, klutzy, oxygen-hungry bipeds with really interesting toys.” (Sea lions have been known to use an iguana as a toy, tossing it and chasing it, although experts claim that they don’t hurt them…) An American oyster catcher male and female escorted their fuzzy, grey chick, searching for food. 

American Oyster-catcher and chick
American Oyster-catcher and chick (Staci Edwards)

Preening quite conveniently with Kicker Rock in the background, a blue-footed booby gave us the postcard worthy shot.  Other seabirds that joined the party: sanderling, lava gull, Galapagos flycatcher, pelican and petrel.  An occasional marine iguana sunned itself on the lava rocks.  I set up my iPhone on a tripod to do a time lapse of the sea lions and surf, and one curious gal came up and inspected my phone!  (Click here to view!)
Blue-footed booby and Kicker Rock
Blue-footed booby and Kicker Rock (Staci Edwards)

Kicker Rock is actually two volcanic rocks, the remains of a tuff cone, that jut up from the sea.  Apparently it is named Kicker Rock because from one side it looks like a boot.  The Spanish name, Leon Dormido, comes from the opinion that from another angle, it looks like a sleeping lion.  Our visit was a memorable one. The seas were rough.  So much so that after I bailed out of the dingy, the guide in the other boat decided to start us snorkeling on the OTHER side of the island, so they had to haul me back up over the side!  Not so dignified, but pretty amusing. But, rough seas and all, it was well worth the effort!  We pretty much circumnavigated the island.  The vertical plane of the cliff housed colorful anemones, and barnacles.  Urchins hid in indentions, and fish hugged the walls.

Several sea turtles appeared from the blue, and then faded back into the depths.  (Fun Green sea turtle fact:  The algae they eat results in green body fat.)  Two black tipped reef sharks made their presence known.  A male sea lion cruised on by, so close to Jaime we affectionately dubbed it ‘body surfing’.  Two playful teenage sea lions shot up from the deep so quickly they almost didn’t register until after they had darted away.  Tiny juvenile Salina schooled just below the surface, resembling little orbs of mercury more than fish.  The bubbles were mesmerizing.  Magic.  Pure magic.  A very large Bullseye pufferfish swam below us like a football with fins.  We were allowed to enter the channel between the two rocks, where the depth is about 60 feet. It is here that it is rumored that hammerhead shark lurk.  We were unable to confirm or deny that rumor.  (No sightings.)   The light filtered down and highlighted thousands of tiny, almost transparent fishes. It was very choppy waters here, so we didn’t swim the whole distance. (While I describe difficult seas on this trip, they are manageable.  I don’t wish to scare you off—just provide information.  It was amazing to me how the surface could be so rough, but if I put my face down in the water and just relaxed, the waves just rocked me along with them.  And my snorkel never got sea water splashed into it.  Breathing was never a problem.  But sometimes getting from place to place was more work, that was for sure!)
View through Kicker Rock
View through Kicker Rock (Staci Edwards)

After another lovely meal, we observed a manta ray from the boat, and a breathtaking sunset.  We were building up to a Supermoon, and with all the extra light we got an extraordinarily spectacular view of the islands, the shimmering sea and the frigate birds riding the air current of the boat. 

We traveled to town on San Cristobal, to deliver our guide, Tommy, and pick up another.  His contract was up.  It gave us a chance to grab a little shopping, as most of our stops are completely uninhabited!   The main street is lined with little shops offering a variety of interesting souvenirs.  A few postcards, a t-shirt and an old-fashioned style Galapagos map I used as an art piece from the trip!  To see other maps I painted on the last voyage, click here. And here.

More great photos in the album!

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