Friends had told me that the Galapagos were amazing and indescribable, and I now understand why. Our naturalist guide, Jose, has so much good information to provide. But the scenery and the wildlife are so visually stimulating that I can’t take my eyes off of them to concentrate on what he’s saying.
What an odd and wonderful assortment of wildlife resides here, from iguanas, tortoises, sea lions and penguins to boobies, finches and frigates. They’re characters befitting a Disney cartoon world. And they’re fearless of humans and curious about us, too. They stay within feet of us, often acting as if they’re posing for our cameras.
Turns out that these islands have the same volcanic origins as the Hawaiian island chain. But it’s very dry. So instead of palm trees, the most common vegetation here is cactus. We hike and snorkel every day, and my first time underwater I saw a shark, a ray and a sea turtle. Playful sea lions swam within inches of me, wanting to interact, and there are colorful fish everywhere you look.
The isolation of these islands is seen as the reason for so many endemic species; animals and plants that exist only here. And this is where Charles Darwin developed his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection after observing how wildlife has adapted and survived.
The Galapagos are comprised of 19 islands and 42 ‘islets’ (small islands) that straddle the equator. But only four are inhabited. Today is our one day of ‘civilization’. I’m in a cyber café in the archipelago’s most populous city now, but I must go. I’m anxious to return to nature . . .