Monday, March 2, 2009

Return to the Galapagos

We are anchored near Santiago Island in the Galapagos. I am not sure if I am seasick or not. I feel queasy and dizzy and am not sure dinner was a good idea. I am reminded that each time I take this trip I find myself unsettled. I don't actually get ill, I am simply aware that when we finally get to terra firma after three or four days, I feel relieved.

This is my fourth trip to the Galapagos, and each visit is an entirely new experience. We walked on the northern tip of Santa Cruz island, and saw marine iguanas, sea lions, flamingos and huge ugly orange coloured land iguanas. I forgot my long lens on the boat, which is unusual for me, and I subsequently saw the sights through a very different lens than I am accustomed to.

I am confused by my reaction to the islands. They are stark and severe and ragged and their beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is remarkable that the animals have so little fear of humans and stay in place for photographs. It is like a zoo without barriers. I look for evidence of evolution but it takes imagination to see what Darwin saw and understand how he came to his conclusions.

We will be snorkeling tomorrow morning and again in the afternoon. I enjoy the snorkeling but I am always a little frightened too. We snorkel in the deep water with no shore to aim for, there are seals and penguins and sea lions charging past us, sometimes huge sea turtles and sharks which we stay away from. The waves are often huge and I try not to stray too far from the pangas. Last year I was impressed with my daughter Maya who was eight years old at the time and insisted on joining us for the snorkeling. She stayed close to the students and to Eric, but at one point she got cold and began to shake uncontrollably. She seemed excited and overwhelmed and scared and thrilled all at the same time. I can relate to that feeling.

I am worried about our visit to the Galapagos. I read so much about the damage that the tourists inflict on the animals and the islands. Yet the tourist industry is also what makes it possible to preserve the islands. I feel more than usually conscious of the negative impact of human beings on the earth, yet humans are part of this earth of ours too. I understand that at the rate we are going we will destroy everything in a few thousand years, and that it is too late to do much about such a disaster. There are so many places in the world that ought to be preserved, not just the Galapagos. Being here somehow brings all this to consciousness, and I am anxious and fearful.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog news are wonderful. You are so lucky to be in the Galapagos Islands for four times already. This Archipelago is the most incredible living museum of evolutionary changes, with a huge variety of exotic species (birds, land animals, plants) and landscapes not seen anywhere else.