Arriving to the
April 6, 2007

The Galapagos Islands are something that I have heard about from several friends that have been. People seem to not be able to
get enough of this place. I have to admit that it has always been hard to understand the excitement and fascination that people have
with this place after they have been. I have never discounted the experiences that my friends have had…but it was just hard for
to get blown away by the accounts of the wildlife that they saw.

Nevertheless, there was no way I could be in Ecuador and
not plan a trip to come out here. If anything, this turned into my main
priority for this country. Alas, a trip was booked. Everything else would revolve around my time out here.

After only one afternoon out here, I can now say it: I
totally understand the fascination and excitement revolving around this

Seven of us fellow passengers met up at the airport. When we got to the boat we found out that we were the only seven people on-
board this boat that can hold 20! This means that all of us solo travelers have our own rooms! Not only that…instead of 20 people
trying to make use of all of the public areas, there are
only 7 of us sharing them. And probably the most important part of this is
that we all get along brilliantly. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous when I was at the Guayaquil airport and saw a group of 12
or so people who were booked on a trip (obvious from the pins they were wearing with their boat’s name). All of these people were
a couple generations older than me. I am sure that they were all very nice people. But I was just hoping that the people on my boat
were going to be closer to my age. My hoping paid off. It was obvious early on that the group of us would all get along, but dinner
tonight more than solidified this assumption.

But now I am getting ahead of myself. I haven’t even talked about my time on Santa Fe Island at Puerto Ayora…

After checking into our boat, we loaded into a dinghy to make our way back to land. We were off to the Darwin Center.

This was nothing like what I was expecting. The name ‘Darwin Center’ made me think that this was going to be some indoor place
filled with billboards of information. Fun, huh? Yeah…that’s what I was thinking. Thankfully, I was wrong. We roamed around (all
outdoors, I should add) and watched the different animals and birds do their thing.

I have to say that I think the Galapagos puts a spell on people. Really. I think so. How else can I explain that I am actually blown
away by birds out here? Let me repeat. I find myself drawn to the
birds. This has never happened before (penguins and puffins are
exempt from this comment). Some of the birds out here are massive – one with a funny looking beak is called a frigate (which is also
known as a pirate bird because he comes down and steals food).

We saw things today that ranged from the oh-so-colorful Sally Lightfoot crab (who can’t love a crab with a name like that?),
Lonesome George (the last tortoise resident of one of the islands in the Galapagos), other Giant Tortoises (‘giant’ being 400
pounds), marine iguanas and land iguanas. Their personalities shine through whether it’s the way they move across a pathway or if
they are just chilling out with a loved one (I have to admit it was a bit bizarre seeing an iguana sitting with its arm around the
shoulder of its companion – such a human thing to do).

Aside from the wildlife, the vegetation here is also incredible. We saw prickly pear cacti growing from tree trunks. Well, they weren’
actual tree trunks…but they sure did look like them! And to imagine prickly pear pads growing off of them. What an amazing yet
unreal sight. I do realize that this
might fascinate me more than the average person since I went to college in Arizona and was
surrounded by cacti for almost four years…

Before heading back to the boat, we wandered around the town for a bit. Lots of little shops and cafes out here. Once we got back to
the boat we watched an amazing sunset before having some local ‘wahoo’ fish for dinner.

My other six boat-mates consist of Barbara (who lives in L.A.); Deb and Victor (a couple from Toronto) and Deb (their friend who is
also from Toronto); and Scott and Kirk (a couple from Vancouver). Good times are ahead, I just know it.

Time to go to bed. We have an early morning (heading off the boat at 6:30am) tomorrow. Exciting stuff!
Back to Ecuador.
A giant Giant Tortoise at the Darwin Center.
Love is in the air.
A hungry tortoise.