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the cure for anything is salt water a galapagos adventure by stefani hite

A Galapagos Islands Adventure U August 2010

T h e cu re f o r a n y t hin g i s sa lt wa t e r — sw e a t , t e a rs , o r t he s e a . ~Isak Dinesen August 22 Bright and early we got up at 5AM and ate a quick breakfast before heading to the airport. The flight from Guayaquil was short but bumpy, nothing but ocean below. We arrived on Balta Island, not much more than an airstrip. The “terminal” was just a roofed enclosure surrounded by a few t-shirt and trinket shops. A short bus ride brought us to a zodiac landing area. While we waited, we were treated to our first encounter with noisy sea lions, pelicans, and frigate birds. After a lesson in donning a life vest, we clambered into the zodiac and sailed to the Islander. It was small but comfortable with a terrific upper deck for lounging and watching the islands float by. We had an introductory session and a practice emergency drill. After lunch we set sail! En route to our first stop we spotted sea turtles and a hammerhead shark — very cool! We arrived at North Seymour Island — a flat, small volcanic island covered in boulders. The walking paths were clearly defined to protect the ecosystem. At first I was disappointed that this would limit our opportunities to see the animals, but it turns out they are so unafraid of humans that they sleep, nest, and walk right near the path. We watched sea lions, land iguanas, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds ... and other birds, but I quickly lost track! The boobies were in full swing, whistling, honking, and dancing to attract mates. The frigate birds expand a large red sac on their throats and spread their wings wide to attract the females — quite elaborate!

It was a pretty thrilling two-mile walk and our guide Juan Carlos gave us just the right amount of information as we moved along the path. Just as we arrived at the end of the island, the sun began to set, casting red gold light over everything. We sprinted to catch the zodiac before it became completely dark. A full moon rose in the sky. As we sailed back to our boat, a sea lion frolicked in the waves, silver glinting off his slick fur, and welcomed us home. August 23 The day started crazy early with a quick cup of coffee at 6AM and then a zodiac ride to Bartholomé Island. Almost no vegetation or animals — the ancient volcano core is still fairly intact and the lava trails are clearly visible — including some lava tubes. The spiral created by the flowing lava created a clear path to the pinnacle, now covered with a boardwalk and steps. Even so ... it was quite a steep climb to the top, with a few breathless rests at platforms along the way. The views from on high were spectacular, the sun rising dramatically and spotlighting the surrounding islands.

Descending was almost rougher than walking up because the steps were slippery with volcanic ash. We saw a few clumps of pioneer vegetation ... the first to take route on the barren volcanic surface was a cactus with a name that sounded like tequila. We spotted a few tiny lizards (pioneers as well?) and some brilliant red crabs sunning on the black rocks. As we stepped down to board our zodiac, a mother sea lion expressed her displeasure at how close we came to her baby. Of course they had chosen to sleep right on our path off the island. Then, breakfast (yes, the climb, hike, and boat ride were all pre-breakfast!). Most difficult task of the day was the search for wet suits and flippers among the selection offered by the crew. After squeezing into our sausage casings, we waddled to our zodiacs to head for the red-gold sandy beach at the foot of BartholomĂŠ. Tentatively, with great grace and elegance, we donned our flippers and masks and dipped ourselves into the Pacific Ocean. (Of course grace had nothing to do with our entry ... we flopped and flummoxed our way off the beach until we finally

got into water deep enough to swim) Within a few minutes we were paddling happily along the shore and spotting beautiful, brightly colored fish. King angel, puffer, parrot — the other snorkelers were excitedly naming every creature, but I had no clue who was who or what was what. But it didn’t matter at all. At one point I found myself surrounded by an entire school of iridescent turquoise fish. I raised my head to announce my discovery and came face to face with a sea lion lolling on the sunny rocks. We only saw one penguin... a lonely fellow shivering on the wet rocks near the water. Apparently penguins molt and for two weeks they must stay out of the water while their new feathers grow in, fasting the entire time. No wonder he looked lonely and miserable, and so out of place. Our lunch was an Ecuadorian feast — an absolutely delightful sampling of local special occasion foods. There was corn mixed with eggs, fish in coconut sauce, roast pork, plantains, and miniscule potatoes ... it was all exotic and familiar at the same time – and absolutely delicious. Fausto joined us for lunch and explained all the foods. He described Tre Leche Cake – a vanilla sponge soaked in condensed milk, evaporated, and whole milk (hence the “tre”). It was velvety and decadent, made more exotic by its accompaniment of star fruit compote. We lounged around on the upper deck until it was time for a walk on Puerto Egas. This involved a wet landing and then some hiking, so we spent a good deal of time trying to coax sand out of our sandals. Our groups were spaced too closely together, so Fausto took us down to

the beach and we passed the time observing a family of sea lions. With the animals right there for illustration, Fausto told us of their history and physiology. Sea lions came to Galapagos originally from North America (think California) but have now adapted to the point where they are considered Galapagos Sea Lions. Fausto explained their anatomy – that they are actually have shoulders and “arms” and “legs” so they can walk on land. All the while we were watching, fascinated, a male sea lion snorted and fussed as he kept three females in order. When he got a bit over zealous in asserting his leadership role, we set off on our walk. Darwin only spent about five weeks in the Galapagos and only 19 days on the islands themselves. Of the 19, nine were spent on the island we were exploring. Most of his specimens came from Santiago, including some of the famous finches. While strolling the path made of volcanic ash, we came to a rocky beach. You could clearly see the way the lava formed an elegant rocky coast and that water had now eroded it into alien shapes and bizarre contours. As the sun set in the east, casting red and gold lights on the glistening shore, we watched hundreds of marine iguanas, crabs, more sea lions, hawks, and warblers. While we walked, Cory remarked on how the quietude – no noise pollution at all (just the occasional sea lion grunt). We watched the sun sink below the horizon and then quickly made our way back to the zodiac as the light grew scarce. We sailed through the darkening cove as the full moon rose in the sky and its light danced on the waves in a cove formerly frequented by pirates due to its size and location. There is no describing the joy and exhilaration of racing over the darkening waves. What a pleasant and to our adventures that day.

August 24 Today was the most “touristy” day we had. Bright and early we headed into Santa Cruz, the only major inhabited island in the archipelago. Our first stop was at the Charles Darwin Station. Aura provided us with a detailed history of the island’s flora – that the first settlers introduced many nonnative plants that proved disastrous for the endemic species. Interestingly, the first settlers’ greatest desire was to bring ornamental plants to an environment that naturally bore few flowers. Now those plants are hugely problematic – in particular, raspberries. As a result, the National Park grows baby plants of the endemic species and makes them available to the residents at very low cost. They’ll even design an entire garden for someone willing to give up the raspberries! From the nursery, we moved on to the Station where Galapagos tortoises are bred. We were introduced to the story of lonesome George, an ancient tortoise and the last of his species. We also learned of the program developed to save the tortoises. When only a few remained and they weren’t breeding, a call for tortoises around the world helped locate a few that had been “relocated” across the globe. As a result, Diego (a tortoise resident of the San Diego Zoo) became primarily responsible for the renewal of the tortoise population in the Galapagos. We wandered Darwin Station, snapping obligatory photos of the adults and babies. Very cute, but it was too much like visiting a zoo after days of being on a Galapagos safari. We then had a few hours to wander the town – enough time to buy a few t-shirts. And, of course, a stop at the post office and grocery store (two places we make a point of visiting in any new country).

Both were tiny and a little disappointing ... not as many delights to offer as we had hoped. A long bus ride later and we arrived at a gigantic lava tube in the hills. We climbed down a slick and treacherous wooden ladder and found ourselves ... in a cave. Okay. We trudged to the other end, climbed up another slick and treacherous ladder to arrive at a restaurant. Conveniently located. The buffet lunch was designed for tourists ... of course everything we experienced in Galapagos was highly designed and regimented – but there’s something to the fact that the animals are not in cages, and when you visit the islands, you see what you see. On Santa Cruz, we were definitely feeling “handled.” Again, another bus ride to see tortoises “in the wild.” We wandered paths of an old farm, and there they were – slow moving and munching on grass, nonplussed by our presence. As we wandered the paths and snapped photos, it was kind of like hunting for rocks. They are extraordinary animals, to be sure ... but somehow it was a little deflating. Another bus ride and a visit to some gigantic craters formed by volcanic cooling (imagine air bubbles creating a fragile shell that collapsed – but on the scale of a football field). One more bus ride and back to the dock, a zodiac ride, and return to the boat. Phew.

August 25 We woke up ridiculously early and headed up to the sky deck as we sailed to the top of Isabella Island. We were treated to visions of frolicking sea lions, massive jellyfish, and lolling sea turtles as we sailed by. Then we spotted whales! No breaches ... but we must have sailed through a very active pod – there were spouts everywhere. Before heading down to breakfast, we were visited by an enormous manta ray who swam with the boat for miles. After breakfast, we took part in a ceremony to celebrate crossing the equator. The kids on board were all dressed up as pirates and galloped on deck brandishing swords. They ordered us to bow down on one knee before King Neptune – a tiny man dressed in a toga and sporting a long white beard (although he suspiciously resembled Fausto). King Neptune commanded us to limbo under the equator line (a colorful ribbon held aloft by the pirates). It was a jolly, windy, choppy morning on deck as we sailed across 0’ latitude.

Then came the best part of the day – first we sailed out in zodiacs to search for mola mola, turtles and sea lions. We spotted all three and returned, exhilarated, to the boat. We donned our wet suits and returned to the shore to snorkel along the coast. Lots of fish and sea turtles – at one point, a frisky sea lion shot past us. Cory and I opened our mouths and gasped, losing our snorkels and swallowing sea water in the process. We laughed uproariously and happily swam back to the zodiac. After lunch we sailed to Fernandina Island – the most pristine in the archipelago. We walked along lava flows that clearly showed the results of volcanic activity (in fact, the most recent eruption was just the previous year). Tremendous numbers of marine iguanas swam up to the shore and lolled in the sun. They flopped across the flat, warm rocks and steamed, snorting salt water from their nostrils. Many sea lion families showed that they could be just as dysfunctional as humans – children badgering parents, mothers reprimanding the young, and males asserting their dominance. We strolled along the shore, and in the blink of an eye, a penguin shot by chasing fish for dinner. We sat for a while watching a group of flightless cormorants nesting. They impressed me so much, a true symbol of natural adaptation and evolution. Cormorants are common fishing birds the world over. In fact they are slave labor in Japan, harnessed to catch fish for humans. They dive deep and snatch fish off a river bottom, then bring them up to shore. Cormorants are all over Galapagos, but on this one particular island, the current is a uniquely consistent cold temperature – so the food supply never varies. As a result, the birds’ wings have reduced in size so that they could become better divers ... the birds no longer needing wings to fly to a fresh food source. Smaller wings mean more efficient swimming, and so now the cormorants on this island are completely flightless.

As we watched them in their post-dinner stance, tiny wings outstretched to dry in the waning sun, I marveled at this living evidence of natural adaptation. It was a thrill to see it in person. The night was glorious and we finally got a chance to look at southern star formations as the clouds parted. We saw Rigel in the Scorpio constellation, and Jupiter was quite clear. But it was very unfamiliar, almost like being on another planet ... and that was thrilling in its own way. August 26 We began traveling at 5AM and by 8:30 we were ready to disembark for southern Isabella island. We prepared for a 2-mile rough terrain hike over lava and soft volcanic ash. Isabella is unique because it has experienced an “uplift” ... an extreme burst of lava pushed the ocean floor several miles inland. As a result when you hike inland you wander among giant coral as you walk over what was previously ocean floor. We were treated to visits form some land iguanas and were fortunate enough to spot a female tortoise. However, the island is unfortunately infested with wasps and covered with thorny bushes. That, combined with the treacherous footing, made for quite an uncomfortable walk. I’m glad I did it, but I was glad when it was over. As we sailed toward Punta Moreno, the seas became choppier and the winds picked up – it became very cold. We were now much closer to the open ocean waters and not as protected as when nearby the other islands in the Archipelago. I was reading “Honeymoon With My Brother” while sailing. The author describes how extended travel has the capacity to help you forget previous commitments and let go of the past. I guess five

days in the Galapagos isn’t quite long enough to be considered “extended” ... But the thrill of the open sea, the remoteness of the location, and the purity of the natural environment – these are all soothing to the soul. Fausto struggled in the afternoon to summarize Darwin’s life and work in a 30-minute presentation. I can’t even imagine how to begin making that kind of talk in a second language – considering that, he did quite well. As soon as the Darwin discussion ended, we donned our life jackets again and hopped back in the zodiacs. We opted not to hike, but sail along the coastline and in the lagoons – we’ve had great luck spotting wildlife from the low-lying craft. As we sailed toward shore, we were accompanied by a curious sea lion and loads of sea turtles. We were treated to a vision of flightless cormorants drying their tiny wings as the sun began to set. Heading into the mangrove lagoons we found a pelican condominium filled with adults and babies in nests. The babies were chirping away, no doubt insisting they receive dinner. As we sailed further into the lagoon we saw schools of mullets leaping and splashing in the steely sunlight. We passed a sea turtle with a curiously orange shell. Aura excitedly explained that it is a rare turtle that no one can quite agree if it is a new species or subspecies. We sailed by more and more turtles and then entered manta ray heaven ... a family of four golden rays glided past, then we saw a gigantic eagle ray, and finally a spotted ray. On our return to the boat we sped across a darkening and choppy ocean. We skirted a sea bird feeding frenzy – the tiny skimmer birds running across the water to take off, the blue-footed boobies scouting for schools of fish and then nose-diving with a resounding !thwack! as they hit the water.

Cormorants bobbed in the waves and then disappeared below the surface for so long they might as well have disappeared for good. Pelicans dove from their rocks and always, we were charmed by turtle heads popping up and sea lions tails flipping down. Finally we clambered on board under a threatening sky – probably no sunset or starlight on this night. August 27 6:30 dawned faster than we thought possible – perhaps due to the imbibing of tropical cocktails, perhaps due to the turbulent journey through open seas from Isabela to Floreana. Nevertheless, we sleepily dressed, gulped some coffee, donned our life vests and climbed into zodiacs for the trip to Post Office Bay. We were told it was a short walk from the beach, so we grabbed our water shoes and prepared for a wet landing. We had clearly seen Post Office Bay marked on the map of the small southern island of Floreana in the Galapagos Archipelago. Until that night, I hadn’t thought to question whether or not there was an actual Post Office there. I assumed that the main Galapagos post office was on the island of Santa Cruz, the most inhabited isle in the archipelago. Carlos explained that Post Office Bay was very special. Floreana’s geographic position made it very popular with buccaneers, whalers, and colonists. In the 1790’s, British whalers established a post office to leave letters for other ships to retrieve and deliver to England. These postage-free missives were left for newly arriving sailors, who gladly selected letters addressed close to their home and hand delivered them – in exchange for someone doing the same for them in the future. This tradition has continued … visitors to Post Office

Bay may leave their postcards and letters, with the understanding that they should search through the Post Office for anything addressed close to home, so they can deliver it when possible. The story sounded so intriguing, we agreed to the early morning wake up call, and found a few postcards to address. In the early morning light, we sailed to Floreana and then clambered off the zodiac into the icy cold Pacific waters – too early for any sunshine to have warmed them. We scrambled up the beach and waited for our guide to point the way to the Post Office. I envisioned a small house, or maybe even a hut – considering that the Galapagos airport isn’t much more than a tin roof held up by some wooden beams. We trudged up the sandy hill and turned the bend to behold the Post Office … and burst out laughing. It’s really not much more than a barrel surrounded by a few weather-beaten crates. There are a few graffiti messages from some intrepid explorers, but other than that, it’s simply a barrel full of cards and letters. Handfuls of postcards were passed through our group and folks began calling out locales: Hong Kong, Germany, California, Australia ... We finally honed in on the locations that were most likely to match our homes and started grabbing cards. We found one addressed to Philadelphia and we snatched it up, curious to know someone else from our region who had visited the islands. Finally it was time to leave our own cards. We placed them in the Post Office barrel and then turned back to the beach. We laughed at the activity and climbed aboard our zodiacs. Soon we were racing across the waves, back to the boat, some breakfast, and another day’s adventure.

It wasn’t long before we heard the announcement for a brief scouting zodiac ride, to be followed by some more snorkeling. The zodiac ride was pretty chilly, under gray skies and with a significant wind blowing. We were introduced to the red beaked tropic bird who nests in holes along the lava coast, the only thing visible, its long flowing tail that blends perfectly with the sparse foliage. We spotted an elusive species of Galapagos mockingbird that only lives on this tiny outcrop of lava because it cannot fly to the other islands. And of course, sea lions and turtles all around. We returned to the boat and Carlos announced – don your wet suits! After the chilly boat ride, I definitely thought twice about getting back in the water, but we were told these were some of the best around ... so in we went. I flopped ungracefully over the side and gasped, trying to become accustomed to the freezing temperatures. Soon enough the wet suit did its job and I paddled after the group. As always, it was well worth the effort – sheer walls of surgeon fish, king angels, and many more I couldn’t identify. We nervously spotted barracuda and a reef shark. When the cold finally set in completely, we climbed, shivering, back in our zodiacs and headed back to the boat. Showered and refreshed we were hanging out in the lounge when some kids excitedly announced they saw whales swimming alongside. We ran on deck and sure enough, spotted a mother and calf

