Where to begin with the sealions of San Cristóbal? They stink, they snap, they may even bite. They cause all sorts of mischief, especially to those of us living on catamarans, where the stern steps are an open invitation to stowaways. Thank heavens we had back nets and made use of the fenders as deterrents - in the early days I had hoped that in their black towelling cases the fenders may act as an espántalobos (a scarecrow for these "wolves of the sea") , but they weren't fooling anyone! The sealions would invariably find a way round any obstacles and slip under the net with stealth and determination that would impress the most hardcore of marines. We didn't get a single uninterrupted night's sleep while in San Cristobal, ever alert to the giveaway "thud" in the cockpit which would indicate our defences had been breached. And yet... and yet... when we'd find one reclining on a towel the cockpit couch as though to say "I rather like the view from up here!" or sniffing our bottled water - "I don't suppose you have sparkling?!" - and then look over at us with those puppy dog eyes, we would fall about laughing, thoroughly entertained. They have a very noble air to them, and while clumsily comical in movement on land, in the water they have a mesmerising grace that we never tired of watching. It was such a privilege to go on deck each morning and do sun salutations in their company, watching them make all sorts of playful shapes in the water in turn, both a distraction and a meditation in their own right.
They never left us alone. As we set sail for Isabela finally, at 5 in the morning, I could just make out in the darkness a snort of indignation and a shake of the whiskers as a sealion followed us out of the harbour, as if to say "my dears, you can't be going already, we're only just getting started!" The crew of LA CIGALE are pretty sociable creatures, but hats off to the sealions of San Cristóbal, the real party animals!