On the last full day of our excursion aboard the National Geographic Endeavor, we were fortunate enough to visit Genovesa Island. This island was closed to visitors for years because of its fragile environment. Over a million birds call Genovesa their home. There are colonies of swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed boobies, petrels, and frigatebirds. Short-eared owls hunt smaller bird prey over cracks of dried lava millions and millions of years old. The entire island is an extinct volcano slowly sinking into the sea. The center of the cone is now filled with sea and one side has been entirely eroded away so that our ship was able to sail directly into the c-shaped center. The only word I could come up with to describe its landscape is “otherworldly.”
My father-in-law asked me what my impressions were of this trip compared with other trips we have taken as a family. We’ve been treated to trips to England, Alaska’s Inside Passage, Norway, and now the Galapagos Islands. Hands down, this has been my favorite trip. When I told other people I was going to the Galapagos, their responses were always the same. I was told repeatedly, “That’s the trip of a lifetime.” The truth is, though, that it’s not the trip of a lifetime because that implies we will only ever visit these islands once. I want to come back to this place again someday, maybe in another season, maybe to visit a few different islands, but I definitely want to return. I completely understand how the naturalists here never tire of their job. This place is enchanting. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m having a hard time with the reality of leaving these islands. Tears have been shed. But, that just proves that these islands are beyond the trip of a lifetime. They are the love of a lifetime, and I will have to return to them again someday.