The day has finally come to leave the Galapagos. While I have a few more days in Ecuador, I’m still sad that this part of my spring break has come to an end.
Also, I realize that I’ve only written blog posts about the first two days of my time here, and I’m sorry.
Actually, no, this is my blog, so I should be able to write whatever I want, whenever I want. I take it back. I’m not sorry at all. Screw you guys.
I’m kidding, I love you all, don’tleavemeplease.
Anyways, since I have deprived you all from daily updates, I’m going to write about the past three days all in one really long post. Because it’s always better, healthier, to binge eat after almost starving for a few days. Or to cram all of your studying into the night before the exam instead of spacing it out over the course of a week. Or to hold in your pee until it physically hurts your entire lower body instead of just going to the bathroom when you need to go. Or to ignore symptoms until you have to go get treated for severe pneumonia and have a tube stuck into your side to drain the fluid in your lungs instead of going to the infirmary when it’s clear you’re sick.
…I have issues with procrastination, okay? Leave me alone.
I know what you’re thinking at this point, other than the list of psychiatrists you want to recommend to me. You’re thinking that this is going to be a long blog post with too many words and not enough pictures. You’re thinking that you might not read about the rest of my adventures in the Galapagos because I’m too long-winded. You’re thinking that I’m doing exactly that, right now.
Well, for all those who hate reading, I’m just going to say this.
Or as Chan likes to say, boo fucking hoo.
And now, let’s get on with it!
DAY 3: A New Realization and The Return of the Giant Tortoises
So, we were originally planning to make our own way to the other islands and explore them by ourselves because we thought it would be cheaper. Unfortunately, it was this day that we learned that it was impossible to go to the other islands without booking a tour, apart from the other two main islands of Isabela and San Cristobal. Also, it was much easier to book a tour since they take you to the best spots anyways. And so, we booked tours to Isabela on Wednesday and Bartelome on Thursday. It was expensive and we’re going to be slightly over-budget, but hey. How many times were we going to be in the Galapagos, right? Exactly.
In any case, after booking the tours, we decided to go to the tortoise sanctuary.
Yes, we had already seen giant tortoises in the Charles Darwin Research Station, but the sanctuary meant that there were tortoises just roaming around. Also, some of the oldest, and therefore biggest, tortoises are located there, so we had to go see.
Have you ever been online dating? Or maybe even Tinder? You know that feeling of disappointment you get when you meet someone for the first time face-to-face after building up an image of them just through texting? That feeling when you realize that he has two giant moles on his neck that looks like an infected snakebite. Those weren’t in his profile picture. Or when you find out that she smells exactly like your grandmother: a mixture of mothballs, oatmeal, and resignation. You know that feeling, right?
Well, it was the exact opposite of that feeling when we saw the giant tortoises.
After hanging out with the giant tortoises and their carcasses, Chan and I decided to go to a beach called El Garrapatero and hung out with the birds.
DAY 4: BOOBS I MEAN BOOBIES, HAHA WHAT AN ORIGINAL JOKE
Our tour to Isabela began at 7 in the morning, which is the time I usually get up when I’m forced to. It was great.
What was also great was the two hour boat ride in a small boat that must’ve been an elevator in its previous life from the way it enjoyed going up and down, up and down, over and over and over again. I puked twice. So did three other passengers. It was great.
Once we got to Isabela, however, we were all fine. More or less.
I’ve always thought that flamingos, while pretty to look at, were pretty inefficient animals. I mean, just look at them, they look so poorly designed. Long brittle legs, long brittle neck, flashy colors that attract too much attention, an affinity for pond scum; they sound like my middle school science teacher.
On this trip, I learned a lot about flamingos from our tour guide and as it turns out, I was right. They’re pretty inefficient animals. They only lay one egg at a time, on top of a pile of mud. On the upside, the eggs can stay dormant for a long time until the conditions are right. Unfortunately, this means that the rats have more time to get to them. The chicks can’t feed themselves but also can’t eat what the adults eat so the mothers have to secrete a milky substance for them. I thought only mammals do that. The flamingos are so inefficient, they have to borrow a technique from an entirely different subset of animals? What is wrong with these creatures?
Whatever. I don’t know why I went on so long about flamingos. Sorry. Moving on.
We also went to giant tortoise breeding center where we learned interesting facts about the Galapagos tortoises.
Then we went on to a small island that was inhabited mostly by marine iguanas.
After that, we set out on the boat again and found some of the famous blue-footed boobies.
