5 IN 1 FUN TOUR AT SALANGO ISLAND
After a restful sleep at Sol Inn in Puerto Lopez, we woke up in the dark at 5:30AM to begin our long anticipated fun trip at Salango Island. This 5 hour trip consisted of sports fishing, snorkling at the reef of Salango Island, kayaking, hiking, and bird-watching.
We took off on the boat at 6AM in order to have the best chance of catching large fish when they are most hungry early in the morning. The sun just appeared and the orange sky was a spectacular way to begin the morning.
This is the first time for all of us to do sports fishing, which is a type of fishing where the boat moves at a constant speed dragging a fake bait with hook. The moving of the fake bait makes it look as if it is really swimming. We had fun taking turn holding the 3 poles we had feeling the bait swimming in the ocean. When we got tired we could put the hole in a hole and just relax!
Along the way, the boat sailed by beautiful ocean rocks and rocky cliffs with many types of sea bird colonies. We saw many pelicans, frigate birds, blue footed boobies (famous in Galagopos), and a bird with red throat that it can blow into a large balloon! We called our trip the Poor Man`s Poor Man`s Galapagos because Galapagos would cost about USD 2000 per person which we can`t afford. Then there is another island here called Palata Island which would cost 2-3 times more, which we can`t afford. So our Salanga Island is our cheapest option!
Although we know that there is no guarantee that we`ll catch a fish, we all prayed to catch at least one just so that the experience is more complete. About 10 minutes after we started, Annie felt a big tug on her pole. She didn`t know what to do. But the time the captain told her to reel in the line, the fish was gone. After another long 30 minutes, the fish line on Olivia`s pole suddenly started to reel out signalling that a fish has been hooked and is pulling the line into the ocean. As we reeled in the line, we saw a good size fish coming in. We`re all so excited. It`s our first fish! It`s close to 2 feet long!
Now, we were even more excited and there was hope that we might be able to catch more fish. When the boat to the west side of the island, next to some rocks, Jon`s pole started to reel out into the ocean quickly. There was a huge fish. The fish apparently was swimming all around tangling the fish lines of Olivia and Annie, so they all had to first reel in their line. By the time the lines were untangled, the fish swam into some rock creavices and the fish line was cut by the rock, losing both the fake bait as well as the BIG FISH. We asked the captain how big he think it was, he just stretched out his arms and said a very BIG fish. Oh well, at least we had one fish...
After 2 hours of fishing, it was time for us to snorkel on the coral reef next to the island. With our experience from Colombia, we knew to put life saver on Joani`s arms, for all the children to wear life jackets, and to have another floater in the water for the children to grab on.
With all our gears ready, we went down into the ocean. The beginning was good. The children didn`t freak out like last time when they saw how deep was the ocean. However, Joani felt it was too cold and for the entire snorkel trip, she kept crying or whinning that she is cold. The water was colder than the Caribbean Sea and the sun wasn`t out at that time. Fortunately, Olivia and Nathan was able to enjoy it and we saw many colourful sea creatures. Some of our favourite was a three brightly colored tropical fish, blue star fish, sting ray, colourful corals, and thousands of small colourful fish swimming all around us.
We weren`t expecting to see a lot here as this place wasn`t famous for snorkelling, but we were pleasantly surprised to see so much. Almost as much as we saw in Colombia.
After about 30 minutes of snorkelling, we got into the boat because the children were all cold. So we decided to do some kayaking. It was the first time for the children and Jon took them on a ride. After Jon and Olivia started to be more synchronized with their paddle, it was actually pretty easy to go fast on the boat without too much effort. Kayaking with the waves onto the beach was fun as we felt we were surfing. Kayaking from the beach out to the ocean against the rushing waves was much harder. Once the boat flipped over as we tried to paddle out. Eventually, Olivia and Nathan had to help push the boat while Jon paddled out to get Annie and Joani into the kayak to come to the shore.
When we were all on shore, we began to explore the island. Around the place we landed were many ocean rocks and on them many tide pools. Around the tide pools are hundreds of small and medium size crabs. We got really excited. Inside the tide pools are different sea snails, sea shells, and sea urchins. We used rocks to dig up some sea urchins. Looking at them made us hungry to eat Uni (raw sea urchin). So we used rock to break one. The inside looked yummy but it was too small to be eaten.
We continued to hike on rocks and around waves and sand. It was a lot of fun.
At the end of the hike, we came upon a sea bird colony. There were many birds living on the island and they flew all over and around us, almost like Galapagos? We couldn`t name all the birds but one bird was quite unique. It has a red throat that it can blow it up into a large red balloon. Jon tried to climb up the cliff for a better picture but it was too hard.
At the end of the tour, the children swam back to the boat while Jon & Annie kayaked back. It was a great trip and we were really glad we did it. We had the boat all to ourselves and there was even sandwiches, fruit, and Coke for lunch.
FISH MARKET ON THE BEACH
Arriving back on land around 11AM, we saw several fishing boats that came back from fishing. Many people gather around the boats to buy the fish right on the boat and then quickly load them onto trucks to transport them to various places.
We saw lots of tuna and also squids. The fresh squid looked so good that we wanted to buy some. We were able to buy about one handful for USD 50 cents, perfect to add to our anticipated lunch.
We thought it was not worth the trouble to buy ingredients to cook just one meal so we went to our favourite restaurant, Maroka, to asked them to cook the fish we caught plus the squid for us. After half an hour, we had quite a meal with fish head soup, fried fish filet, and a bowl of nicely seasoned sautéed squids. We also had some conche shell soup, rice, juice, and salad to go with it. For everything, the restaurant only charged USD 6. We were really filled and it was especially delicious eating the things we caught ourselves.
For the rest of the afternoon, we did homeschooling and caught up on our emails and journals. At 8PM, we took the night bus back to Quito. Only one more day until the end of the trip. We were feeling a bit sad that this wonderful trip will be ending soon.
At the Sol Inn, we met a French couple who recognized us because this is the third time they saw us! What a coincidence. They saw us on the night bus from Potosi to La Paz, Bolivia. They saw us at the Titicaca Lake when we were watching the sunset. And now we were all at the beach in Ecuador.
1) We stayed in the Sol Inn which is also in the Lonely Planet. It has clean bathroom and nice hot shower and a nice lounge and game room. It is also built with wood and bamboo giving it a nice atmosphere. We like it a lot. For a room with 3 beds with public bathroom it was USD 15.
2) Just south of Sol Inn right at the T intersection is our favourite restaurant, Maroka, which we ate 3 times! Their seafood lunch menu was great, one with fish salad, once with conch shell meat. The restaurant owner was even so kind to cook the fish and squid we brought in for just a nominal additional cost of about 2-3 USD.
3) We went with Whale Expeditions, Orcados Aventuras C. A. Tel 052300106 for our tour to the Salango island. The owner was very friendly and reasonable in its price. After some negotiation, we were able to have a five hour boat trip with 5 activities for just our family on the boat for USD 100.
4) For our trip back to Quito from Puerto Lopez, we took the Reina del Camino bus (USD 12/seat, 10 hours). Although it costs 2 dollars more, it was worth it as the seats are new, there is air-con, and there were much fewer stops along the way.