A Morning Shower and a Bedtime Bath

Wednesday, March 5

I woke up this morning in Bahia, not Canoa. When we got to the bus station last night, we were disappointed to hear that the night bus to Canoa was sold out. To the disappointment of all the ticket-holders, it was also AWOL. The bus never did show up, and all of us (with and without tickets) shuffled around to other bus companies. Brian, Aysha and I decided to hop a bus to a nearby town, Bahia, and make our way down to Canoa from there.

This morning we split a taxi to Canoa with a hula-hoop sporting, dreadlocked backpacker and felt uncool, but only for a second. Soon we were taking our morning shower in the ocean, and we felt as cool as can be.

I was starving, so I ate a pork bolón (green plantain ball) from a beachfront shack. Then we explored the beach itself, scrambling over boulders and trespassing along a little bluff-top path. It was fascinating to see how Ecuador’s coastal flora and fauna is similar to that of the Galápagos, but subtly different. There were cacti like the candelabras of Galápagos, but with fewer joints. Anis and flycatchers sang from the scrubby trees. I saw a saltbush (same species as the Galápagos) and a croton (different species). Overall, Canoa is generally much greener, and the vegetation is lusher than that of the Islands.

The highlight of the day was discovering the amazing snails. Wherever the water receded after a wave, the sand was dotted with slimy little antennae. I dug one up and found a small, smooth, pointy black snail. When I put the snail back on the wet sand, it immediately buried itself – just sank out of sight – until its body was underground and only its gelatinous filter-feeder arms were exposed.

Thousands of these guys littered the surf zone. I thought of the genetic code that allowed all these mollusks to behave the same way, and to feel at home in that specific position under the sand. I wonder if the snails move an up and down the beach with the tide? If so, do they move on the surface or under it? What is the view like from down there? How would it feel if a massive wall of frothy water descending over your head was the sweet sound of the dinner bell?

When I needed a break from the sunny, sandy beach, I set up my laptop at our hostel and applied to a couple jobs. (That sounds backward, doesn’t it?) I read my depressing, engrossing novel for a couple hours in a rented beach hammock, watched the sunset, and ate a typical $2.00 merienda dinner of breaded fish and rice.

Continuing the theme of spontaneity, my friends decided to go skinny-dipping in the ocean at midnight, and I was persuaded to join them. We were delighted to find that when we waved our arms underwater, the water lit up! Brian tried shaking his head underwater; when he surfaced, his beard was full of bioluminescent plankton. If I was more thrilled by glow-in-the-dark larvae than by swimming naked in the Pacific Ocean, I guess that’s just my inner nerd shining through.