Monday, December 20, 2021

Galapagos 1991

Annamaria on the go

When this Post launches, I will be arriving at Munich Airport on my way to Florence to spend the holidays and the winter months with my loved ones in Italy. I know!  I am an incredibly lucky person.

This past week, however, has been a challenge, and as I start to write today – Sunday the 19th, I have just returned home from a root canal operation. Yes, on Sunday morning. And just 12 hours before my plane takes off.  Since Wednesday, I have had three dental appointments, along other unexpected complications. The world seemed to sending me every negative message it could think of.  I pinned my hopes on my Covid rapid test. If it also turned out negative, I knew I was meant to take this trip.

I admit that I was a nervous wreck when I showed up at the dentist office at 8 o'clock this morning. But just as the dental surgeon was beginning to drill, the music system in her office played Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, singing "Cheek to Cheek." Readers in my age category will understand why that song made me laugh. It begins "Heaven, I'm in heaven…" in Louis's unmistakably marvelous voice.  Hearing those words, so appealed to my ironic sense of humor, it made me forget my worries!

Perhaps, given my trials and tribulations this week,  you will forgive me if all I have to offer today is remembrances of a trip from my past – one of the most memorable of my life. It comes with some advice at the end.  But first take a look at what my dear departed David and I experienced 30 years ago in a place that felt like the Garden of Eden:

When I was a child in Catholic school, the nun who taught us in kindergarten described Adam and Eve's home before the fall as a place where the animals were not afraid of the people. That's how Galapagos was. The animals, particularly the birds, did not avoid us. We could walk right up to them. Hence, in these pictures, almost all taken by David, the birds seem to be posing for him.

I call these next three Darwin's finches:

Penguins at the Equator!

Our ship held only 24 passengers:

I was reading Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle" on this trip. It is a diary of his fateful visit.  By chance, on the night before David took these next photos, I read his entry about the place I was going to visit the next morning. It was, as I recall, September 24--the exact anniversary of the day Darwin climbed this hill...

...and saw this lake!  I recognized the place immediately from his description!

The Boobies:

I loved watching the boobies fish.They circle over the sea in flocks of 50 or more, looking for a school of fish.  When one spots lunch, it dives. Then two for three follow, and then bam, bam, bam, they are all hitting the water.  A booby's goofy look comes from the fact that, unlike other birds, they are built to see straight ahead.  When they dive, they go under the fish and take one in their beaks on the way up. Then they fly away with their catch. 

This is a frigatebird. Since it was the mating season, he is ready to display.  When the lady of his choice comes by, he can inflate that red thing like a big red balloon to show her how wonderful he is.

I think these are called frigatebirds because of the way they "earn" a living. They wait for the boobies to catch fish, and then they pester them and attack them, get them to drop their fish, which the frigatebird then catches in midair. (The frigate birds cannot fish for themselves. They are so light and maneuverable because their feathers are not oily, and therefore cannot resist the seawater.). I think they were named after the British frigates that, from the 16th century on, hid in the Galapagos waiting for Spanish galleons laden with silver to come up the west coast of South America, where the Brits could attack and capture them and relieve Spain of some of its wealth.  I wonder if the birds learned this from Brits!

The giant tortoise, the most renowned of the Galapagos' wondrous wildlife.

Here below is one of my favorite pictures of David.  Yes, he is standing under an opuntia cactus, called prickly pear in English.  It's the size of an oak tree! And one of the great marvels of Galapagos, as far as I'm concerned.

I promised you a sermon. It will be short. I had no idea when I planned this trip for us that David and I would never have gotten to visit such a place if we had waited till retirement to go off and see the world. Do not postpone your life!!  If you want to go somewhere or do something, and you are lucky enough to have the means, do it right away!



  1. I just came back from the Galapagos! It was lovely and the wild life is just spectacular. I am so happy to have gone. Blue footed boobies were my favorite and we did get to see them group dive. Poor fish is all I can say. Thank you for sharing your trip and the pics!

  2. Thank you, Nonie! I am so glad to hear that those precious islands are still the same. So many marvelous places have been compromised in the years since I was there. And I’m so happy for you that you got to see the boobies fishing. It’s one of the most unforgettable things I’ve ever seen.

  3. Hope you're feeling better, Sis. Perhaps the most compelling reason behind my going for a knee replacement in a few weeks is so that I can resume my travels to such wonderful hiking locations. Viva Carpe Diem!!!

  4. Hiya, Bro!, You are my third brother to have a knee replacement, one of which had two at a time! I guess the knee issue runs in the family. I also guess that you will be at HSS and in NYC. Once you are out and about, I will fix you a nice dinner to bolster your strength for physical therapy. Every indication is that once you are finished with all of that, you will be grateful for your restored mobility. Hoping everything goes as easily as possible.

    1. It's a deal, Sis! Barbara and I miss you and look forward to seeing you after my HSS surgery and the passing of this Covid-Omicron explosion in NYC. Stay safe and much love.