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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Galápagos Retrospective

I’m not going to be doing much traveling for awhile, but it seems you guys enjoy the pictures, so I thought I’d share some photos of my Galápagos adventure with Kelly (two years ago this month). It might sound trite, but observing evolution at work, and at such close range, is a profound experience. We had the good fortune to be adopted by a lovely South African family living in London (Nikki, Andrew, and 14-year-old Jamie), and hanging out with them made our trip all the more enjoyable. Even the frustrations (the cockroaches on the boat, the hilariously bad food and creepy cook, the irresponsible behavior of our fellow tourists) fell into the category of ‘never a dull moment.’ If you ever get a chance to go, DO!

(Right: a frigatebird strutting his stuff. The bird life is wonderful–clever little sparrows hopped right up to me whenever I opened my water bottle, and we even spotted a few penguins!)

But read Mike D’Orso’s Plundering Paradise first. I had the privilege of working on this book while I was at Harper, and I reread it during our trip–it’s an engrossing, very personable travelogue touching on the myriad environmental and economic problems wrought by tourism, immoral/illegal fishing practices, and government corruption, all through the eyes of island natives, scientists, and other long-term residents.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my little slide show, with a few journal excerpts thrown in.

Galápagos tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Isla Santa Cruz.


Unlike humans, marine iguanas don’t seem to mind the lack of personal space.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007: “Just got back from our second morning of snorkeling–swam behind a sea turtle for maybe half a minute, saw a few sea urchins and a big indigo-colored fish, then a huge sea lion towards the end. We heard stories of sea lions mistaking people in wet suits for their own species, and even attacking. Yesterday morning I saw a small ray and a wider variety of fish–several schools (makes you feel so serene, watching them swimming in unison); a few pale medium-sized fish streaked with pastel pink, blue, and green; and a larger blue fish lying still beneath a rock.”

Kelly chillin’ with a sea lion.

Thursday, 23 August 2007: “Been having a tremendously good time–never again will I be able to speak the words “he peed in Barbara Bush’s coochie” to a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses…”

The boat circled Kicker Rock early in the morning–well worth getting up at 6 for, don’t you think?

Thursday, 23 August 2007 (later): “Watched a sea lion in labor (for nearly an hour!) Came back from our walk and found mom and pup in the same spot on the beach near the pier. Blood on the sand. Saw waved albatrosses doing their mating dance, clacking beaks like a furious game of hockey. Stunning cliff views…”

Aforementioned beak-hockey mating dance.

The infamous blue-footed booby.

“Horribly rough passage from Santa Cruz to Santa Fe this afternoon–newcomers were all seasick, and we all felt pretty queasy too. But I laid down and listened to Elbow. Proud of myself for not puking. Delicious hot chocolate served after snorkeling.”

Sally Lightfoot crabs are cannibals! We saw the whole, um, feast.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 (back on the mainland): “Last delicious thing we had on that boat, let me tell you…”

Kelly on Isla Bartolome, during the most scenic walk of the trip. Notice rocket-shaped Pinnacle Rock at top right–there’s another view of it in the picture below.

5 Comments to Galápagos Retrospective

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    August 7, 2009 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    I'm so glad you posted these! I don't think that I got to see these pictures or hear a lot of your stories when you came back. I love the journal excerpts–although I don't understand the coochie comment.

  2. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    August 7, 2009 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    When somebody says "so and so peed in her [insult vulgar word of your choice]", it means you think there is something seriously wrong with the baby that resulted. Not gonna get any more explicit, this blog is rated PG!

  3. Jessica Maybury's Gravatar Jessica Maybury
    August 7, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Loving the turtles! Awesome. And man I love your website also. Top notch, woman.

  4. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    August 8, 2009 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! Breathtaking. Since I don't do much traveling, it's nice to see the Galapagos Islands brought to me! Thanks…More travel photos please…

  5. Angela's Gravatar Angela
    August 14, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I want to go! The blue foot baby is awesome 🙂

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.