January 6, 2006
The honeymoon is over. At least that's what they say when a new president has been in office for 100 days. Now that I've hit the century mark in my travels, is it time for me to stop having fun and start doing some hard work? Of course not! I'm going to keep moving and enjoy ever day as if it were my first.
Puerto Deseado is known for its large amount of sea life. Although there aren't many tourists in town, several companies operate boat tours to see the area animals. This afternoon, Jenny and I went on one of these tours, hoping to see penguins, sea lions, dolphins, and whatever other cute little wildlife we could get our eyes on.
We walked down to the harbor, where our tour would begin, and were loaded onto a small boat with about ten others. Our fearless captain first took us to an area that is home to a school of dolphins. We saw a few of them almost right away. Over and over again, the dolphins would swim up to us, run into the boat, and swim back away, as if we were playing a game with them. I think they won the game, however, because they never revealed themselves to us for more than one second before sinking back into the water for several minutes, making us completely unaware of their location. Trying to photograph them was almost useless, although I did manage to get a few pictures of their backs.
Next, we moved near an island containing hundreds of penguins. They waddled around, basked in the sun, and went into the water, without even noticing that we were there. I actually mistook them for ducks at first, because that's what they look like when they are swimming on top of the water. We only got to see the island for about ten minutes, but we were promised that we would see more penguins later. I began to salivate.
For our next stop, we went to a giant rock with a bunch of birds. Two varieties were represented, although their names have since slipped my mind. The first species had red legs, white necks, and white feathers mixed in with black on their backs. The other birds had white bellies, black backs, and red around their eyes.
After seeing the birds, we turned around and almost immediately were able to see a group of sea lions on another rock nearby. Most of them just sat around and acted very lazy, although they occasionally fought with each other and proclaimed themselves to be the queen of all sea lions. There were only two males mixed in with about two dozen females, which our guide explained was the ratio for optimal sea lion breeding. In fact, the females were all gathered around the larger and older male; the other one had to sit by himself. The unpopular small male probably wouldn't get a chance to breed until either he could beat up the bully, or much later in life when the females realized that his tremendous earning potential made the nerdy sea lion an attractive candidate for procreation.
Our last stop was also the highlight of our tour: The Island of the Birds. We docked our boat, walked onto the island, and saw that it was home to thousands of penguins. The penguins didn't play games like the dolphins. When we sat down, they waddled all around us. The constantly went into and out of the water, which made me chuckle every time I saw it. Penguins are almost useless on land. They can't fly, and they can barely walk. They are so slow, predators must be able to catch them easily. A lot of them resort to hiding under bushes to protect their eggs. Bus as soon as they hit the water, they become like torpedoes, dashing to and fro.
We sat around and watched the penguins for about an hour. They were among the cutest, most amusing little creatures I had ever seen. At one point, our guide pulled out a cup of mate for us to enjoy. Sitting on a beach, passing around the mate, and watching the penguins' antics was paradise for me. It was honestly one of the greatest points of my entire trip so far. The honeymoon may be over, but travel and I will continue to act just like newlyweds for a long time to come.
The photo album for this entry is here.