A Love Letter to the Galapagos Islands

The thing about travel, for me, is this: once I’ve hit the ‘landmarks’ of a destination, I pretty much run out of ideas.

So I turn to food and/or drinks for inspiration. Restaurants. Bars. Coffee shops. It’s a trap. A fall-back. I’m in a foreign country, yet I’m checking the time, wondering when it’s socially acceptable to go for our next meal or whether it’s time for happy hour yet.

Cycling in Yeongwol, Korea

Well that was fun…now what? Wanna get a beer or something?

It’s not…inspiring.

That’s why the Galapagos Islands were a game-changer.

Way back in September, I wrote about how I hoped we’d get to the Galapagos. For months, Jared and I said “if we’ve got the money, we’ll go.”

By the time we arrived in Ecuador, we’d come to an unspoken agreement – we were going. No matter what.

And HOLY CRAP PEOPLE. It was magnificent. All of those vague, generic adjectives people used to describe the islands were true.

Amazing. Gorgeous. Unbelievable. Awesome.

San Cristobal, Galapagos

Sea Lion Hotel on San Cristobal Island. Man, they smell bad.

I’ll go over the details of how we did it on a budget – without taking a cruise – in an upcoming post, but for now I just wanted to wax poetic about this place.

There was a sense of freedom that I rarely get. Animals roamed freely both in and out of the blue, blue water. It was incredibly interactive and oddly unrestricted. I never, ever watched the clock or suggested grabbing a beer because there wasn’t anything else to do. I felt happy every. single. day.

Las Grietas, Santa Cruz

On a tip, we hiked over to Las Grietas in the morning and had it all to ourselves.

Whole days would pass in a glorious blur of snorkeling with sea lions on a secluded beach, shrieking in fright as marine iguanas hissed at us, or diving into glass-topped streams at the bottom of a gorge.

As I get older, I realized that I don’t typically get out of the bed in the morning excited about the day. I’m ambivalent or mildly positive at best – true excitement is rare. But these animals? These islands?

I kept saying to myself, We are in the Galapagos Islands. Like India, it was one of those places that made me think, “I’d love to go there someday,” but I didn’t believe that I’d pull together the resources to make it happen.

Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Islands

I loved these guys. Even though they scared the crap out of me on a regular basis.

Well, we did.

In the Galapagos, I was excited. And moved. And awed.

It reminded me of what it was like when I first started traveling. When I wasn’t jaded by buses and immigration officials and things not going your way. The truth? I was almost burned out by the end of our trip in South America. Ten years of moving around the world has changed me, inspired me, educated me – and worn me out.

But the Galapagos? They taught me that when I’m starting to feel like I’ve seen it all, like every experience is melting into the previous one – that I’m wrong.

There’s always something new.

There’s always a place that still has the capacity to take your breath away.

Sea Lions, Galapagos Islands

Posing with our new best friend, the little sea lion that could.

Thanks, Galapagos.

5 Responses to “A Love Letter to the Galapagos Islands”

  1. I loved this, I’m so glad you found a place that made you feel so happy! I know what you mean about just watching the clock until the next appropriate time to eat. That’s about all I did when I went back to Singapore for the holidays; I got like 20 meals a day out of it but I felt like I should’ve been doing more…anyway, hooray for the Galapagos!

    • Yep. Sometimes I feel like I’m not traveling the world so much as eating my way around it. Sometimes that’s good, but it’s like you say, there’s that feeling that you should be doing more. So, yes, Galapagos to the rescue!

  2. Almost cried reading this! I want to go back there so desperately. It was definitely the best 2 weeks of my trip and I miss everything about it 🙁

    • You were one of the people who told me I ‘had’ to go. So glad I listened! I keep trying to convince people to go their for their next vacation. Best place ever.

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  1. Land-Based Budget Travel on the Galapagos Islands | Lateral Movements - February 8, 2013

    […] wouldn’t have been sublimely happy on a cruise; we just couldn’t afford it and we had no regrets […]

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