Blue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & Chocolate

A Story about Boobies (of the Blue-Footed Variety)

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The most fun I had while on this May’s Enrichment Voyage wasn’t on the guided tour—though those all were brilliant, as well—but rather the impromptu water taxi ride many of us took later on the evening of our only full day in the Galapagos Islands.

Water taxi ride | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateWe had been told by our guides that for around $5 a person, we could hire one of the many taxis docked in downtown Puerto Ayora to take us along the fringe of Santa Cruz Island where the real wildlife could be seen. So we did. While we had mingled with our share of tortoises—the late Lonesome George included—all of us had yet to see the Galapagos Islands’ other icon. Yes, I’m talking about the booby.

Blue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateIf you’ve never been to the Galapagos Islands, you should know that Puerto Ayora is peppered with storefront after storefront of the same old tourist kitsch (not unlike Panama City, Florida). Lonesome George and booby apparel occupy probably 90 percent of the merchandise. It’s pretty humorous actually, and even some of our most refined trip participants left the island outfitted in booby wear. I had to refrain from buying an “I saw boobies!” hat while there; I don’t think it would have gone with my wardrobe of dresses.

Blue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateOur first blue-footed booby sighting occurred not three minutes after we left the port. They’re everywhere along the craggy rocks that flank the perimeter of Puerto Ayora. Like the sloth in Panama, the booby is just downright funny looking. He has these wild eyes and a head that cranes straight up into the air and rotates side to side like a dashboard bobble-head doll.

Blue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateBlue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateAfter we “oohed” and “ahhed” at his bright blue feet, and took plenty of snaps, we cruised off again into the creeping darkness. At that point, the motor began to sputter and die, as our littleΒ  speed boat unexpectedly shut down—right at the break where the waves were a good 10 feet tall. Uh-oh. We laughed nervously, hoping we weren’t going to have to call the Ecuadorian equivalent of the Coast Guard. I was already starting to feel the effects of seasickness among the crashing surf even though I had taken Bonine prior to our trip out to sea.

Water taxi ride | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateBut then an angel in the form of another water taxi appeared, and it happened to be carrying several others from our group. They brought us gas and ensured that we weren’t going to be shark bait off the island of Santa Cruz. Even better, it was transporting the parents, Pam and Karl, of one of our group, Hanna. “I’m 25 years old, and my mom and dad are still having to bail me out!” she sighed. As Pam and Karl laughed and explained to their driver that Hanna was their “hija,” their driver got excited and pointed to our driver: “es my padre!” So I guess the bailing out works both ways!

Water taxi ride | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateOur booby days weren’t over, though. We continued on our way along the coast, where pairs of boobies were scattered among the volcanic terrain.

Blue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateBlue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & ChocolateWe continued to seek out the boobies until the lingering sunlight was no more, they began to retreat to their homes and it was time for us, too, to turn in for the evening.

Blue-footed booby | Galapagos Islands | Camels & Chocolate

(Tip: If hiring a water taxi driver in the Galapagos Islands, be sure and negotiate the price before you go. We learned that the hard way on our first attempt. $5 to $6 a person for a two-hour ride is pretty standard if you have a full boat, so don’t let your driver charge you any more than that!)

COMMENTS
  • July 19, 2012
    SVV

    I heart boobies.

  • July 19, 2012

    Sounds like fun. I love being on the water. That moment of “that’s my daughter,” and, “oh, that’s my dad,” must have been a funny one. You mentioned your wardrobe of dresses. Do you only wear dresses?

    • July 19, 2012

      Yes I do! Around 95 percent of the time unless I’m, say, working out or going on a hike or doing something else outdoors-y. I’ve been this way since childhood; my mom says she never could get me in jeans. Honestly, it’s not a formal”or high-maintenance thing, but I just find dresses so much more comfortable, plus easier to pack–they take up way less space and are an entire outfit than a pair of pants/shorts, top, etc.

  • July 19, 2012

    Every since I watched video of these blue-footed boobies in my ornithology class I’ve wanted to see them in real time. The Galapagos is already on my list, so I truly look forward to this adventure.

    • July 19, 2012

      I have decided in my next life I will return as either an ornithologist or a marine biologist (or a combination of the two?). I still think you should apply to an Enrichment Voyage as a lecturer; you could go in the off-season (the December voyage) and be a great addition to one of the more wildlife-focused trips.

      • July 19, 2012

        Seems like I’d have to know more about the wildlife in the area being traveled to. But I’m still keeping it in mind. This winter Costa Rica.

  • July 19, 2012

    Just when I think there’s nothing new to see in the world of boobies, you go and show me blue ones πŸ™‚ Funny thing, I was just reading Success Magazine today and they had a little story on the Galapagos Islands featuring the giant tortoises and the blue footed boobies. But they should totally have you writing, as your stories are far superior!

    • July 20, 2012

      See, now you never need to go to an adult superstore again! You can just head to the Galapagos Islands for your booby fix instead πŸ˜‰

  • July 19, 2012

    You had me at boobies! πŸ˜‰ Actually, they really are super cute birds. I like the way their beak sorta-kinda matches their feet.

    • July 20, 2012

      They are quite fashionable in their color coordination. I dig it. I’m all about neutrals with a pop of color these days (particularly in planning out our new home)–looks like the booby was a trendsetter far before it was trendy.

  • July 20, 2012

    There’s definitely something compelling about a bird with blue feet. I wonder if there’s some evolutionary reason why it’s feet are blue?

    My younger daughter wants to wear dresses all the time – absolutely refuses to wear jeans. So I guess you’re telling me this may not change. πŸ™‚

    • July 20, 2012

      Yep, she’s in good company, ha. Hey, it could be worse–she could walk around in sweats and hoodies all the time! At least you never have to be embarrassed by her appearance!

  • July 20, 2012

    What a great site! I’ll definitely be following your adventures with a touch of envy!

    • July 20, 2012

      Why thank you! I will have to check you out, as well =)

  • July 20, 2012

    Ahh, the boobies are so cute. Thanks for making the clarification in this story’s headline. I couldn’t stop laughing while reading this post.

    • July 20, 2012

      I’m glad someone got a kick out of it at least–I’ve never had the opportunity before to use the word “booby” 10 times in one blog post πŸ˜‰

  • July 22, 2012

    Eee! Those are cute pictures of the birds. They have so much personality!

    • July 26, 2012

      I am rethinking all of those times I (internally) thought birds were lame. Panama, Costa Rica and the Galapagos completely changed my mind. I think I could make a mighty fine ornithologist (in my next life).

  • July 25, 2012

    I love blue-footed boobies. My favorites were the babies who slept on their poop covered rocks. I also passed on the touristy merchandise, although some of the slogans did make me laugh.

    • July 26, 2012

      I didn’t see any babies! I want my money back! (Kidding obviously, as my employer footed the bill, but I *would* like to go back and see them!)

  • July 25, 2012

    Love the boobies, they are so nice and cute :))))))))))

    • July 26, 2012

      And they have the best name ever to say, right? πŸ˜‰

  • July 27, 2012

    This is so cute!! Love boobies!!

  • July 27, 2012

    Seriously their feet are the prettiest blue I have EVER seen!

  • July 28, 2012

    Beyond hilarious, girl… I can’t wait to see what searches lead to your blog because of this lol. That blue doesn’t look real!!

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