To begin with: everything you have heard about Las Islas Galápagos is true. There will be tortoises. You will see piles of iguanas. You will be surrounded by sea lions. You might even get to see the mating dance of the Blue Footed Booby (I did not). The landscape will be weird and varied, and the scenery spectacular. However, no amount of guidebook reading, Operations Coordinator convincing, or World Wide Web scouring will prepare you for what’s coming: you’ll forget it all the moment a baby sea lion stares you in the face and scoots ever closer. The island you’re currently exploring will not matter nearly as much as the encounters you find there, and the different species of finch will blur together as you desperately try to out-photograph your neighbor in the quest to win the ship’s photo contest. I found myself throwing everything I knew about the islands to the wind (figuratively, of course, littering is strictly prohibited) and giving in to the rare and strange characteristics of the archipelago. In the end, none of it mattered. I was in the Galapagos. That in itself was all the spectacular I needed.