Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Right Place

Today, Howard and I had coffee in the perfect place for our weekly talk.  It was lovely, quiet, and had good coffee.  The atmosphere, combined with our converging needs to philosophize about life and goals, made for a great hour.  

Of course.  We found the perfect weekly coffee place for us 2 weeks before leaving Quito.  

Life's just like that sometimes, huh?  We'll enjoy it while we can!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Favorite Morning in Galapagos

The day we were on Isabela, we spent the morning (from 8-1:30) walking up and back from "Volcan Chica" in the Sierra Negra.  It drizzled part of the way up, and rained steadily at least half of the way back.  The mud was not fun, nor was being drenched when we got back.  But oh my, it was good to walk, and the scenery was stunning (well, once the fog lifted).

(This is Galapagos Cotton)

Some of the openings from the lava are so warm that it's like standing by a wood stove...

 Our guide--Daniel, seen here--explained that they can tell how long ago an eruption happened partly by how much plant growth there is.  For example: this cactus only grows about 1 cm./year.

This picture shows the different eruptions--the reddish clay is from the older eruption (that's where cacti and other plants grew).  The black is from a 1979 eruption, with hardly any plant growth anywhere.

It's amazing to me how such a harsh environment can be so beautiful.

One of my favortie pics of Sam, trying to get a safe shot of one of the canyons.

Mr. Bobo, of course, made an appearance

Wee Anya was tired by the time we were returning, and got to ride a horse for much of the way back.

Good walk.  Grubby sneakers.
Ended up throwing these out.

A good trip.  A unique environment.  I'm glad we went.  

Friday, May 24, 2013


I love the Andes, and as I've blogged before: I'm in love with our view in Quito.  But going to the Galapagos made me realize how much I missed being near the ocean.  And the trip in general--whether it was standing on the shore, snorkeling, swimming in a lagoon (forgot pictures there)...or even just floating in the pool at the hotel--well, this trip reminded me that I love water.  

Despite my dislike of being in a bathing suit on the beach, this experience just might get me to the beaches in Maine this summer, if for no other reason than to be in water.  

What joy have you rediscovered lately?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shouldn't they be in Tokyo???

Clearly, whoever came up with the idea for Godzilla had to have seen marine iguanas.  I have about 640 pictures of them, I think.  I'll share just a few here.

They pile up on each other (as in this last picture above) in order to keep warm, being cold blooded.  Marine iguanas live only on the Galapagos, where they can be found in huge numbers and in many different shore locations.  

There are also land iguanas, but we only saw those in captivity, in the Santa Cruz turtle breeding center:

One also sees little lizards running around all over the place in the Galapagos, including on sidewalks and around the pool in the hotel.  I didn't get too many pictures of them, because they are quick little buggers. Here's one from one of our tour walks:

I'm not fond of hot weather, but these were some cool creatures...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lobos and Penguinos


Sea lions--lobos del mar (sea wolves)--are just about everywhere on the Galapagos.  On shore, they are essentially "rock potatoes" that laze about and bask in the sun.  In the water, they are active, playful, and just stunning to watch in action.  

I did catch sight of one, briefly, underwater on one of our snorkeling trips.  Even more surprising and delightful was what happened one evening when Anya and I went to the beach on Isabela for a 1/2 hour before dinner.  I was strict with the girl, only letting her go up to her knees or so because the pull of the tide was strong (she is not a strong swimmer as yet).  To make up for this imposed limitation, she started riding the waves in to shore.  After about 15 min of this, a sea lion (looked like a youth--small) swam up within about 1-2 yards of her.  Not sure how truly "friendly" they are, I had her back up a bit, and it swam away.  I think he/she was curious about the human child that was playing in the waves as if she were a sea lion herself!  

And of course--I did not have my camera b/c I was keeping an eye on my own little playful creature.

And then there are Galapagos penguins.  Cute, like all penguins--and again, amazing to watch when swimming.  One of the few benefits of waiting for boats to take us between islands was that we could watch penguins and sea lions swimming in the harbor.  We also got to see pelicans torpedo-dive for fish (very cool).  No pics of pelicans in the air, but here's one by the shore:
I have come to the conclusion that pelicans are to the Galapagos what seagulls are to the New England coast: rats with wings.  But, not being from the Galapagos, I found pelicans much more delightful and interesting than seagulls.

It was not all positive with these creatures in the water and near the shore, though.  Upon our return from one trip, we saw this sea lion on the dock:
It had somehow lost its tail...which means that, by now, it's probably dead.  Terribly sad.  We tell the kids--and ourselves--that this is all cycle of life, the truth of nature.  And it is.  But somehow it's still hard to see those sweet lobos in this kind of condition.  

Tomorrow: black beasts...