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Boat or Bucking Bull?

Paul 2007-01-05
Today, our Galapagos adventure comes to a close and we make the 12 hour journey back to Quito:

As I write this, we are on a boat from the remote Isabela island to Santa Cruz island. The boat, which can hold a maximum of 12 passengers, is overstuffed with 20. The other passengers sit hip to hip on the two benches running along the sides of the boat. There is a small improvised wooden bench in the middle that seats two. Joanne and I are sitting on that bench, along with a Frenchman :).

It's incredible to me that I can be thumb peck typing this on my HTC TyTN here and now. This would definitely not be possible with a laptop. I'm glad I switched.

The morning sea greeted us with 2 -3 meter waves. Unpredictably, the boat would launch off one of these waves into the air, and we suddenly find ourselves in mid-air with nothing but a long way down and gravity between us and the next WHACK!, as the boat slams back onto the sea. Each time, our butts lift off the hard seats and slam moments later back down. Ouch! Shoving the frayed (and wet) life jackets between our butts and the wooden seats offered little relief from the pounding.

Although these whacks come only every few minutes during the three hour trip, they are completely unpredictable, keeping us tensed up in anticipation for the whole ride.

As you can imagine, the smashing motion isn't what Joanne's neck needs. Thankfully, she's been symptom free for a long time, and this last week started carrying weight in her backpack. Strong like bull! Even the bucking bull motion of the boat was no match for her recovery. This bodes well for our idea to head down to the southernmost tip of South America, to Torres del Paine National Park for backpacking and camping in what some have described as one of the top 5 most beautiful nature scapes in the world!

But I digress, back to our immediate drama... The boy sitting across from me just threw up again. Judging by some of the other faces, and that they're already clutching paper towels in anticipation of cleaning up after their own contributions to the sea, I'm sure he's not the only one feeling ill.

The air is thick with the exhaust fumes from the two outboard engines. They are spewing out grey stink that's the hallmark of the low octane fuel that they have in Ecuador. The fumes are drawn forward from the engines by a vacuum effect created by the windshield. The smell itself is nauseating, but combined with the motion, well...

Uhm, that was close. As I was writing that, a wave of nausea came over me. First I put down my TyTN and looked at the horizon, hoping it would pass. But then came the squirting saliva sensation as the body lubes the way for what's coming... I urgently signaled the guy opposite to switch seats with me, so I could lean over the edge, and... Thankfully, with the blast of fresh air and reprieve from the exhaust, I started to feel better and the urge passed.

A short time later, one particularly big leap had everyone catapult half a meter into the air and land lopsided and barely upright. At that very moment a shot of pain flew up from my right foot. The wooden bench, with three people on it, had landed on, and was crushing my small toe. An instant later, I lunged forward, and with the kind of Herculean strength you're only capable of after the shot of adrenaline this kind of pain brings, lifted the bench and the three people on it off my toe. Fearing crushed bones, I give my toe a little wiggle and it moves! Luckily, miraculously, it doesn't appear to be broken. Amazing! :)

As I look up to see if everyone else was ok, I see to my left an older man on his hands and knees clutching his back. By now, the captain had slowed the boat and others were rushing to his aid, he looked cripplingly hurt. My gaze turns to Joanne as the impact of this severe a smash on her neck hits me. Thankfully, her expression tells me she's ok. After helping the man back to his feet and checking for other injuries, the captain continues on, as if nothing notable had happened. Here, none of this is out of the ordinary or remarkable.

I look up across the boat at Joanne clutching her seat and mouth: "Isn't this a great adventure!?" Her beaming smile tells me she feels the same...

As we continue to find, the best adventures lay in the journeys not the destinations.

I wonder what awaits us on the ferry boat, bus, airplane and taxi that still lay ahead today?


Permalink by penny-mom   |  January 5, 2007 06:59 PM

This reminds me of being on a roller coaster @ La Ronde .Thank G-d you are safe and back to land.Love and kisses.

Permalink by Bill Bernhaut   |  January 6, 2007 06:40 AM

Once again a masterful description that allows us to share with you the wonderful experience that you are having. Here it is raining, yes raining, the temperature is 7 degrees Celcius on Jan. 6 2007 and everything is grey, so your descriptions are very uplifting and joyful. Your pictures from the jungle were beautiful and extremely interesting. Could we impose upon you to send us a few pictures of these adventures. Keep everything coming.
Love you both xoxoxo

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