Stephan and I were privileged to take the vacation of a lifetime in June, and recently completed putting together a large, physical scrapbook with photos, maps, and other items, with some captions and a small amount of commentary. Though I am not going to duplicate all of that here, I did want to share a couple of photos and some writing I did during and after the trip.
Seeing such beautiful wildlife up close was spectacular, and the fact that the animals, for the most part, have no fear of humans due to having had no negative experiences, is incredible. Our tour company, Ecoventura, was excellent, and the naturalists, captain, and all the staff on board the Letty helped make this the adventure of a lifetime.
Though I have no photos from snorkeling, the memory that stays with me the most is the one I describe here:
An Indescribable Feeling
The first thing I think about the feeling is that it is indescribable. But I am a writer, so I really have no excuse. It deserves an excellent poem that can make readers feel the same feeling, and I am not sure I am capable of that. But I can describe the experience of having the feeling, to the best of my ability, and maybe, if I am lucky, I can find words that help articulate it.
Here is part of what I wrote in my journal as the initial attempt to capture the feeling, on June 19, 2019:
Then, snorkeling from the panga, we had the most incredible snorkeling experience ever! Huge sea turtles, swimming with them and marine iguanas—we could see them dive down to eat—and all sorts of fish. At one point we were surrounded by schools of tiny silver striped fish like moving curtains turning this way and that, and at the same time, seeing a giant sea turtle below and an iguana swimming near the surface. Most incredible nature experience ever—I felt like I had stepped into a completely new world.
Though I didn’t write it down, I recall also feeling like I wanted to just put my hands to my heart and say a heartfelt “I love you” to all of nature, to express my gratitude for the beauty which I was privileged to experience. I still tear up a little bit just remembering what it felt like.
If I think about it for too long, there is also sadness, because I want for everyone to feel this, to have this opportunity—I can’t help feeling that the world would be a better place, that we would love each other more, that we would empathize with those who are different from us, if only we could, for a moment, love and try to understand a beautiful, majestic animal in their own environment. Maybe we would see how interconnected we all are, and that nature isn’t just something outside of us, but part of us in a way that we cannot and should not deny.
July 14 2019
During the trip, I also wrote one very short piece of fiction, after learning about the incredible story of the marine iguanas and how they must have evolved from land iguanas millions of years ago, and then passing a few pastures with cows in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
The Galapagos Cows
The story of the Galápagos cows is very long, and most of it has not happened yet. A small island far to the west of the archipelago consisted of nothing but basalt from lava. The cows decided to migrate there to see if over the course of several million years, some of them might evolve into creatures who could live in that harsh environment. Sadly, if the story were true, they would simply die, but since this story is based on magical realism, there will be, millions of years from now, seagoing cows who eat algae and whose hooves have become flat and broad, like paddles.
There is so much more I could say, but sadly, I am behind in lots of other writing I need to do. After our Galapagos adventure, we spent a week in Peru, which was also an amazing experience. I feel so enriched by the experience of travel, and lucky that we were able to take this wonderful trip together.