(In nearby Guasave today for internet!! Photos galore coming--check Buzznet. Actually, Buzznet is acting up, so check Flickr for photos.)
Yesterday I had an awesome opportunity. Our camp neighbor, Celine from Quebec, told me she was going to take a tour of Bird Island. We took a ride in a panga (small fishing boat) to an island that is a nature preserve. Gustavo, the owner of Mr. Moro's where we are staying in Los Glorias, was our tour guide. There were 13 people in the little boat; some of the other passengers wondered what the US Coast Guard would say about the boat's capacity and lack of life preservers. But Gustavo (Tavo) assured us he's been taking people out on these tours for 3 years and hasn't lost anyone yet! It was a little sketchy at first, but they obviously know what they are doing and they didn't want to have to swim any more than the rest of us did. This is our captain with the panga:Tavo has exclusive rights to take tourists to Bird Island and only 20 people are allowed to go every day. It is one hour to the island. We walked around the island, got incredibly close to many many birds (herons, friggets, pelicans, etc.). It was awesome. No way you could do something like this in the US, with regulations and all. Then we got in the panga and went to Shell Island for lunch. Millions of shells! And a crab.
They are really trying to build up the tourist industry here. Tavo said most of the $$ we pay for the tour will go to the small fishing village where the pangas are. They don't have electricity or potable water or anything and they live in shacks. I was very grateful to have the experience and I told Keith that Tavo said fishing excursions are also available and cheap.
This morning we got up before sunrise and Keith went to the showers. Lazlo and I went down to the beach and saw 2 fish that had washed up on shore. One was like a catfish, it had been chomped by something, his back half was missing. It was only 6" or so. And a puffer-looking fish, about 10-12" long. And then I saw the dolphins as the sun was coming up. Swimming just out past where the waves were breaking, I could see their fins in the water and then one jumped completely out of the water! It was so great. A few more jumps and then they just swam and swam. I could watch them for hours.