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Galapagos Wild

Paul 2006-12-22
As we often would, we sat at Mango Tree, our favorite Quito coffee house / loungy restaurant / indoor garden terrace on Foch y Amazonas to sip and think about our next move. Its quintessential atmosphere of tropical plants, a huge sunroof, the sweet smell of coffee and freshly baked cinnamon rolls are further enhanced by the great Latin music and relaxed attitude of its lovely staff and brightened by the spirit of their director, Sophia.

We chatted with her about our holiday plans - rather our lack of any plans. Before we knew it, we agreed that the Galapagos would be a great place to spend the holidays. We jumped on the idea, and with her help here we are!

So for the last few days, we've been soaking in the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands - 1000km west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, where Charles Darwin formed his theory of evolution after seeing how the life on each of these islands - which never touched any continent - evolved differently than everywhere else.

Photo: Scary looking but beautifully calm (2006/12/21 15:37)
Photo: Tortuga Bay Beach, Galapagos (2006/12/21 13:03)
Photo: Mangroves growing at the beach - can you see the iguana (2006/12/21 15:27)
Photo: Comfortable spot (2006/12/21 15:35)
Photo: Family of iguanas (2006/12/21 15:33)
Photo: Quiet mangrove bay (2006/12/21 15:54)

Want more photos? See the whole Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos photo set on flickr or see it as a slideshow

It's absolutely amazing to see what a few billion years of evolution specific to these small islands is like. For example, islands with black lava rocks have black iguanas, while those with brown have ... yes! brown iguanas!

It's tough to beat the sense of being one with nature that's there for the having in the jungle, but let me tell you, being around these animals - who haven't learned to fear man - is right up there... Some come right up to you, and you can go right up to most of them without them doing more than looking at you as curiously as you look at them. Wow.

We just woke up from a nap after scuba diving at Seymour Island, where we watched 25 meters underwater as a sea lion played with a starfish a meter from us, showing off for a few minutes, dozens of sharks (White Tipped and Galapagos sharks) swam around us, floated transfixed as a school of huge manta rays gracefully glided past our bubbles, a dozen species of large fish, eel, starfish and school after school of fish swimming near, around, above and completely around us!

Photo: Cactus trees (2006/12/21 15:48)
Photo: Paul with a sea iguana (2006/12/21 13:37)
Photo: Two curious birds (2006/12/21 14:48)
Photo: Fearless finch (2006/12/21 14:56)
Photo: Marine iguana (2006/12/21 15:08)
Photo: Marine iguana closeup (2006/12/21 15:09)

Yesterday, we both sizzled to a burnt crisp under the hot, hot, hot equatorial sun at Tortuga Bay beach, whose crystal waters and perfect white sand are home to the huge tortoises' nesting grounds. It was soooo nice to feel the sand between our toes and swim in the perfect water, undisturbed by any development at all, a thousand kilometers from the nearest human population center. Untouched natural paradise!

We're about to go study some more Spanish together while sipping our coffee and tea overlooking the azul sea. After which we have a date with some sushi in a mangrove garden where the lava rock meets the Pacific... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Wishing you all the happiest holidays!


Permalink by Gug   |  December 23, 2006 06:35 AM

I am so happy to see you recharging your batteries, I can feel the warmth. You'll be just fine. Christmas will touch you in the passing only :)

Permalink by Ruth & Bill   |  December 23, 2006 07:20 AM

Totally fascinating and unbelievable. Why can't you get one of the friendly iguanas to snap a picture of the two of you. Now that would be evolutionary!!! We are so so so so jealous of you guys and enjoying your experiences.....

Permalink by BeeBeeQueen and Chiquita   |  December 26, 2006 02:08 PM

hey guys! you forgot to mention that you bumped into two familiar-but-strangelooking white-assed northerners on your way to the scubadiving-centre in Puerto Ayora!!

:) Happy merry christmas (as they say in spanglish at the airport)

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