Galapagos, Ecuador

What are the images you see in your mind when you think of Galapagos? Tortoises? Lizards? For me, it’s finches. Finches from a poster my third-grade Biology teacher put up on the blackboard of all the different finches that can be found on the islands. You know, Darwin’s famous finches?

Finches. Birds. Small birds at that. I’m not a small bird person. I guess it’s safe to say I’m not a bird person at all.

Blue footed boobies in Galapagos

Except for these guys. These guys are cool.

Blue footed boobies, Galapagos

So many of these guys doing their silly mating dance.

Maybe that’s why Galapagos has never made it into my ‘bucket list’ But when the opportunity to visit these islands presented itself, it just felt right. We thought a ‘vacation’ from the constant planning would be nice. And Jack, a water baby, was excited at the possibility to be around water again.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos

A water baby, feeling right at home.

So we handed off a big lump sump of money to a travel agent (quite literally since they take only cash) and walked away with a reservation for a flight and a cruise to Galapagos in hand.

Despite the seasickness, I’m glad we went. What I read about Galapagos has piqued my curiosity and to have had that lingering itch left unscratched would’ve driven me crazy. I’m glad we went because we saw more than just finches and birds (and oh, we saw thousands of them. If you’re into birds you’d feel like you’d died and gone to heaven. Check out this video).

Marine iguana sunworshipping, Galapagos

Like this marine iguana

Marine iguana clan, Galapagos

and his extended family

The uniqueness of Galapagos was forever subtle. An undertone to the experience as opposed to a force that overwhelms. Except for those many times we almost stepped on some random birds or lizards (they just would not move). Those times reminded us that we were somewhere special.

And of course only in Galapagos you’d walk into a pair of humping male land tortoises,

Humping male land tortoises, Galapagos

The sceneries of the islands were stark and at times, ominous. Ominous because it would look like the kind of place so hostile no life should exist, but they do. And in abundance.

Bartolome Island, Galapagos

Except for this island (Bartolome). Made up of mostly volcanic ash, little live here except for some hardy lizards.

Galapagos was a place that requires contexts and post-trip digestion to fully appreciate.

The appreciation grew, for example, when I learned each island produces its own species of land tortoises and you can tell them apart by the shape of its shell. Or when I realized that Galapagos has never been part of any mainland which made one wonder, ‘How did these animals get there in the first place?

It grew even more when I learned that there is such a thing asVampire Finch‘ – which is unique to only two of the islands. I’m pretty sure if my biology teacher had mentioned this, I would’ve been way more interested in birds.

Galapagos seems to be full of these interesting anomalies and mysteries of natures yet to be solved. Learning about them definitely helped me see what makes these islands so special.

In terms of the animals – well, it’s true what they say, they let you get really close. Like this close…

A land iguana in South Plaza, Galapagos