This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere. The dew is never all dried at once. A shower is forever falling. Vapour is forever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset. Eternal dawn and glowing, on the sea and continents and islands, each in its turn as the earth rolls. And for this I am forever grateful to be alive.

- John Muir

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Day 2: Monday May 15, 2000
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We’re awakened at 06:30 in our cabins by music on which I will not comment. At 06:45, the morning announcement proclaims that our first shipboard buffet breakfast will be waiting for us at 07:00. During these reliably excellent meals, the Marine Expeditions “pax” (travel biz jargon for “passengers”) begin to coalesce into a team.

click once for larger imageLynda and I have already spent some time in Quito with Jon, who has traveled from California—where they do have sea lions, and from where some of the Galapagos sea lions are said to originate. Phyllis comes from Ottawa, and is a seasoned Marine Expeditions traveler, having done the Arctic cruise which I was keen to hear about. Paul joins our table for the first couple of days, but his voice carries easily to the next table, where the rest of the Canadian contingent, Richard and Nancy and their daughters Susannah and Tiffany, are hearing his stories for the first time. They’ll hear them again when the seating changes, as Paul assures us that he only has about twelve stories that he just keeps repeating. This proves to be at least somewhat true, but we remain entertained.


click once for larger image The pax have been divided into smaller groups to help organize the order of the landing parties. Group A are labeled “Albatrosses”, Group B are “Boobies”, then “Cormorants” and finally “Dolphins”. When this system was announced yesterday, I was proud and delighted to find myself in the “Boobies” group. Others were less enthusiastic, but soon warmed to the name, and to the jokes that never did get old. There would eventually be plans for a Boobies theme song.


click once for larger imageMonday morning’s landing is wet, which means we step from the stern of the panga into the shallow water near shore. Sandals, swimwear and snorkeling gear are called for. And cameras. The Boobies are first to go ashore this morning, and so the beach is pristine. The perfect landscape of white sand and black lava, the sideways-scurrying crabs, and the mostly snoozing sea lions keep me busy changing lenses and framing shots. But all that tranquility finally works on me, and I soon become less concerned with bagging the perfect picture and instead find myself just floating along in the moment. I only take about thirty pictures that morning...


click once for larger imageBack on board and underway prior to lunch, we are treated to a circumnavigation of the dramatically cleft Kicker Rock, then continue southwest to Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. By now, we’re getting into some large waves, but the Boobies are coping!


click once for larger imageThe panga ride to the landing at Punta Suarez is a lively one, with large swells that only once in a while crash over the bow of the small craft. After negotiating a tricky volcanic reef, we put ashore only to find the path blocked by a dozen sea lion layabouts. Lest we disturb these delicate behemoths, we are obliged to tiptoe along the slippery rocks to one side of the path while the dozing beasts barely raise a curious eye. One woman decides she finds the rocks scarier than the sea lions and in complete defiance of the rules, walks the path, disturbing several animals. No harm done, but she was lucky she didn’t get head-butted into the rocks. By the guides.

click once for larger imageAfter a brief look around, the main group prepares to start the walk. Phyllis and I had elected to return to the panga for a water-level view of the cliffs and blowhole. The initial crossing was now prompting second thoughts on that score, but back we go to the panga with Paul and some other non-Boobies. As Eric the panga driver negotiates the waves with reassuring calmness, the conditions seem to worsen. I’ve never been in waves that scary. One of the non-Boobies on board offers up her lunch as a sacrifice, and perhaps it works, because against all odds we eventually return safely to the ship.

Meanwhile, those on the main walk are treated to a much closer view of the waved albatross than we had from the panga. Espanola Island is the only place in the world where these birds nest, and like the boobies they are displaying full courtship behavior today, beaks clashing and heads bobbing and weaving. Not to mention the hilariously inelegant crash landings. Not getting to see this is the one thing I regret, but the week is young.

Eventually everyone is back on board, and we bob and weave our own way along the pitching and rolling decks as the ship gets underway to Santa Cruz Island, tomorrow’s first stop. It already feels like we’ve been here forever, and like we never have to leave. I’m rocked to sleep by the ship, and dream of calmer waters.

Day 2 (recap)
07:00 breakfast
08:00 San Cristobal Island (Cerro Brujo) - wet landing
10:30 return to ship
11:30 circumnavigation of Kicker Rock
12:30 lunch

film on Galapagos Islands in main bar

16:00 Espanola Island (Punta Suarez) - dry landing
18:30 return to ship
19:30 briefing on tomorrow's visits to Santa Cruz Island
20:00 dinner
21:30 live music and dancing (or off to bed)
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