Monday, July 28, 2014

Trekking In the Galapagos

Take it from me. It’s no picnic for an octogenarian on the equator in the noonday sun even in these new boots bought for the trip. Not on this jagged lava rock with orange-eyed gulls overhead and iguanas below.  

But the mating dance of blue-footed boobies is spectacular. Who knew the females got such a turn-on with shades running from azure to aqua to periwinkle? Remind me to buy some blue-suede shoes. You had to be there to experience the century old tortoises and the guiltless load they carry. Even penguins, seemingly with no sense of direction, were spotted. This is the only place in the world above the equator where they call home. Then there are the sea lions up-close and the scuba-diving going nose-to-nose with yellow-tailed razor surgeon fish and other species I’d only seen in tanks at the Chinese restaurant. I shall always remember it as great trip but exhausting.

Which is why I never did go gallivanting to Galapagos particularly since I could sit in this rec room viewing photos from friends Judy and Len taken on a National Geographic cruise without breaking a sweat. No missed connections, pesky tour-mates, jet lag or worry about stray rockets.

The islands looked paradisial with finch chirping, reef puffer fish gurgling, Sally Lightfoot crabs crawling and iguanas with faces that couldn’t launch even a single ship. …and no predators, except dumb humans.

We were told that one island has a resident population of 30,000 therefore trouble could not be far off. Those who aren’t in a witness-protection program or selling T-shirts, are fisherman who have apparently over-fished the waters leaving a meager portion for certain shore-birds. The National Park Service may have to restrict the haul of sardines. In turn the fisherman threaten to bring back pigs and feral goats which once roamed the island when three goats swelled to 40,000 about 50 years ago. They have since been eliminated after gobbling the vegetation which ended the species of Pinta island giant tortoises.

Lonesome George, the last of his kind, died two years ago around his one–hundredth birthday…though he may have lied about his age. There was another tortoise, named Harriet, which lived 188 years. She died in 1985 and was inching along to greet Charles Darwin in 1835. It was here that Darwin noted a variety of finches with different sized beaks adaptive to various islands in the chain. Out of this came his theory of Natural Selection.

I can hardly wait for Judy and Len’s next trip to the canyons of Manhattan where the wolves of Wall St. tangle with the bulls and bears while the elephant in the room looks on. And then there is the zoo. With Judy’s sharp eye and intrepid shots down dark alleys while dangling from lamp posts and Len’s indefatigable technical support I never have to leave home again. They expect to take in some artisanal eateries and I’m salivating already. Also scheduled is a boat ride to the Noguchi museum across the river into my old borough. Maybe they'll run into one of my childhood friends hobbling along like a tortoise. I’m counting on them to send me off on another flight of fancy.

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