Note: Some liberties may have been taken with the dialogue and some details may have been adjusted for clarity. Such as Chan’s grammar.
“I didn’t know they came that big,” William said, awestruck and a little intimidated.
“Me neither,” Chanpiseth replied. He whipped out his camera and began snapping pictures.
“The head is just peaking out,” Will said, taking out his camcorder. He waited for it to start up, which took a few seconds because it was a shitty camcorder not a DSLR. He kept staring intently. “It looks as hard as a rock too.”
“I really wish we could touch it,” Chan said wistfully.
Will looked around at the Charles Darwin Research Station, where the giant tortoises were being bred. It was the second day of their trip to the Galapagos and Will still couldn’t stop appreciating the landscape around him. The cactus trees, the strange flowers, the constantly twittering birds, all served to remind him that he was in one of the most beautiful places he had ever been to. And there was no fucking snow.
“Look over here,” Chan said, waving at Will. Will followed Chan over to the next tortoise pit. There was an entire group (herd? pack? flock?) of giant tortoises, clustered around the feeding area. They looked more like a bunch of boulders than actual animals.
Blastoise would probably smell better though.
“Where are we going again?” Will asked, squinting at Chan.
“Las Grietas,” Chan said, exasperated. “It’s a small canyon-like place where you can swim. We have to take a water taxi though.”
“Okay, sounds good,” Will said. “But you can’t swim.”
“I’ll be fine,” Chan replied. “And you can save me.”
“Nah, I’m good.”
Chan was about to reply when he was distracted by a sudden squawking. A crowd of people was gathered around a trio of fishermen who were slicing up their wares, preparing them for sale. Knives flashed in the bright sun as they hacked off unwanted bits of the giant fish, the orangish-pink flesh being cut into thick squares. One of the fishermen carved off the fin of the fish in his hands and in one fluid motion, flipped it into the air. It was caught by a pelican that immediately swallowed the piece and bobbed its head, asking for more. The others in the flock of pelicans, which was right next to the crowd of customers, fought for space as they stared intensely at the generous fisherman.
“Everything on this island is so big,” Chan said, pulling out his camera.
“Well, not everything,” Will joked, then paused pointedly. Chan gave no notice and continued to take pictures.
“Your penis,” Will said after a few seconds.
“What?” “Your penis is not so big.”
Chan looked at Will confusedly.
“The fuck?” he asked.
“Never mind,” said Will and kept walking to the water taxi.
“That looks fucking deep.”
“It is fucking deep. What, are you scared?”
“Yeah, a little bit. I don’t know how to swim!”
Will looked at Chan with a mixture of annoyance and amusement. “I know; I tried to teach you yesterday, remember?” Will said, sweeping his wet bangs out of his eyes. He had already been in the cool water once and his skin glistened with hundreds of little droplets. Glistened, in the way that a Greek god’s body would.
“You’ll be fine. Trust me. There are rocks on the edges that you can grab onto.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll go in. Save me if I start to drown.”
“Nah, I’m good,” Will said. Chan ignored him and continued to stare at the water, apprehensive.
“What if—” he started to say.
Suddenly, there was a thud behind them and then the sound of child crying. Will and Chan turned around to see that a little girl had fallen down on the rocks of the gorge. They watched as the father quickly picked her up and comforted her in soothing Spanish, while the mother, who was ahead of them, hurried her way back to inspect the damage. A few more concerned onlookers ushered them to a large boulder in the shade where the girl could sit down. She was missing a shoe.
“I hope she wasn’t hurt too badly,” said Will.
“I think she’s fine,” replied Chan. “She’s missing her shoe though.”
“Yeah,” Will said as he watched the man who rented out snorkels and life jackets went over to where the girl had fallen. The man peered into the crevasses, searching for the missing shoe. “I think it’s gone. The holes between the rocks are pretty deep.”
“Yeah, it’s definitely gone,” Chan said. He returned his attention back to the water. “Okay, I think I’m ready to go in.”
“You sure?” Will asked, “All right then, let me put our stuff somewhere safer.”
He grabbed his backpack and Chan’s and stepped along the rocks to a more secluded area. Will put the bags down and as he turned around, he felt his left slipper catch on a protruding piece of stone. Before he had time to react, he felt the slipper slide off of his foot. Will could only watch as the slipper tumbled down, toe over heel, almost in slow-motion, down into a narrow crack between two rocks. The unfortunate slipper disappeared into darkness. Will just stared at the hole the slipper had vanished into for a few long seconds. Still struck dumb by what happened, Will slowly raised his eyes to find Chan staring at the same hole. Chan looked up.
“Fuck,” Will said. They both started laughing.
“Well, this fucking sucks.”
“This is the funniest thing that’s happened on this trip,” said Chan, laughing.
“The towel isn’t blocking the heat from the ground at all,” Will complained. “Of course this would happen to me.” They passed by another small group of Ecuadorians who looked at Will’s foot and chuckled to themselves. “Zapato,” Will said loudly. Shoe.
“Right after that little girl lost her shoe too,” Chan said. “The guy who was looking for her shoe just looked at you and shrugged.” Chan laughed again.
“Shut up,” Will said. “At least I didn’t have to rent a life jacket for four dollars because I got trapped on a rock in the middle of the gorge.”
“I panicked!” Chan exclaimed. “The water was fucking deep. I almost drowned!”
They walked along in silence for a short while. As they reached the end of the trail leading out of Las Grietas, Chan looked back at Will.
“This was a long day,” Chan said. “You know what would make it better?”
Will felt a smile come over his face as he thought of the brownies he had packed on whim.
At the end of the day, Will and Chan were very happy.