An iguana on its way to the cooking pot

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 6 Feb 2010 20:38
We arrived at Contadora from Flamenco marina around 2pm and dropped our
anchor in a bay not far from the local airport. En-route we had been visited
by two dolphins but of a variety which was new to us.
Contadora is the most developed island within the archipelago of the Islas
Las Perles and this was emphasised by the number of flights. The planes are
not very big but we did find them intrusive so were pleased to move on the
next morning.
There was less than 5 knots of wind as we made passage to Ampora, a journey
of just under five nautical miles. We had planned to arrive a couple of
hours before low water to ensure that there was sufficient water over the
reef for us to enter the bay.
A large canoe, powered by an outboard engine and towing a smaller canoe,
passed by us early evening and made its way across the bay where it spent
the night, probably fishing. This supposition is based on the presence of
two other large canoes, closer to land than us, which were in position
around 6am next morning and were still there when we left the anchorage
about 9am.
The water, as at Contadora, was cooler than we had been swimming in recently
and there was quite a strong current. The water was green, full of plankton,
which was apparent from the masses of fish there seem to be in this part of
the ocean.
The sea birds appeared to just look at the spray and picked a fish out of
the water. One supposes that the fish were skimming the surface to avoid
predators below. It was like a self service restaurant.
Pelicans sitting on the surface resembled turkeys from a distance, they were
so large.
There was just sufficient wind for us to sail, using our parasailor, to San
Jose where we anchored in the bay next to the cave on which is perched a
hut, made famous by a pilot book which tells us that a man sits here
We took the rib to the cave but there was nobody fishing from above. We took
the rib ashore and as we tried to pull it up the white, sandy beach, it was
swamped by a wave. It took twenty minutes using a hose, to wash out all the
sand deposited in the rib, when we got back to the boat.
The steep path from the beach was overgrown but on reaching the top, there
is a road, partially metalled with palm trees growing along each side. There
was a house, or rather more of a shack which perhaps might have been where
the owner of the island resided when he was here, and an airstrip. There was
also a field which looked as though it had been cultivated.
These islands are so unlike those at San Blas and stand higher out of the
water. They are heavily wooded with all types of trees and vegetation.
Although there are a few palm trees, they are very much in the minority.
It seems strange to think that we are now in the Pacific ocean.
We raised the mainsail while still at anchor and sailed to Isla Del Rey,
anchoring at the mouth of the Rio Cacique. In the next bay from our
anchorage an Indian village stood on the shore. There were several small
boats on the beach and a couple in the water.
After lunch, when the tide was at one quarter, we took the rib towards the
sandbar blocking our entrance to the river. Within minutes, the tide had
raised the water sufficiently for us to start moving into the river,
occasionally getting stuck on a sandbar or a rock. After half an hour of
rowing, punting and dragging the rib, we had sufficient water below us and
the tide was taking us up river at three knots. We must have traveled a
couple of miles through the mangroves, passing two boats which had been tied
up there by the local Indians. We tried to photograph large birds which
resembled egrits but they continuously flew to the next tree top, hiding
behind the foliage.
Eventually there was enough water below us to use the engine and at three
quarter tide, we turned round. The water was now covered with large blobs of
foam and other debris.
The pelicans were amazing. One minute they were sitting, like fat turkeys,
on the water. The next they were flapping their wings and flying to around
10metres above sea level. Then, like an arrow, they plunged, beak first,
into the water to catch a fish. This continued for hours.
At 8am next morning we had left the anchorage and with not much wind, we
motorsailed to Isla Canas on the eastern side of Isla Del Rey. There was
just one metre below us as we crossed the bar into the anchorage where six
other WARC boats were already at anchor.
Bristol Rose was scheduled to do the WARC net this morning but as they were
just outside of Flamenco marina, they asked us to do it for them, which we
graciously did.
We took the rib ashore and as we became close to the sand beach, Dick
lowered the wheels at the back of the rib, so that we would be able to wheel
the heavy boat far enough away from the tidal water. In the process of
dropping the wheels, his finger was caught and he fell into the water. When
he raised his hand, it was bleeding and the top of the finger was black and
blue. There is no question that he will lose the nail.
Two children ran through the trees to the beach to meet us and asked us, in
Spanish, if we wanted lemons. They then guided us to their village where we
bought two large fish and six lemons, which the young woman tending the
shop, picked from a tree behind the small houses. The fish was stored in a
huge green bin, reminiscent of those that stand at street corners in Spain
and at supermarkets in the UK, ready for collecting household rubbish. The
fish was packed in ice and covered by a tarpaulin.
As we followed the children through the trees and undergrowth, we passed an
Indian who had an iguana on a lead. I asked if I could touch it and when he
assented, stroked its head. The creature was totally docile. Imagine my
horror when I realized that the iguana was not a pet on a lead. It was held
by its tail and was en-route to the cooking pot!
On passage, next morning, to Bahia Pinas, mainland Ecuador, a journey just
short of sixty nautical miles, we passed many dolphins. At first, we didn't
realize what they were, only a fin showing above the water but eventually,
we did see what were attached to the fins. Few of the dolphins approached
the boat and those that did moved on immediately. We saw a few jump from the
water but not around the boat. One pod of maybe a dozen, were very small.
We saw lots of fish, as well as flying fish, scoot across the water or jump
out of the water, making themselves available to any passing bird.
We arrived at our anchorage just as the sun was setting. The cicada were
making their presence heard and even before we had set the anchor, three or
four small canoes, propelled by women, approached us to offer us pottery,
jewellery, etc.

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