In Galapagos, there is this anticipation…this air of expectant wonder, that around every corner awaits something magnificent…and it is waiting. I have been to many parts of the world and seen many amazing natural wonders. But here…it is almost like Mother Nature is enjoying showing off just as much as we are enjoying the view. Like, she has her arm around my shoulder, and thrusts me in front of this volcanic masterpiece, the sea misting me with a delightful soft spray, and I hear her whisper, “See??? Isn’t that cool?!?”
And before I can even recover she spins me around and says, “Wait, that’s nothing! Watch this!” And dolphins appear on the horizon, hurrying over so that I can listen to their whistles and clap with delight as they twist and turn in front of our boat. In other places of the world, I felt like a lucky observer, whose presence is not acknowledged. Here I feel like an honored guest, a participant in this land of wild things. I ran across this quote from Hafiz and it has never resonated with me more than here: “This place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”
The creatures seem to have an interest in me. To talk to a little Galapagos flycatcher (because I am just weird like that) and have it hop to a closer branch and tilt its head towards me, as if to say, “Tell me more!”… to have a sea lion do cartwheels two feet from me when it could do it two miles from me if it so wished…I am overwhelmed. It makes me never want to close my eyes, never want to turn away, never want to leave.
I admit, Galapagos has gotten under my skin. Even before I left its beaches, I was grasping for ways to return. I actually asked Julian what it takes to be a Naturalist Guide here. Not only do you have to be an Ecuadorian, you have to be a native of Galapagos. The training is every ten years, and the year he applied, so did 1000 other people. They accepted 60 into the program. While I am disappointed, there is safety in this knowledge. It prevents me from quitting my life in the States and be lost forever to the rock of a boat and the whistling cry of a Nasca booby. (Barring the reality that my husband’s career is here, all my family and friends…the language barriers…. ) I won’t be the brunt of juicy rumors, on how Staci lost her mind and gave up her life for the allure of sea lion escapades.
So I’m left with memories and stories to tell the best I can. It is a tough task, in a way. It’s hard to describe a place like Galapagos. Sometimes, I myself, after two visits, find it difficult to believe it even exists. The Archipelago has so many unique and amazing attributes, that it feels, on the retelling—a lie. How do you tell someone about a place in which half the birds, a third of the plants, and 90% of the reptiles exist nowhere else on earth? I find English to be lacking in enough descriptive terms, or maybe it is just my limited skill at turning a phrase.
As an artist, I feel at a loss as well. While the place has given me a lifetime of subjects to paint, and I will…my brush can’t quite paint what it is like to be there. You reading this blog, seeing the photos and the art and hearing the stories…you are being robbed of the truth of it. The truth is that the Galapagos Islands are indescribable. They’re not reproducible. There is no articulation that can substitute experiencing them for yourselves. I’ve done my best, in words, and pixels and paint. And all I can hope is that my efforts here will light a fire under you. Make arrangements, make sacrifices, make a savings account. Do your homework, buy a snorkel, and a plane ticket. Experience your own stories to tell. Go.
If you have enjoyed my art here, check back. I will add more as I complete them. I plan to try my hand at video editing, and will add videos of this trip if I can sort that out! Also, from the last voyage, I did art with the Galapagos Finch, the Pelican, Vermillion Flycatcher, and Sea Turtles, if you care to click!
You can also subscribe to my other blog, Collidescopes, to see what else I am doing.
Today's inspiration is a collage and acrylic painting using the map I purchased on San Cristobal.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me, and again, a humble thank you for your votes. I am still overwhelmed.
And oh-my-gosh I can never express in MERE WORDS my gratitude at Adventure Life...my first trip was once-in-a-lifetime, with their help and direction...then they put on this contest, and sent me HERE! With wonderful service and the finest care! Who gets two adventures in one life, let alone one year? I can never express it properly.