Planet Hiker
2004-11-07 Yellow hat, Galapagos, Ecuador


While staying in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, I subleased a house from Christine and Kate (both, very good looking girls!) and to my surprise, the house came with a kayak. So I decided to see what this puppy can do and took it out for a run to Tortuga Bay. And off we went, between and under mangrove branches that stretched along the river, with their hight roots, like long fingers, piercing the shore line. Then alongside of yachts, big and small, while dodging water taxis that hurriedly crossed in between. And finally I was in the open ocean where the wind would have run through my hair, if I was not wearing a hat. But, I was wearing it. It was a bright yellow hat that I bought in Panama and I was proud of it because it was made out of "moisture wicking material".

I decided not to hurry and work on my technique. There was a long journey ahead so it was important not get any particular muscle overtired. On the way it occurred to me that if for some reason, the kayak were to overturn, I would probably loose the hat. I really did not want to loose the hat so I meticulously went around all of the reefs where the waves were breaking. There were couple of times when I was not careful enough and a big wave would catch me by surprise, tossing the kayak side to side. But, with luck on my side, I was able to regain control and continue.

After what seemed like a loooong while, I finally came in the visual distance of the beach. I considered the possibility of continuing for the next beach where the waves are smaller, but then having remembered that Christine and Kate took the boogie board out earlier in the day, I decided to make my landing in the rough waters, thinking that the girls may still be around.

I maneuvered around the surfers and paddled hard towards the shore, hoping to catch the next waved. But the wave caught me instead, tossing me off the kayak and giving me a few washing machine style tumbles. When I came up for a gulp of air, I knew that the first priority is to grab the paddle, then go after the kayak. The hat was of course gone, but may be, that was the price for the safe passage. So I grab the paddle and started swimming for the kayak. But then, I abruptly decided that I am not letting the hat go! In the corner of my eye I saw how the wave took it and slowly started to drown it. Having only a vague feeling of where the hat was, I dropped the paddle and scrambled diving towards it. To my wildest surprise, I brushed against something, reflectively grabbing it and when I came back up to surface, the yellow hat was in my hand!

Sinking my teeth into the hat, I swam for the paddle, grabbed it, and assisted the waves in wash me off towards the shore. By now the kayak was way ahead of me, but eventually I caught up with it and dragged it on the beach. With my feet in the sand, I ceremoniously put the hat on, feeling that I just cheated Poseidon, and claimed victory (even though the landing wasn't exactly smooth).

Twenty minutes later, a crowd gathered not too far away. One of the onlookers that went by announced that someone had just drowned... May be, I thought, the hat was meant to be lost to the sea?.. Not wanting to sub come to superstition, I tied the hat to the kayak, so that no matter how rough the waves, it was not going to be washed off. This was especially keen since I still had to go against the waves when paddling off the beach.

It turned out that my preparations were not in vain. Over and over again the waves would overturn the kayak when I tried leaving the beach. I was trying to time the waves, waiting for the small ones before trying again. But every time I crossed the break line, a really big wave would come out of nowhere and kick me back to where I started. With my pride drenched wet, I dragged the kayak along the beach to where the waters were a bit calmer. After a few more attempts there, I was finally able to break free, with the hat still tied to the kayak.

The next day the hat disappeared. I know that I walked around town with it, but, for the life of me, I can't understand where I could have left it... This is a bright yellow hat, I must point out! How is it even possible to forget it someplace? I revisited all of the restaurants that I have eaten at, all of the Internet cafes, asked everyone I know, but to no avail. Destiny or not, the yellow hat was gone...



The following photos are from the dive at Gordon Rocks, but I am including them here since it takes a long time for that page to load already.