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Meredith’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 18 Feb 2007

Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

MapOnce upon a time

I´ll tell you how it ended first. It was the last night and we were up on deck waiting for sunset and sipping caprinhas. A pod of whales surfaced to play in our bow sprit. The captain turned tiller and we bobbed around in sunlit rapture for 30 minutes. One of the pod swam under the hull of our catermaran and made eye contact. I couldn´t have scripted it better.

But let me rewind to the beginning. The Galapagos Islands are all about beginnings. The beginning of time no less because it was these enchanted islands that inspired Darwin´s thoughts about evolution and the Origin of Species.

I and 9 other wildlife paparazzi spent 7 days at sea following the celebrities of the Galapagos: sea lions, seals, blue footed boobies, turtles, sharks, tropical fish, frigate birds, land and sea iguanas, red crabs and pelicans. I didn´t even need a telephoto lense because I was in touching distance to all.

My favourite chapters included:

Snorklling at Devil´s Crown

The Devil´s Crown is a submerged volcanic crater that is teaming with sealife and circling seabirds. We sped there on our zodiac wearing flippers and masks. In choppy water we jacques cousteau-ed it off the back of the zodiac. It was strangly calm below. A sea turtle swam by serenely and a couple of sharks were curious. I followed the turtle for a few mintues then I had fun for awhile playing undersea choreographer to the stars as the schools of fish changed direction on my order. I played with lithe seals that were more in control of their flippers then I was of mine.

Sea Lion Visitation

At midnight we were woken by the unmistakable sound of sealion gawappping. Then a flipper appeared in our open cabin hatch. A very serious discussion followed about how one would exactly remove a slippery sealion from the bed and whether it was clever enough to remove its flipper if we shut the hatch. So I went up in deck wrapped in a sheet and discovered 5 more marauding sealions slopping about on deck. I chased two off the stern and then jumped out of my skin when I spied what I thought was a huge bull sitting on the trampoline at the bow. I snuck back to the cabin. But in the morning there was a duvet on the tramp I heard that the cook often sleeps on deck !

Blue Footed Boobies

We were there during Boobie mating season and watched several hilarious dance routines less than a metre away.

The Boobie equivalent of a bunch of red roses is 12 carefully selected twigs. The male waddles around the female and hopes to entice her with a twig or two. She of course does her best to look disinterested in both the sticks and his bright blue webbed feet. He whistles "come here honey", she honks back "you´ll need to do better than that pathetic pile of branches". He clearly doesn´t realise that he looks like he has stepped in smurf poo.