It’s been an incredible week here on board the National Geographic Endeavor, but my favorite parts of the trip have occurred off the ship out with the wildlife. It’s unbelievable how many birds, fish, and reptiles I’ve seen up close and personal in nature. I don’t know that I had actually contemplated how this trip might change me after witnessing life outside myself in this way. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to try deep sea snorkeling. While out on our swim, I watched a sea turtle underwater. I never thought I would try deep sea snorkeling, much less see a sea turtle while doing it. I’ve had an entire week to explore this unique world and expand my horizons. I’m definitely changed.
I love things that make me feel small and insignificant, things that take me outside my petty concerns in day-to-day life. I appreciate being reminded that I am just a cog in a much larger machine because then all my worries become trivial. Life on this planet is incredibly precious and here it’s easy to see how tenuous it is. When I’m having a tough day, going forward I will remember that only those who are able to change and adapt are able to survive. And, that’s not a theory…it’s a fact.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit the city of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. This is where the Charles Darwin Research Station is located and where we would have been able to meet Lonesome George had he survived just 40 days longer. Alas, no George. Still, the station was well worth the trip as we were able to learn about the breeding program designed to increase the population of giant tortoises around the islands.
After our visit to the station, we were able to spend some time wandering around the town. Approximately 20,000 people live here, so it’s less of a town and more of a city, I suppose. Still, compared to Denver, it’s small. The best part of the day (well, aside from standing in the Santa Cruz highlands just feet from giant tortoises) was a small fish market we encountered in town. There was a crowd of tourists gathered with cameras when we got there. There were the usual fish market thieves (pelicans) and this time there were a couple other added guests…sea lions. They stood at the foot of the fish counter where the fish were being cut and begged like dogs at a table for scraps. Cutest thing ever. A fellow passenger on the cruise told me yesterday that he read that sea lions here are like dogs in wet suits. No wonder I like them so much.