Early last year when I told my family that I would be moving to Ecuador, my cousin-in-law Leslie was so excited, she immediately looked it up on her phone while I was there and proceeded to regale us with facts about Ecuador. One of the things she read that I had yet to learn about was a bird that is indigenous to the area called the Blue-footed Booby. Every time I saw Leslie after that, she expressed her excitement over my adventure and that I would get to see the Blue-footed Booby – so Leslie, this one is for you!
The town I live in is just north of one of Ecuador’s national parks – Machalilla National Park. We drive through it frequently on the way to Puerto Lopez, but also included as part of the park is a near-by island called Isla de la Plata (Silver Island). Thursday was Rick’s next to the last day with us before he returned to Canada, so we decided to go on an island tour. On most days, the island is visible faintly in the distance from our shoreline, but it is over an hour’s boat ride from nearby Puerto Lopez, where the tours depart. The island is also known as “The Poor Man’s Galapagos,” because it is easier to reach, the tours are less expensive and you can find some of the same species of plants and birds there. Its name comes from when Sir Francis Drake occupied the island and, legend has it, dumped a load of silver off its coast (it is also sometimes known as Drake Island).
Our day started at 8:00 a.m. when we took a motor-taxi to the bus stop and a bus to Puerto Lopez, then checked into our tour, walked to the pier and took the boat ride to the island. Upon arrival, they offered us the option to snorkel off the boat and most people did, but I decided to pass on this opportunity, since we still had a long day ahead. Afterwards, we went on a hike of the island, looking at all the plants, amazing views and enjoying several sightings of the Blue-footed Booby. We were fortunate that we came at the beginning of the rainy season, so we were able to see things green and blooming (they said normally the vegetation is dry and dead looking) and we were also there during the season when the birds were nesting! This was so great, because although they live on the island year round, they only nest at the top. We also saw several parents with their young (the male and female both hunt food and parent the offspring) and even some on their nests! It was amazing because they would be right beside our walking trails and we would walk right past them and they would not move from their spot! At the end of our hike, we returned to our boat where we were fed lunch before our return ride to the pier. The entire island trip lasted 7 hours, but it did not seem that long to me (although parts of the hike were very hot and humid with no breeze, reminiscent of our wonderful Texas summers!)
After riding the bus back to Puerto Cayo, we all went out for dinner to our new favorite restaurant. It was a long, but very fun day and all throughout I kept thinking “I can’t believe I get to LIVE here!” Here is a slide show of some of the highlights of the day: