Our transpacificus interruptus left us in the Galapagos Islands, but before Sail Fail, we had already planned to be there a while, and had booked a weeklong cruise on the Aida Maria to see the wonders of the archipelego.

The Aida Maria is a 16 passenger “cruise ship” that travels around the islands of the Galapagos, stopping at all the cool places to see all the cool things. We were amazingly fortunate that dear friends Beth and Pat were able to fly in and join us for the adventure, and a good time was had by all. In fact, this was one of those rare occasions when an event actually exceeds expectations. Lemme tell ya’ about it!

A marine iguana and a penguin – buddies, or just neighbors?

The above picture kind of summarizes the trip – animals everywhere, all the time, and they were animals we don’t ever see in Florida, or anywhere in the US, or even the Caribbean. The marine iguana lives only in the Galapagos Islands, as does the Galapagos penguin. In fact, it’s the only penguin that lives north of the equator. (Although just barely north of the equator – the farthest north part of Galapagos is not even 1 full degree north of the equator.) And as you may have heard, there are about 14,000,000 other species that live only in the Galapagos, and we got to see every single one of them! (OK, I’m lying… but it seemed that way!)

Jairo, our excellent Galapagos National Park guide

The Aida Maria and its crew were excellent. Jairo was our National Park-certified guide, and he told us all about everything, every day. Angel was the steward, and he simply could not have taken any better care of us. Walter was the chef, and his stated goal was to make every one of us gain 10 pounds in our week onboard (I think he succeeded!). And the rest of the crew, mostly silently and mostly in the background, made sure we got way more than our money’s worth. If the cabins had been a bit larger, it would have been damned near perfect. As it was, it was only fantastic.

On one of our many snorkels, we swam with a manta ray, penguins, sea lions, marine iguanas, and more sea turtles than we could count. (I actually tried and failed to keep count of them.) We also saw, above the waterline, blue footed boobies, which are some of the most impressive boobies I’ve ever seen, anywhere. (Sorry about that – it’s a federal law that anything written about the Galapagos must include at least one “boobies” joke.)

Three penguins in this shot!

We saw giant Galapagos tortoises, and Galapagos terrestrial iguanas, and lava lizards, and Darwin’s finches, and Darwin’s Galapagos Lava Finches. (Not really – but about 90% of the critters we saw had one of those three modifiers in their name, so we just started calling everything “Darwin’s Galapagos Lava <fill in the blank>”.) We saw Galapagos tortoises mating. We saw flamingoes mating. We saw lava lizards mating. We saw Nazca boobies, and blue footed boobies, and great frigate birds all mating, or in the process of getting ready to mate (think of all the primping you used to do before going out on a Saturday night, and all the preening you used to do in the disco – that was everywhere around Galapagos!).

Yes, that’s exactly what you think it is

We had marine iguanas swim at us so close we thought they’d crash into us. We had sea lions biting our snorkel fins and gloves. We had penguins darting around us like kids at a carnival after two full helpings of cotton candy and a Coke. We saw albatross and boobies and frigate birds on their nests.

Fran, me, Beth, and Pat celebrating our equator crossing on Aida Maria

With one or two exceptions, every fish we saw was new to us, so we’ll have at least 30 new species to try to identify from the pictures we took. I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll just post a few photos, and then give you a link to all the pictures and videos we took on the trip. To paraphrase The Dead – what a very cool trip it was!

One of my favorite pix of the trip – Godzilla! (Photo credit: Pat Winkler)
Hey, baby – you ever see such blue feet? Let’s get it on!
Thassalotta iguanas! And a flightless cormorant just for fun.

Here’s a link to all the pictures and videos – enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Galapagos!”

  1. Jealous! I’ve found myself in Guyaquil 5 times in the last 2 months and a lot of the people are heading out to the Galapagos. We shall be adding this to our wish list!

    1. We flew through the airport in Guyaquil, but you weren’t in the cockpit – we checked!

  2. I fear Big Pine Keys is gonna be rather mundane and boring for you when you return! Trip of a lifetime! Thank you for sharing. Too bad I’m not on the Pulitzer Committee.

    1. Big Pine Key is gonna feel great when we finally get back there! I’m glad you like the writing.

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