I’m a push-over for animals in their natural habitats. There is something about peering into nature without disturbing it that gets me every time. I loved visiting Alaska, especially Denali National Park. Watching Mt. McKinley emerge from the clouds at sunset with a moose in the stream just behind me brought tears to my eyes. Three years later, I wept in the Johannesburg Airport at leaving behind the elephants, giraffes, and lions of Zimbabwe and Botswana.
And now I have returned from my dream vacation to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. Visiting there is a privilege. The giant tortoises, some over 100 years old, the baby sea lions and their mothers, and the blue-footed boobies doing their mating dance, are not afraid of us because they have no predators and visits by humans are limited.
Dolphins playfully dive near our ship. Iguanas are on almost every rock, flamingoes with their pink reflections in the gray lagoon feed at sunset. We snorkle with sea lions, turtles and assorted sizes, shapes and colors of fish.
A dozen of us and a naturalist in a zodiac, leave the ship for different adventures, a different surprise for each of seven days. White beaches, black beaches, even a green beach. Golden iguanas on land only. Marine iguanas black on one island, red and green on another. Islands “uplifting” from below or sinking to gradually disappear in a million years. Walking on what was once the sea floor.
When we took the final zodiac ride to shore for the flight back to the mainland, I watched our beautiful ship sparkling in the sunlight get smaller and smaller.
As usual, the tears came.