not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Galapagos Islands : Part One

It is 6am, our 3rd day aboard the sailboat Sulidae. It is rainy and overcast, but still we are in a magical paradise. Im lying in my bed, top bunk, looking out over the sea watching sea lions play, swimming around and under our boat.

Let me begin by making some introductions.

1. Koch Ki: also known as COOKIE, he is 21years old from Japan. He is traveling South America for 3 months. His name means HAPPY TREE in Japanese and he has been a delightful part of our group. His english is so so and he doesnt speak spanish, so I give him huge props for taking part in this adventure.
2. Peter: is a 32 year old German, who now lives in Venezuela. He is a well traveled, educated son of a Diplomat and is a gentlemen-to-boot. He is funny and clever and great to have aboard.
3. Shane: is from Ireland. ¨The doctor¨, or ¨the Healer¨ as Peter calls him, is completing his residency in Australia but he is currently taking 4 months to travel around. He is quite funny, even if most of his jokes are at my expense.....´the american´.

These are the 3 that Pat and I met at the airport ...we will spend all 8 days with Peter and Shane, and 5 days with KochKi before he leaves for Peru. Also aboard the Sulidae are 2 couples...a couple from Spain and an older couple from Germany. The Germans are nice, though Andreas´ wife doesnt say too much...she speaks very little english and no spanish. The Spanish couple came off as pretty rude at first, but after an afternoon excursion to the bar Jesus came alive and Lara is slowly coming around as well. Two names that I will mention A LOT are WALTER and FLORO. Walter is the chef and Floro...well he does everything except driving the boat and taking us on our daily excursions. Walter and I became close friends within minutes of me boarding the ship. I hover around the kitchen, and I dont think that he minds. We talk about food and life and free time...and he talks me through whatever it is that hes cooking for us. We have had some amazing meals...lots of fish, cooked to perfection.

DAY 1: we flew into baltra and took a taxi to the isalnd of santa cruz. here is a pretty busy town where most boats begin their journey. we visited the charles darwin center, got a briefing about the galapagos and saw some enormous freaking turtles. It is a hot and sunny and beautiful day. We swim off the boat and all get to know eachother.

DAY 2: arrive to FLOREANA at 630am. it is a bit overcast and the days activity is snorkeling! peter, shane and the spaniards take off to go scuba diving,so its just pat, me and the germans...and the wife is scared of the water. that now makes 3. the water is chilly, but once we get in i am surrounded by schools of fish, i swim alongside a huge seaturtle for a distance and then lay on my back next to a seal who is just taking a little float. later in the day, once everyone returns from diving, we take a hike up to the mountain on floreana. the town is pretty dry and dark and a little depressing, but we are entertained with herds of cows and the seals playing on the dock. dinner was rather exciting....we had JAPANESE lessons. everyone had managed to smuggle some booze onto the boat and we all had a nice buzz going. Jesus, the spaniard, began to warm up after a drink or two and our Japanese lessons turned into a haiku session.
(koch ki wrote all of this in traditional japanese, the pronounciation in english, and what it meant)
a saying that we used often that night, and continued to use for nights to come was KAN PAI which means ¨dry glass¨...the Japanese equivelant of saying cheers. before eating you say ¨ITADAKIMASU¨ and after your meal you say ¨GOCHISOUSAMADESHITA¨. The haiku that Koch Ki created for us was beautiful and when translated meant ¨this meeting is life a dream i dont forget¨. it was a magical night.

night is full of stars
boat full of japanese, laughter, rum, fanta
magic fills our sails tonight

***day 2 i decide, i REFUSE to accept instant coffee...SO, i bust out the coffee that was gifted to me by Andrea at the hotel coco in Salinas, I sacrifice a tank top, and I get crafty. Everyone thought that I was crazy but really: what is more important, a meesly tank top or REAL COFFEE? Floro insisted on helping me, and for the rest of the trip it is our morning messy ritual of making coffee aboard the rocky ship.

