I scarcely allow myself to blink as we motor to the Ballesta Islands. We pass beautiful mountains of color: red, brown, gold, black. Words and still frames are inadequate measures to portray the images which I have burned into my memory; rolling hills of sand, rock carved by oceanic power, and incredible organisms inhabiting this unforgiving environment. The marriage of these components paint a paradoxical picture: an oasis desert, an animal sanctuary tangent to inhabitable land.
Languages flooded my eardrums as our tourista boat cruised along the shoreline. On the boat there was an overwhelming competition between English and Spanish, describing the breathtaking scenery.
Rock formations frosted in guano towered over us, a sanctuary to much wildlife. Birds fluttered about us in a whirlwind, landing precariously on ledges overlooking the sea. I could hear cries of Humboldt Penguins clamoring about their rocky habitat. Red-eyed Cormorants circled from above, returning from a feeding trip. They chirped and cackled amongst themselves, descending to the island, discussing their lunch for the day. While it became difficult at times to distinguish animal tongues over the boat motor, sea lions certainly announced their presence on the island. They bellowed to each other, barking over the plunging waves breaking on a reef. The roaring waves settled out onto the cobble beach, a subtle rushing heard as water escapes back to sea.
The geology of the island was also impressive, which assisted the acoustics of the landscape. Hollows allow for amplification of the sound waves the animals and environment produced, creating a fuller soundscape. While we departed, a consistent thud accompanied us on our journey back with the rise and fall of the boat against the waves. The wide range of sounds experienced on this short trip represents the diversity found on the Ballista Islands.