Last week, as we approached the solstice in Quito, just south of the equator, I mused to the kids how we were going to be missing winter – in the south hemisphere, it was the spring solstice, turning to summer. Twenty miles north, on the other side of the equator, it was nominally turning to winter. Yes, I know that around here, the notion of summer vs winter is about as meaningful as whether the current time of day is a prime number, but where we’re from, it’s more than symbolic. Some time last night, north and west of Santiago Island, we crossed the equator into winter.
I’d stood on the foredeck as we left land behind. It was unnerving to look at the receding coastline and see nothing but darkness. No lights anywhere along the expanse. There were simply no people, no roads, no civilization on Santiago.
Reaching the north end of Isabela, we turned west into rougher water. I was nominally asleep at this point, but the chop from the Pelagic current bounced us around like a giant martini shaker – ca chunk – ca chunk – ca chunk. Dreams of slow motion earthquakes and pink plastic squid (in a weird turn of omens, this morning I discovered a small squid that had washed up on our balcony during the night).
By dawn, we’d turned south, and Vanessa woke us with an early announcement that we were crossing the equator (again). Everyone to the bridge for the event. Captain Diego crossed it diagonally, then spun the boat around to cross north again, and let Jinwon cross it straight south for good measure. At this point, the crew lets Jinwon do almost anything mechanical he asks – he drives the dinghies, runs the winch. Mechanically inclined? Yes. His Christmas present, which he’d been begging for, was the promise of a leaf blower.
Anyhow. Tucked under the chin of the Isabela “seahorse” and jumped from the boat for some snorkeling. Best sea life we’ve seen yet. Clear, clear water, sea turtles galore, penguins, puffers, triggerfish, jellyfish, swarms of little transparent things and rays. Flocks of bat rays flowing in slow motion formation flight. And a manta. A biiiiig manta. Slowling winging its way out of the massive uplift cave we were swimming in.
By the time Gregor, Terry, Schuyler and I decided to swim back to the Nina, we’d been in the water for over two hours. The others had, one by one, waved the dinghy over and gotten shuttled back. I got back on board, took a loooong, hot shower, somehow remained awake through lunch and flopped to sleep before the boat was moving again.