day3: this is the day that things began to get more interesting. we arrived at the island of ISABELA to far the most beautiful island. it is rainy and cold again, damnit...but we are just going with the flow. we go horseback riding in the morning up to sierra negra volcano and then hike to see the rest. the hike was hellacious and boring, but one we got to the top the view was amazing. we are all pretty tuckered out and ¨touristed out¨ we tell our guide that we dont want to be guided anymore...we want to find a BAR on the BEACH and we want to DRINK SOME BEER! With majority favoring the bar (the only one opposed is our guide) we find the most amazing, charming, most wonderful bar in all of the world. We laughed and drank and sang along to the wonderful cheesey american music playing, with some bob marley thrown in here and there. We go back to the boat, only for Floro and I to hop BACK onto the panga to go back to town. His daughter lives on this island with her husband, who is a guitarist...and everyone on the boat was desperate for some music! Floro and I cruise through town, he is introducing me to everyone as his ¨esposa¨ (funny because floro is an old man) and then we pick up the very old, very out of tune, pretty awful guitar. I cant complain though, and the kindess that everyone shows me warms me up from the inside we head back to our ship, ¨guitar¨ in hand. Aboard the ship drinking has continued. Pats drinking some godawfulcocktail that we named PEACH ECSTASY and the mixers are getting more odd and more awful as the night goes on. I play every song in my repitoire and its like a bunch of drunken sailors as everyone tries to sing along. Jesus and I get into a deep conversation about Spain and FOOD. Im completely absorbed with all that he has to say. This is how they do it in Spain:

  • wake up at 7am. breakfast is coffee.
  • 11am is CAFE con PINCHO (pincho is a very small snack...croissant, little sandwich, something).
  • between 130 and 3pm is LUNCH. You take 2 hours for lunch.
  • done work, home by 8.
  • 10pm friends coem over. start dinner. go to bed btwn midnight and 2am.
  • Also, there is dessert after EVERY meal. They drink their coffee black and usually a cocktail after every meal, even lunch. Jesus is a biologist by trade and a music enthusiast in his heart.

Day4: Our last day at ISABELA and the SUN IS SHINING!!!!! in AM: sharks. white tipped reef...over 20 of them in canal. snorkel: well, snorkel is busted, so i get some great practice just holding my breath. shark swims close to me, i literally climb over shane who is swimming next to me. penguins, fish, and SEA LIONS. One sea lion in particular. Lara finally warming up, lets me borrow snorkel. Laugh uncontrollably as my new sea lion friend swims circles around me...pressing his nose up to mine, and swimming past me and over me and under me and eventually brushing up against me. laugh more, swallow water. for it only being my 2nd time snorkeling, i am the LAST one back into the panga. shane, koch ki and i lay on deck like seals...soaking up the sun and taking a nap. LUNCH. more turtles...once youve seen one youve seen them all. eh. we are supposed to go snorkeling again, but its gotten chilly and windy and the best bar ever is only a few steps away. pete and koch ki go snorkeling...we have PARTY TIME. 2 for 5 mojitos...load us up. everyone is pretty buzzed...dancing, singing...pat has 3 umbrellas in her hair - Jesus has rasta dread hat on...oh the madness. Back to the boat, diving off the stern. laugh laugh laugh, choke on water laughing so hard. shrimp for dinner - so delicious- more booze - more laughing- debating - POLITICS...lightened by music. Sleep on a VERY rocky ride as we make our way back to santa crus to say goodbye to koch ki.

Day 5: I am currently sitting at the internet in santa cruz. we returned to deliever koch ki and tonight we leave for san will be another 4 days before i get back to internet...and now im going for ceviche and beer. life is good.


  1. Glad I wasn't there for the shark, you would have drowned me, and then gotten angry with me for allowing the thing to get so close to you. Ha!


  3. hey Cailin,
    Sound like sooo much fun! I am really enjoying your blog, when I get the chance to sit down and catch up. i wish i had your gift of gab :)
    Enjoy, Enjoy!!