Day 101 - November 11th

Today was our scuba day! We showed up at 8:30 (Ecuadorian time, of course) and found that another guy was going to come with us, Iain. Perfect! The more the merrier. As we were doing paperwork and getting our gear sized up, two other guys (Ed and Will) showed up from a night bus and wanted to dive too. Suddenly, the boat was full!

Ally, our guide, led us towards the dive boat along the beach. Once in the boat, we spent an hour driving out to Isla de la Plata (the island of the silver), aka the poor person's Galapagos. The island was super cool looking - a dead looking island covered in bird poop, with steep cliffs and lots of frigate birds. Apparently, the history of the island is kind of neat too. It started out as a pirate hideout way back in the day, which is one of the theories as to how it got its name (the other theory is the silver-white colour of the bird poop). After that, it became a private island, and a building on it was used as a hotel for rich travellers. After that, the government took it and turned it into a national park, using the hotel as a visitor centre.

At our first dive site, we got a quick pre-dive briefing, geared up, and jumped in. The water was a nice warm 26° at depth... Can't complain! At the bottom, there was lots of life to see. Colourful fish everywhere, eels, and great visibility - 15 to 20 metres! Lots of cool stuff to explore, and lots of fun. And I wasn't even an air hog like normal!

After the dive, we got back in the boat and went to another dive site. We had a break for lunch and decompression, and discussed the next dive. Meanwhile, a fishing boat nearby was cleaning fish and throwing the offcuts into the water. This brought the turtles in droves! There were a few staying near our boat hoping for scraps from us too. They were so curious!

After our break, we got back in the water for dive two. This one was much better than the first one. The bottom was covered in hard coral, will all sorts of nooks and crannies for animals to hide. We swam with the turtles for a while, watching them wake up or start sleeping, and seeing the cleaner fish eating the stuff off of them. Super neat! Some small sting rays swam around us, accompanied by all sorts of tropical fish. We saw several moray eels hiding in the coral, as well as these cool eels that looked a lot like sea snakes that were ripping around the sandy bottom. A few large parrot fish showed their faces too, and apparently it was spawning season, so we got to see a couple of them spraying the eggs! We also saw a fight between a fish guarding its eggs and several others trying to eat them. It was awesome!

After getting out of the water and the hour boat ride back to the mainland, we were all exhausted. It was time for a siesta. A quick break refreshed us all for supper, when the whole dive crew met up again. After a quick bite to eat, we wandered until we found a weird looking bar and stopped for a local Ecuadorian style drink. The next stop was some random guy's street booth that served questionable alcohol from weird looking bottles. One of the guys from the UK took the chance and sampled it for the rest of us... We then took our drinks to the beach and sat with some locals for a beach fire. What a fun way to end the day!

Partial photo credit to Edward Wibberly

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