humpback. The baby was having a grand old time, jumping in and out of the water and putting on a show. Soon after, we spotted a pod of dolphins leaping alongside. We raced down to the lowest deck and planted ourselves face down, leaning right over the edge while we skimmed over the waves. There must have been close to 100 dolphins swimming with us, right below are enchanted faces, leaping as if we were all dancing through the ocean together. It was one of the most breathtaking experiences I’ve ever seen – the dolphins seemed to enjoy the ride and we laughed with delight, wind blowing our hair wildly. I will hold the vision of those graceful but powerful creatures swimming through the dark waters, the sun just peeking through the clouds to create skipping highlights on the waves. We made a valiant attempt to get some reading done after lunch, but Cory was strumming a borrowed guitar and cool winds were blowing, so I fell sound asleep, rocking in the hammock. Before we knew it, the loudspeaker crackled with an announcement to head out to Punta Cormorant on Floreana island. We zodiacked (is that a verb?) to the shore. If possible, the landscape seemed even more remote, more alien than we had previously seen. We were on the leeward side of the island, completely remote from any inhabitants. (Floreana has fresh water, so it has been inhabited for a few hundred years – primarily as a penal colony for Ecuador.) We climbed a small rise on a tiny strip of land connecting two volcanic hills. From afar, we spotted one of the famous flamingoes that inhabit the island and were treated to a large blue heron showily diving for some fish. We descended to a cove on the opposite side of the island and stepped onto one of the most

pristine beaches I’ve ever seen. The sand was silk under our toes and the water was a magnificent shade of turquoise deepening to an indigo blue. I wondered why we hadn’t gone snorkeling in such a beautiful cove, kicked off my shoes, and waded into the water. Juan Carlos immediately warned me not to walk too far into the surf. When I turned to question his caution, I spotted vast numbers of stingrays feeding on the tiny crabs that skittered along the sandy bottom. ‘Nuff said – I didn’t move another step deeper. As lovely as the water appeared, clearly it would have been dangerous to swim. As if to emphasize the point, a large reef shark floated by, just a few feet in front of my path. By the time we left the beach, we had spotted scores of rays, several sharks, and of course, the ever present turtles. Despite the ocean being off limits, the beach was quiet and idyllic – so quiet, we could clearly hear the skittering of the Sally Lightfoot crabs as they traveled across the lava flows searching for dinner. We marveled at the closeness of a mother and baby sea lion cuddled together for the night. We mourned the skeleton of another baby sea lion, obviously left for dead when a mother didn’t return from hunting. It was time to go and then another tour group showed up – wait, what? Isn’t this our private archipelago?! Clearly it was time to return the way we had come and climb into our zodiacs to head back to the boat. I snapped a photo of the dead sea lion and Gary announced he would like that to be this year’s holiday card. We sailed back under a remarkable sky – patches of sun groping through tiny openings in the clouds. It looked ominous to the north and we nearly bounced out of our zodiacs, fighting the strong current.

Dinner was a festive barbecue on the sky deck – hard to believe it was the penultimate night of the voyage. Once we had eaten, the staff gleefully cleared the tables and began playing wild meringue music. The Ecuadorians were obviously expert and tried their best to get us all up and dancing. We struggled to keep up, laughing uproariously at our inelegant attempts to follow the Latin rhythm. It was all good, and later in the evening an enterprising passenger decided we all needed one blue fingernail to represent “booby brotherhood” – and we danced in our blue booby goodness until well past midnight.

