Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Three-Hour Tour

The thing to do when your boat is tethered to a small buoy in sight of guano-spattered offshore islands in the Bay of Banderas is to jump off the side. At least that's what I did, because I was dressed for it. I got a first-hand, full-body experience of the chilly California Current. It was a cold dip, but after moving around for a few minutes, it was still pretty cold. So those of us who went in the water only took short swims.

I've never had any hankering to own a boat. Maybe that's because, long ago, I heard boat ownership described as the equivalent of throwing money into the water. But I'm glad to catch occasional rides on them. As a break from property visits and real estate discussions, we spent part of an afternoon on a Sea Ray boat. Not sure which model, but I think it was one of the sport yachts: big enough to carry six passengers and three crew without any of us falling over each other while hanging out toward the stern drinking beer or lying around in the sun near the bow.

The small, chalky islands were busy seabird cities. I can't remember the last time I'd seen so many birds in one place, though there was a noticeable lack of the kind of gulls I'm used to seeing. No doubt other varieties were represented. I looked around for blue-footed boobies, whose feet are indeed blue, but I didn't see anything quite like the pictures I've seen. National Geographic claims that the "bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate," and I believe it. If that were true for human beings, there would be an entire complicated and expensive and socially significant industry devoted to foot-bluing.

But ornithology isn't something I ever took up. Blue-footed boobies could have had their own villas on those islands and I might have missed them. I did notice, however, that some seabirds fly in V formation, something I associate with geese. Off in the water, we spotted dolphins jumping from time to time, but saw no whales. We were told that it's a little late in the season for them.

One thing about a seabird city -- birds have no use for sanitation, and probably no conception of it. At one point the guano smell was so intense, especially when mixed with the strong smell of brine, that one of our party had to cover her nose and mouth for a little while.

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