The Galapagos

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Hi there! We're back at our "usual" hotel in Quito, preparing for our final week in Ecuador. It's pretty wonderful to be back on land after eight days on a boat - more about that in a moment.

Our time in the Galapagos islands was phenomenal. Words here won't do justice to the things we saw and experienced there, and even the tons of photos and video we're bringing back with us can't fully capture it.

But a few highlights:

The main theme of the encounters with the land and the animals of the Galapagos is that they don't know any fear of humans, and so it is possible to walk right up to a sea lion, a blue footed boobie bird or an iguana and look them in the eye. And that we did, day after day.

We sunned on the beach with the magnificent families of sea lions, and then joined them in the water when it got too hot. We snorkeled around amazing coral reef with penguins, sting rays, sharks and the most beautiful varieties of fish. We hiked through lava rock formations to see iguana resting and watching, huge bright red crabs sunning, waved albatross nesting, and great blue heron quietly stalking. Pelicans swooped by just inches away, and finches (all 13 varieties) showed us their nests. We watched in awe of the giant tortoises that had been alive longer than Kelly and I combined, slowly moving around their home in search of the best grass, the coolest pond.

We were joined in our travels by a great group of people from all walks of life. At each meal we sat with different folks and learned of their other travels, their lives back home, and their experiences of the world. Lawyers, doctors, ranchers, professors, chemists, biologists, parents, grandparents, friends. We learned to call each other by name and to help each other get the most out of the experience.

Perhaps the most central people in the whole experience were Karina and Ivan, our two naturalist guides. They were with us during almost every waking hour, and as we landed on each island, they did an amazing job of talking about individual plants, animals and landscapes while putting all of it in the context of the islands` history and formation. They brought humor, emotion and perspective that truly "made" the visit.

The hardest part of the whole trip was the vomit. The first night on the boat, during our initial "activities briefing" in the main lounge, I had to leave the group to go up on the sun deck, where I pretty much spent the next few days any time we were on the boat. My slight queasiness with the rocking motion had crossed the line into full-on sea sickness, and the rest of the night was all about throwing up in between 10-20 minutes of restless sleep. Kelly, having wisely obtained "the patch" before our trip, was not nearly as affected as I was, so she took good care of me. It was bad enough that we debated whether to continue the trip, but I managed to find some other passengers with extra patches that I could use, and so by the third day I was at least able to move around a bit, eat food, etc. in between landings on sweet, blessed solid ground. We were even able to sleep in the stateroom we'd paid for during the last couple of nights, though sleeping under the stars on the sun deck was an experience I won't forget.

Visiting the Galapagos by boat was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and in the end, Kelly and I are both so grateful that we were able to do it, and the trials of sea sickness just made us appreciate it even more.

Well, I've gone on long enough - we've got some parts of Quito to see today, then we're off on a bus to Banos, a town in the highland mountain area a few hours south of here. Kayaking, hiking and maybe even a spa treatment are in our near future. After that, it's north to Otavalo to visit the market there and prepare for our trip home on Saturday.

3 thoughts on “The Galapagos

  1. Chris and Kelly, Thank you so much for the posts and giving us a glimpse of what it is like being there. The fact you now can (almost) overlook the sea sickness part speaks volumes as to what an incredible experience your Galapagos visit was--sort of the gold standard for nature educational travel. Look forward to hearing more.

  2. Send me an e-mail and give me minute by minute details of snorkeling with the sharks. I want size, how big their eyes were when they starred at you, how many teeth they showed, and how many times your heart beat per second when you saw them. I hope you had an underwater camera. Not even the sharks were threatened by humans? Omg, we have so much to talk about.

  3. It all sounds awesome-- again as I read my biologist brain cannot wait to hear all the fabulous details!
    Sorry about the sickness-- I understand the constant feeling of ickness and do not wish it on anyone-- saving factor is when you know there is an end to it!

    Can't wait for you all to return with great stories-- but wish for you that it is slow and relaxing!

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