Galapagos II...

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
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Trip End Apr 08, 2008


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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, March 17, 2008

An unexpected experience of pure pleasure....started with another delightful dinner...the cook, in this tiny kitchen, somehow produces a complex dinner every night...tonight - fried shrimp, cauliflower and cheese casserole, broccoli, rice w/ frijoles and some warm tropical fruit with cinnamon.  So afterward, I go up to the top deck to enjoy the stars...pretty much everybody retreats up there after dinner...but this time, I can't find a place to sit without inhaling someone's cigarette smoke.  For a bunch of lovely people they sure do smoke too much...mostly Europeans.  So, a bit disconcerted by the smoker's takeover of the deck, and having socialized enough for one day anyway, I look for another place to settle. 
 
I find my way up in front of the boat on the open deck - it freaks me out a little to walk up there at night because you have to walk along the sloping wet edge of the boat and of course, there is a handrail, but it still makes me a bit anxious.  But I brave it up there, channeling the sure movements of the boat crew that I've been impressed with all week - I even carry a seat cushion with me, and I settle in up there alone.  Tucked in between the life raft and the flagpole.  And feeling the boat cruise towards the horizon, I have my moment of complete bonding with the Galapagos.  Such serenity and beauty...with a crescent moon above, we head right towards a heavy cloud bank...I watch as we get closer and closer feeling that for sure the rain will be pouring down shortly.  The sitting and watching and waiting is pure bliss.  Quiet except for the engine, surrounded by warm, moist air, the water moving in waves past the boat, rocking side to side...in the middle of the Pacific, amongst the Galapagos Islands.  A feeling of disbelief... incredulity...it isn't until this moment that I really feel where I am.  I've been hiking and snorkeling and seeing amazing things....animals always at arms reach, floating within schools of brilliantly colored fish, and yet it isn't until this moment that I fully feel surrounded by the Galapagos.  So now I know where I am and I feel completely present in this place, and ready to enjoy every second I have yet to spend here.  And how interesting it is that it took the distaste of excessive cigarette smoke to open my eyes fully to this gift.  

HAMMERHEADS!!!!  What a thrill....swimming with hammerhead sharks.  I've only seen them in books and videos...maybe in an aquarium?  But to have them within perhaps 8 feet, both of us side by side in the water....big ones...and those odd heads...remarkable....and a little daunting as my British friends might say. 
 
We take a long overnight boat trip up to Genovesa Island, maybe the northernmost of the Galapagos...an 8 hour ride.  We wake up in this crater-like bay...a circle perhaps 80% surrounded by vertical rock cliffs...the crater...all these islands were formed as hot spots...  As the tectonic plates of the Earth slide over the molten interior, volcanoes pop up where the earths crust is a little thinner, and the islands form...they often occur in a chain since the same phenomenon keeps occurring as the plates continue to slide by.  The Hawaiian islands were formed in the same way, I believe.   So we're in a bowl of a bay, it's clear warm water...first we hike the island...see all sorts of birds....red footed boobies, blue footed boobies and masked boobies...and then there are the major and minor frigatas and the kestrels ....  All making their homes on islands of hardened lava...looks a lot like Iceland out here...like cracked-up asphalt....with fissures and caves...I can picture this island as a bubbling pile of lava being spit up from the center of the earth.     
 
We head out to snorkel, spy some dolphins...bail out of the boat within seconds and are close enough to touch them....and then there are the rays and the puffers (this time I see a bright yellow one), Dori-fish (like in Nemo)...I can never remember the names of fish even though I've been told quite a few times..  I see this long snake-like fish about a meter long...the skin even looks like snake skin...I believe it's a pipe fish.    It has an iridescent blue tail about 1 foot long...can't show photos of these creatures as I didn't bring an underwater camera.  Not having one kind of releases me from any aquatic photographic responsibility....I get to just float and take it all in....a window on a different and magnificent world.  But I have to tell you, nothing comes close to equaling the thrill of those hammerheads!  A small one about 6 feet long and then a bigger one about 9/10 feet long.   Way bigger than me...and acting like I'm not even there.
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rawhideone
rawhideone on

galapagos
glad you enjoyed the photos...and the place is phenomenal...if you get a chance i enjoyed hanging out in Puerto Ayora for a few days too...the tour i took was on the Golondrima...pros and cons but basically a really good trip...the guide could have been much more informative...food good..crew good...boat good...fourteen people...good all around...any other questions feel free to email me at rawhideone@yahoo.com...enjoy...kk

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