Back from the Galapagos
There is a feeling of unreality being dropped back into civilization after a week in Eden. How fortunate we were to spend 5 days on a boat that silently broached the shores of five islands off the coast of Ecuador, but how dazzling jarring to return to the noise of a night of the Raptors and the Miami Heat at the ACC complete with the buouhaha, turmoil and fireworks of yakking burbelling swirling crowds.
Imagine a place where animals and wildlife do not flee, where they are merely curious and yellow birds hop at your feet, where maybe a tortoise will pull his head back into his shell, maybe not, where your toes sink deeply into the marshmallow sand, and the turquoise waters merely lap at the shore. Some in our group swam with sharks at no peril. Years ago I recall the sheltering seas around the Greek islands shared that pristine colour, but no more.
Maybe it is the fervent colours of blazing yellows, fierce reds, pungent greens that draw you in. Certainly it is the solitude of these islands, many that cannot sustain human life. The iguanas that pose in the sun with their mad contrasting colours or the sea lions snoring indifferently to the groups that gawk, or the blue or red footed boobies ( birds, my friends) that huddle with their young that appear as batches of wildly stacked cotton balls, uncaring of danger. Even the stingrays will not attack, only if you chance to step on them in the sand. It is all too amazing and wonder filled.
When a group of baby turtles hatches too early on the island of Floreana we are told not to divert the looming frigate birds that will catch them in their mouths, preventing their instinctual amble to the sea. We are only observers to the ebb and flow of life without the intrusion of the human factor. Once we had heard of lions tearing apart a giraffe in Africa and how fascinated the tourists were, frozen, interested, transfixed .It is much like that here as the simple wave of an arm might have allowed the escape of one or two babies.but we are commanded not to interfere, yet I have to look away when I see a tiny reptile caught in the beak of a frigate bird.
It is here that Charles Darwin came for a mere five weeks in his early 20’s , establishing his theories that it was not the swiftest or smartest, but those most able to adapt who would survive. And obviously some continue to persist in the Galapagos. One wonders how many more marvels have been lost.
When I read that these islands have been offered as collateral to the Chinese for financial support to Ecuador, I experience chills down my spine. What could happen to the dwindling species that inhabit these lands. On Puerto Ayora, the Charles Darwin Centre brings turtle eggs from each island in hopes of restoring the one time balance before the intrusion of pirates, Buccaneers,humans who diverted and exploited the strange and wonderful inhabitants of these islands. Even bringing Lonesome George, the last of his turtle species here did not prevent the demise of turtle populations from 11 to 10 . Diego from the San Diego zoo has met with better success and progeny. They lumber along those hard- shelled guys, the saddleback ones with their long extended necks, drawing our fascination.
It is nothing short of miraculous to be here, enduring the bouncing rides in the dinghies, the heat, the rocky shores that sometimes accompany the short treks to these spectacular islands.We Robinson Crusoes privileged to be here, all clothed in our silly safari gear, hats and sunblock, fitted out with cameras and binoculars.
But back at a Raptors game, the tumult shocks your sanity, messes with your head as you speculate on the contrast of worlds: one to visit and gawk at; the other that sucks you into the teaming noise with its tinsel, crass and choreographed moves, leaving you with few memories just the noise of humans chasing a ball.