Boobies were really interesting as well. Apparently the name comes from a Spanish word (that I can’t recall) that means “stupid bird,” because, well, they’re kind of stupid. They don’t move even if you walk right up to them and yell in their faces about how pathetic they are. Also, their feet are blue as a matter of sexual selection, not because of their diet. Apparently, the bluer the feet, the better immune system they have and the more attractive they are. Although, I’m not too sure about this particular fact, because I think all boobies are attractive.
Get it? Get it?
Afterwards, we went snorkeling. Unfortunately, stupidly, I hadn’t put in my contacts before the trip, so I had to struggle for a very long time to put them in on the boat. After a while, I gave up and tried snorkeling with my glasses on. Needless to say, it didn’t work and I drank a lot of seawater. It was not the greatest ending to the trip, but I knew I had another opportunity to snorkel the next day, so I didn’t go home too disappointed. It was still a good day.
DAY 5: Snorkeling is Fucking Awesome
After the failed snorkeling attempt the previous day, I was ready to try again. But we’ll get to that when we get to that. First things first.
We had to get up at 5:15am because our ride was picking us up at the boardwalk at 6. It sucked, but we got a beautiful sunrise out of it.
We were dreading the boat ride because of our rather terrible experience with two-hour boat rides the day before. We like having our breakfasts coming out of our butts, not our mouths. Vomiting sounds even more disgusting when you put it like that, doesn’t it?
Surprisingly, the boat that we were taking this time was a lot bigger and thus, much smoother. We even got two nice meals on the boat. Which, I guess makes sense because we paid a good amount of money for this trip. And we didn’t see the meals again after we ate them.
When we finally reached Bartelome, we went on a little hike. Bartelome is a small island that is made almost completely of volcanic rock. As such, very few animals or plants live here; only those that require minimum amounts of water to survive. Strangely, there is a small portion of the island that is lush with plants and animals. I wasn’t listening when the guide explained why that was so, but it’s pretty fucking beautiful regardless.
And finally, we went snorkeling. This time, I already had my contacts in and I knew how to work a snorkel. I even had my phone in a waterproof case so I could try and take some pictures. (I’ll let you know in advance to not get your hopes up for cool pictures. It’s hard to take pictures underwater.) I was ready.
And holy shit, it was amazing.
When you’re a child, you are constantly filled with a sense of wonder simply because you experience new things so often. The first time you eat an ice cream cone, the first time you ride a bike, the first time you have a crush. All these experiences that you’ve never had before, that you’ve never seen, heard, smelled, tasted, felt before, that are completely new, can fill you with a sense of awe and glee that is unrivaled in its power.
When I saw snow for the first time, I couldn’t stop marveling at it, at how cold it was, how it slowly disappeared if I held it in my hand for too long. It was fluffy and would cushion my fall with a woomp, but I could also compact it until it was as hard as a rock that shattered into a million white pieces of dust when I threw it against a tree trunk. I could eat it, grab an entire handful and shove it into my mouth, but when it melted, it would barely be a sip of water. I could stomp around in the untouched snow, making fresh tracks that were mine and mine alone, listening to the crunch crunch crunch. I could play in the snow for hours and never mind the cold. All because it was new.
As you grow older, those new and exciting experiences become less and less frequent. You know what it feels like to climb a tree, to win a medal, to watch a sunset. And while they may still be enjoyable, that overwhelming sense of nervous excitement, of giddy wonder, just isn’t there the second time around. And so, you search for something new, just so you can have that feeling again.
I went into the water yesterday and got that feeling. I never knew that fish could be so beautiful. Bright yellow and dark blue, jet black with brown pebbling, silver streaks and the red of streetlights blurring across my path. Some came right up close to my face daring me to catch them while others hid behind rocks and inside the coral, playing a never-ending game of hide-and-seek. The sunlight that filtered through the surface glittered like stars on the scales of even the fastest of the slippery beings. Sometimes, I would forget to breathe and the burn in my legs became a mere annoyance in the back of my mind as I followed the silky smooth paths of schools of fish, flying through the warm waters.
It ended all too soon.
I did mention that the Galapagos brings out the poetic side of me. Here are some pictures, but they are pretty shitty and don’t do the experience justice at all.
You had to be there to know what I’m talking about.
On that slightly snobbish note, I will now sign off. Goodbye Galapagos, and hopefully I’ll visit again sometime.
Next stop, Cuenca. See you all there!