Sep 9, 2012

Puerto Refugio – Where is the Breeze?

The truth is, most of us discover where 
We are headed when we arrive.
Bill Watterson 

Sail Rock at west of Puerto Refugio
Completely white due to thick guano cover
At the north end of Isla Angel de la Guarda (Guardian Angel Island), this area is the antithesis of Alcatraz in some ways. There are no white sandy beaches or aqua blue clear waters. People come here for the various and attractive rock formations and the seal rookery, not for leisurely strolls on the soft sands.

White trunk trees dotting hillsides
Same white tree with pelican nest at base
Puerto Refugio has several small detached rocks/reefs and islands to visit. The rocky/gravelly beaches are made of mostly dark rose/burgundy coarse sand, pebbles and stones. Some others are made of slabs of stones from beige to tan. Arches, caves, flat broken cubes of sandstones, and mushroom rocks offer new vistas at each corner, each cove and/or island being quite different than its close neighbor.

Just to show that I am still alive!
Slabs of fallen rocks (sandstone like)
Tan and pinkish caves
Low tide looking towards Granite Island
A team of eight naturalists is here studying the effects of cats and rats being introduced on this island by fishermen (so it is believed).

As we hike one of the many hills and valley, we notice pelican nests along most edges built either at the base of tall trees, on top of small shrubs, or on top of rocks, offering little to no protection from predators so the now empty nesting areas (for this is the off-season) are strewn with pelican bones, mostly from juveniles. How much did the dead iguana we also saw had to do with any of these deaths, or the imported rats and cats? We read that in most cases, pelicans lay two eggs (although they can have up to six) but that in general, only one offspring survives…

Another example of pelican nest. 
Male gathers the items, female builds the nest
Nest atop small bush
Our floating home alone in this vast anchorage
Arch nearby
It almost looks like an elephant trunk
A very fascinating looking lizard roams this end of the island. It is mostly grayish with a yellow and orange chest. What makes it interesting and different is the way it carries its banded black and white tail curled up high when it is running, just like a scorpion’s tail hence its nickname ‘scorpion lizard’.

Only when moving/running do they curl their tail up like a scorpion's
We visit Isla Granita (Granite Island) where hundreds of sea lions sunbathe, scratch their backs on rocks, float around, swims or simply are curious of who is approaching. We keep our distance for some of the bulls are very large and we are only in a 10 foot inflatable. They come in a variety of colors from light beige to brown to grey and finally, black. There is a lot of snorting, coughing and barking going on. Thankfully the island is over a mile from where we sleep so their constant chatting is just a nice reminder of Mother Nature in the background of our dreams. This could be where the large dead bull sea lion in the cove we anchored at comes from. Life and death balance reminders everywhere.

Puerto Refugio is much more a protected area than at first glance – so well protected indeed that there is no breeze during the night making it much hotter and stuffier therefore more difficult to sleep but we enjoy the peace and quiet of being the only two-legged critters here.

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