Day 7: A Whale of a Tale
By the Alpaca Dames and Llama Luis
If a picture paints a thousand words, then our experiences today would need at least a million. After a breakfast surrounded by a tropical forest of flowers in a dining room decked out with hand-crafted woodwork and Ecuadorian colors, we set off.
We boarded our boat along with Machalilla National Park Ranger Limber and headed out to Isla de la Plata. As our boat cut through the waves, it didn’t take long before we saw our first moment of “Wow,” as a humpback whale breached a mere 100 feet away.
Seventy or so minutes later, we arrived at the park where we were given a brief overview of the island’s trails and what we could expect to see. After climbing 150 steps to reach the top of the island, we observed blue-footed boobies, along with other fauna, as well as a myriad of flora. We saw how loofah grows on a vine, and Mary Ann and Luis were treated to a contemporary hairdo, thanks to the liquid produced by Moyuyo berries. Another interesting plant we saw is called Palo Santo tree and learned that its sap is used as a shampoo and twigs for incense.
Hiking along the top of the cliffs, we circled back, watching several pairs of blue-footed boobies as they displayed their unique mating rituals. Too soon for us, we returned to the boat, trawled about and witnessed numerous green sea turtles swimming around us. We also observed pelicans, red-billed tropic birds, frigate birds, and blue, red-footed and Nazca boobies circling the island. We had not traveled far before we observed another whale breaching. As our excitement rose, we spent considerable time following different pods, and were rewarded by multiple whale sightings, including one group that included a calf and swam within 20 feet of our boat. The captain quickly steered away from the whales to keep a safer distance.
After our amazing day, we were saddened to say “Goodbye” to Ecuadorian colleagues and friends, Luis and Adalberto as they departed to go back to their respective schools.