The morning had been a very hot walk and my head was still pounding from the heat. The headache was compounded with the rolling of the ship as we sat in a harbor where huge swells just rolled in. We had been told in our briefing the night before that if we didn’t want to take the walk, we could sit in the restaurant area of the farm we were visiting and wait for our group to return. So the plan was for Bob to take the Canon along with his small Go Pro and go on the walk while I waited in the shade.
The bus ride to El Manzanillo was about twenty to thirty minutes and we got to see lots of farms with cows, banana trees, coffee trees, and other produce along the way. Santa Cruz had a lot more large trees than any of the other islands we had visited. Monica told us that some of them were from Australia and used for wood supply.
El Manzanillo is in an area called the Highlands. As we rode down the long narrow sandy graveled road, we passed several fields with cows and the occasional tortoise. At the end of the road, we came upon a large open sided building. When we exited the bus, we could see that we were up on a much higher plane and could look out over some rolling hills below us.
The restaurant area was all contained in the large structure. It had several seating areas of padded wooden furniture similar in design to wicker and lots of tables and chairs for guests to sit and enjoy a sampling of juices and fruit.
I sent Bob off with the group and I found a comfortable chair to sit and enjoy the cool breeze that blew through the sheltered area. One of the other reasons I didn’t go along I must confess was that they trekked through some grassy areas and after our encounter with a couple of snakes on the rocks, I knew that I would not enjoy the walk worrying about what might be lurking in the grass besides tortoises.
When the group returned about an hour later, many of them were picking green sticky pods off of their long pants. Bob had worn shorts (against the suggested long pants—he didn’t have any cool pants to wear, just jeans) and was lucky enough not to have scratched his legs. He did have some hitchhikers on his socks that we picked off. I suspect some of the other guests got into the grasses a little more than he did.
All in all, he enjoyed the walk and talked about the tortoises hissing at them as they went by. These were the first animals other than the sea lions who laid in our path on the pier that had shown any reaction to us. Someone snapped his picture with the largest tortoise they found and he took a few others along the way including a nice shot of a yellow moth right by the restaurant area.
Again, we did not shop for anything in town. Sorry to those at home who may have been expecting a souvenir. Instead, we opted to ride back to the ship and take our chances in the A/C on the rolling ship rather than stay on shore in the hot sun and humidity.
That evening instead of the usual briefing, we were treated to a slide show of photos taken by the naturalists of some of the things they saw on our excursions including some funny looking guests, cameras to their faces, bent over animals competing for the best angle.
In the morning, we would be putting on our zodiac life jackets one last time and going ashore. The crew would be preparing the ship for the newcomers—all who would need to be trained on wet landings and dry landings and snorkel procedures. I marveled at the patience and the kindness shown to all of us by the staff and crew. They were a small group who provided us with amazing service. Where else could we have gotten this kind of expedition with such luxury?