August 28 Another night of turbulent seas. At least we finally figured out how to put a chair in front of the closet doors to keep them from swinging open all night (a very low-tech solution that worked perfectly). We ate a bleary-eyed breakfast and struggled yet again into our wet suits, wondering if the gray skies and chilly air would render our final snorkeling opportunity a bust. We jumped in, gasping as always at the icy water, and paddled toward a rocky coastline. At first we didn’t see much except for some lonely fish, but as we moved farther out, we came to a large cave where there was more activity – coral, rocks, beautiful anemone – it was an underwater garden. As we paddled happily about, a playful sea lion joined us and cavorted, twisting and turning –

swimming up and away again. It was hard not to laugh with joy, which would have been a mistake while snorkeling! I was so enchanted as Cory and the sea lion paddled up to each other that I almost missed a majestic site. Gary tapped my shoulder and I looked down as two incredible golden rays floated serenely below us. We were still cavorting happily with the sea lion when Juan Carlos shouted anxiously for everyone to return to the zodiac. At first I was annoyed that our snorkeling was cut short, but he told us that another group had spotted orcas feeding nearby. We quickly doffed our flippers and masks, clambered clumsily into our chariots and set off speeding across the water.

The sun peeked out and glittered along the waves and we heard a shout from one of the other zodiacs – a mother and calf were jumping dead ahead, magnificent black and white against the azure blue ocean. Next thing we knew, we were speeding along the waves with the orcas leaping beside us and swimming below and around our zodiac. They put on quite a show and gave us a memorable ending to our last morning on the water. After wolfing down a delicious final lunch we played National GeoBee (and failed miserably) and then set off for our final walk on the island of San Cristobal. This is the oldest island and faces well out into the Pacific, no other land in sight. We hiked along a dramatic coastline complete with exhilarating wave crashes and waterspouts. We were welcomed by friendly sea lions (of course) and marine iguanas, although these were a bit unusual with significant red coloring. We were told they become green and red in December and are called Christmas iguanas. It was a tough walk on lava boulders but we were treated to blue-footed boobies mating, whistling and honking. We also saw a great number of albatross babies, so ugly they were actually cute. We witnessed the albatross’ graceful flying and their ridiculous landings (built for the air, not for walking). Once the babies take flight, they follow the Humboldt Current south and don’t touch down on land for years – incredible.

We spotted a mischievous mockingbird that found an albatross egg and plunged its beak deep inside to steal the goodness within. As we left the island, sun setting dramatically over the ocean, we witnessed a theatrical fight between sea lions and boobies over a particularly valuable patch of warm sand. It seemed a fitting farewell for us; the animals, completely at home on their island, didn’t notice our presence one bit. We returned to a somewhat melancholy final dinner on board and then it was time to pack up for departure. It was a very rough evening’s sail back to Baltra Island. In the morning we exchanged emails and goodbyes with the group and boarded our zodiacs for the final trip to shore. Sea lions played in the waves around us and as we waited for the airport shuttle, boobies and pelicans dove for their breakfast in the crisp morning sun.

Then it was one more chance to buy souvenirs at the tiny airport and we boarded our AeroGal flight back to the mainland. I tried unsuccessfully to get on the earlier JFK flight but we ended up with another night at the Guayaquil Hilton. Cory and Gary amused themselves with a trip to the toy store (Mi Jugueteria) and returned with a treasure trove of Spanish comics. We ate one last Ecuadorian meal where none of us got what we had ordered. We laughter, shuffled some food around between us and made do with the randomly served carne. We were looking forward to a glass of wine, but sadly learned that on Sundays in Ecuador, only the President is allowed any alcohol. One last dulce de leche dessert (with a side of cream fritters of course) and then a quiet (no rocking!) night before returning to Guayaquil airport. In true form, our flight was delayed six hours, so we suffered in the VIP lounge until LAN called us for our flight.

What do I take away from the Galapagos experience? I am pleased to have been able to witness a remarkable corner of the planet, so spoilt and unspoiled at the same time. We learned for a week about the conservation efforts that are necessary to protect plant and animal life on Galapagos from the ravaging introduction of nonnative species: goats, cats, hornets, raspberries. The islands have changed dramatically since whalers stopped by Post Office Bay in the 1700’s. On the other hand, it’s rare to be in a place so devoid of human footprints, where animals are able to live their lives with virtually no interference. And seldom do I experience such a lack of modern-day sounds – I shall miss those moments when all that could be heard was the clacking of albatross beaks during mating, the barking of posturing sea lions, the snorting of marine iguanas sunning themselves, and the honking and whistling of the boobies mating. I felt disconnected from the modern world and connected to the earth all at the same time. Those kinds of journeys are good for the soul.

Dr. Stefani Hite is an educator, traveler, and digital storyteller. You can follow her wanderings on Connections Blog: August 2010

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