A few moments ago, I returned from taking my dog on his daily walk, and then proceeded to strip off a fleece hat/face mask, earmuffs, a knee-length down coat, a windproof hooded jacket underneath the down coat, gloves, and the hard-core snow boots I wore in Antarctica. It is a mere ten degrees outside. Needless to say, my trip to the Galápagos already feels like a distant memory.
But it was actually only about 2.5 weeks ago that we touched down in Baltra, took zodiacs out to our ship, the National Geographic Polaris, and made an afternoon landing at North Seymour island. Like typical tourists, we took ten million pictures of sea lions, lizards, iguanas and unique birds... only to see countless more of them over the next seven days. So rest assured that I will post more shots in the future -- especially of the infamous Blue-footed Boobies and other strange creatures that can only be found on the storied archipelago. For now, however, here's a twelve-second video of our first moments in the Land of Darwin.
How's that for a welcome?
The thing about the Galápagos is that it's one of the only places left on the planet where wildlife has no fear of humans. So don't worry, we weren't doing anything to that sea lion to provoke its ire, she and her kind just tend to waddle around honking every once in a while. No one is allowed to touch any of the animals, and generally you're advised to stay several feet away from them -- but if they come up to you then you're just supposed to remain still and most likely they will carry on about their business eventually. No When Sea Lions Attack! here. Also, on each island there are clearly marked paths and naturalists to guide everyone so that the effects of tourism are kept to a minimum (more on that in another post).
For now, I'll leave you with a few shots of the peculiar Magnificent Frigatebird. Here's one who isn't trying to catch a girlfriend...
And here's one who is.
The ol' red balloon trick... works every time for these guys. (A better shot is here on Wikipedia.)
More on the Frigates soon, too. For now I need to work on getting the circulation back to my extremities. And I need to keep reminding myself that while it is kind of depressing to be surrounded by ice and snow once again... it might be better than constantly walking through, um, well... you get the idea.