Day 4…Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…The stunning photos continue…

Tom was sitting on a bench with all these massive iguanas in front of him. They didn’t seem to mind a bit.

The 14 passengers on this boat, plus Tom, are having a fantastic time going to the islands two or three times a day to explore this incredible location’s wildlife and unique areas. Each time they return to the ship, they have big smiles on their faces, their eyes twinkling with sheer wonder over the treasures they’ve beheld on this last expedition.

Such unusual creatures.
While walking along this patch, Tom had to walk around the iguanas to avoid disturbing them.
A dirt road in a small village on Isla Isabela Island.

I am not sad that I am unable to join them. It’s utterly delightful to see Tom grinning from ear to ear along with his boat-mates over the exquisite sightings they’ve had along the way on each outing. Oddly, I am not jealous but feel a powerful sense of joy in seeing them have such a good time in God’s Wonderland in the beautiful country of Ecuador.

A little restaurant along the dirt boulevard. It would be fun to eat there. Some of the passengers ate there, but after being served three big meals a day on the boat, Tom had no interest in eating again.
José de Villamil, or José Villamil, was born in New Orleans when Louisiana was a colony of Spain. He was one of the fathers of the independence of Ecuador, the founder of its navy, “conqueror” and first Governor of the Galápagos Islands, and Minister of Foreign Relations.
They often cuddle with one another.

I can sense they feel a little awkward sharing their joy over this blessed experience with me, the one who stays behind, typing fast and furiously on her laptop, an observer of their once-in-a-lifetime adventure. But they need not feel bad for me. I am having a glorious time through their eyes, photos, and stories to tell.

They hang out anywhere that suits them.
Be careful not to step on them!
The marine iguana is the only lizard in the world able to live and forage at sea and is endemic to the Galapagos Archipelago. Eleven very similar subspecies are found on different islands, with those from Isabela and Fernandina being the largest.

Besides, Tom has become a fine photographer, capturing moments with the same finesse I always strive to achieve but seldom accomplish. No longer will I ever tease him about his photo-taking acumen. He’s surpassed all my expectations and is a worthy match for the best of my accumulated, albeit inconsistent, skills over the years.

Fishing boat in The Galapagos. Yesterday, we dined on fresh caught grouper for lunch, and for dinner, it was scorpion fish…both were delicious. Scorpionfish have extremely potent venom in their sharp spines, making them one of the most poisonous animals in the ocean. Scorpionfish tend to live near the surface but can be found at 2,625 feet (800 m) deep.
Again, like in Africa, domestic and wild animals are not a good mix. Tom visited the Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan Breeding Center, where baby tortoises are bred until maturity to be released into the wild.
Tom took a photo of this sign at Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan Breeding Center.

Yes, I can live this life of unsteady immobility, and from my armchair and expeditions on shaky legs, I can continue to share the adventures we encounter along the way in our upcoming travels. The anticipation for the future is as thrilling and passionate as when my pace was assured and steady. My disability does not imprison me. I am enhanced in spirit over the challenge of making the most of every day, grateful for what I can do instead of what I cannot.

Another interesting sign is the Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan Breeding Center.
This is a young tortoise with many years yet to mature.
More baby tortoises.

I am emboldened by this new time in life, knowing it’s not unlike the pleasure we derive from adapting to new environments as we’ve traveled the world over the past 11 years in a mere two weeks from today. So much has changed, yet we are still the same people we were in 2012, ambitious, in love, determined, and somewhat fearless.

This one looks a little older than the above youngsters.
More young tortoises were enjoying the little pond.
Apparently, this tortoise was annoyed.

Perhaps I am not totally fearless when I suffered considerable angst over the impending altitude of Quito at 9350 feet. Then, as the altitude sickness presented symptoms to me, only exasperated by the fact I have heart disease, Afib, and asthma, all conditions known to deter travelers from high altitude, I found a sense of confidence in the fact that I never panicked, drank tons of water and rested as the best panaceas for the condition. By the third day, I was almost back to myself.

Photo of a sign about whitetip sharks.
Tom was thrilled to get this photo of whitetip sharks in a channel. Whitetip reef sharks are one of the most abundant Galapagos reef sharks. They can be seen from the surface to over 300 meters under the ocean. Although they prefer shallower water and are rarely seen deeper than 40 meters, they occasionally venture into open water from the reef.
More whitetip sharks. The naturalists Juan Carlo and Orlando explained that they hadn’t seen the whitetip sharks in six months, and they magically appeared for our passengers yesterday.

Now, when we return to Quito in four days to begin the altitude adjustment one more time, I have no angst or apprehension, knowing precisely what to expect in the last two days we’ll spend in Quito until we fly back down once again to Manta on October 23, to begin the drive to our new home the next day until January 8.

Cuddle buddies on the rocks.
Beautiful scenery.

After January 8? We have no plans, but we know our journey will continue to new horizons wherever possible. We’ll most likely make some decisions in the next 30 to 60 days on where we’d like to go. So many factors come into play when making those types of decisions.

Of course, none of these positive feelings I am experiencing would be possible without all of you, our valued readers. Without the daily preparations of these posts with Tom’s stunning photos, I’d be sitting here, playing with my phone or reading a book, neither of which would be fulfilling.

Sound asleep.

As a matter of fact, I often wonder if we would have continued traveling for 11 years had we not been documenting our daily lives as we have. It’s truly been the most meaningful and enriching aspect of our worldwide travels, knowing that someone out there is gaining joy in the world through our eyes. Now, in some ways, it will be through Tom’s eyes for those experiences that may be difficult for me to experience.

Saying so reminds me of Tom’s dear deceased older brother Jerome, who was blind and passed away last March at 94. Today would have been Jerome’s 95th birthday. A few years ago, when he was still able to read (listen to) our posts through an app on his computer, he said. “Tommy and Jessica, you will be my eyes as you travel the world. Jessica’s words paint a picture I can “see.” Tears flow from my eyes as I write this. We both miss him so much.

Blue-footed booby with those blue feet tucked away.

Many of our loyal readers have written to us in the past few days, extolling the virtues of our positive attitude in continuing on when others may have surrendered. But we don’t deserve praise for our commitment and dedication to continuing on. Curiosity? Perhaps. Astonishment? Perhaps. Or for some, who may say…” When are they going to get the message that they need to stop?”

No, we don’t continue on to “prove a point.” But, we do continue on for the enrichment of our lives, the sense of awe and wonder of the world, and the blissful adventure and the divine opportunity to share it all with all of you, each and every day. We thank every one of you for the great gift!

My dinner last night consisted of scorpionfish, roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes (which I later discovered have too many carbs for me), salad, garlic, spinach, and cheese. The chef, Jonathan, is going to great lengths to ensure I have plenty of delicious meals.

Ah, still happy, not melancholy! And grateful for so much.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 17, 2013:

At Camp Olonana in the Maasai Mara, Kenya…After the bush dinner, we posed for a photo, although after a day on safari, I hardly felt photo-ready. Tom’s face was sunburned from the almost 8 hours we spent on safari that day, exposed to the elements, loving every minute. We couldn’t wait to put our clothing in the dirty laundry hamper to be washed, dried, and folded to perfection, and that was returned to our tent the same evening. This service was included in the all-inclusive pricing. For more photos, please click here.