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Under Expert (and Eccentric) Care

The flora and fauna are of course the main attractions of the natural world on these islands, but your guide will almost undoubtedly be the star of the “manmade” world on your Galapagos adventure. As I mentioned before, our guide on the Ocean Spray was Harry, who was also affectionately given the nickname “Loco” by the other crew on our boat. At first thought, this seemed to be a rather sarcastic moniker, but with each outing, Harry consistently lived up to the title.

That's our Harry
That's our Harry (Jeff Rottschafer)

This, thankfully, did not manifest itself as true insanity, but rather as unbridled excitement as he revealed the wonders of his home. Being a native of San Cristobal Island, Harry (like nearly all guides there) was born and raised in the Galapagos. He also studied extensively to be a top guide in the region, bringing a love and knowledge to every excursion that couldn’t help but fill you with wonder and awe.

His wild enthusiasm was also instantly apparent and extremely contagious. Despite the rough and semi-frigid waters, Harry made every snorkeling adventure an utter joy as he gleefully called out tons of marine life in a manner that almost had you believing it was his first time seeing these creatures, and not yours: “Look! A pufferfish! And over there is a hieroglyphic hawkfish! Careful, there’s a scorpionfish! Hammerheads! Sea turtles! Reef sharks!”

I realized on this trip that I am terrible at GoPro. But, that's a sea turtle...
I realized on this trip that I am terrible at GoPro. But, that's a sea turtle... (Jeff Rottschafer)

Part of his method of finding these animals was diving down under the waves, searching for whatever sea life we were lucky enough to be around that day. If at first you were not impressed by his dolphin-like navigation of the waters, it would be impossible to not be in awe over his ability to hold his breath for minutes as he scoured the seafloor. He even disappeared into an underwater cave one time for over three minutes on a search for sharks, leaving the group to become more and more concerned that we maybe just lost our guide to a neptunian demise. But after all, he popped out of the cave, completely unphased by his near-superhuman abilities and laughing at our temporary morbidity.

Harry diving down to the depths
Harry diving down to the depths (Jeff Rottschafer)

While he was extremely passionate about his work, he also had an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much every facet of life which was demonstrated not only on the land excursions that we usually had twice every day but also in his excellent briefings, which we had nightly just before dinner. Remember that college professor that redefined what the word “lecture” meant, as they captivated the student populace not just with their expertise, but also their magnetic presence? Listening to Harry go over the day’s wonders was just like that, while also never failing to make you even more excited about what laid ahead. I began to look forward to the briefings almost as much as I did the excursions, and that was not only because they paired very well with a cocktail from the bar.

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