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One might say each day's wildlife viewing is better than the last. When you are distracted from diving cormorants by a school of sting rays and then distracted from them by swimming penguins and after that, following one sea turtle, find yourself surrounded by four, no, ten, no twenty, no upwards of a hundred endangered green sea turtles, you feel all maturity, all reserve, all skepticism explode away until you are nothing but a babbling, credulous, all-receiving child.

And so it was at Punta Vicente Roca this afternoon. Afterwards we shivered happily on deck, clutching and spilling our hot chocolates. Everyone gushed as if, finally able to remove our snorkels, all our amazement had been uncorked. People related stories of cormorants tugging on flippers, biting arms, penguins luring swimmers to the middle of the bay and then shooting off, turtles cornering people such that they couldn't turn around without touching several. The abundance was unfathomable, beautifully grotesque. We laughed at our previous selves, excited by a solitary sea turtle. These turtles were so close we stared them eye to eye, examined the green algae growing on their shells, felt a rough flipper graze our hand, recognized an expression of faint irritation. It was an odd sensation hovering above them in the cold water, surrounded and yet solitary. I wondered if they felt the same, for we typically see them traveling alone and even together they did not much socialize. They seemed a grouchy, indifferent type of animal, accustomed to the echo of their own slow thoughts. Yet here they all were. We felt gluttonous.

Thank you, I remembered to think at the end. Just--thank you.

Posted by chschen 02.14.2013 16:00 Archived in Ecuador

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