Day 5, Celebrity Xploration…The Galapagos Islands…A funny post office…

In Hawaii, we saw blue-footed boobies, as well, but with darker blue feet.
  • Galapagos Facts: 
  • “Hunted as food by pirates, whalers, and traders from the 17th through the 19th centuries, between 100,000 and 200,000 Galápagos tortoises are estimated to have been killed off. Tortoises were also hunted for their oil, which was used to power lamps.”
  • Fray Tomás de Berlanga – The world first heard about Galapagos more than 470 years ago. The Dominican friar, Fray Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, was the official discoverer, arriving on March 10, 1535. Currents inadvertently drove Fray Tomás towards Galapagos after he had set out from Panama on his way to Peru.”
An endearing phenomenon in The Galapagos at Post Office Bay is described in the text below.

“This Is the World’s Most Unusual Post Office

On a remote island in the Galápagos, tourists become mail carriers.

The Galápagos are better known for their sea lions and penguins than postal service. But the island of Floreana operates a unique stampless system of sending mail from one of the world’s most diverse, uninhabited areas.

Blue-footed boobies atop the lava rock formations.

Long before ecotourists annexed the remote islands off Ecuador’s coast, it was a pit stop for 18th-century whalers traversing the oceans. After months or even years on the job, the homesick seamen came up with an ingenious system of getting letters to their families. They erected a barrel on Floreana Island and left their mail for sailors on passing ships to deliver.

More endemic cacti on Floreana Island. Notice the little tubes.
Tom didn’t go kayaking without me but enjoyed himself nonetheless.

The first mention of the post office appears in the Journal of a Cruise, Captain David Porter’s account of his 1813 trip to the Galápagos, according to a timeline crafted by John Woram, author of Charles Darwin Slept Here. In his book, Porter recalls a crew member returning with papers “taken from a box which he found nailed to a pot, over which was a black sign, on which was painted Hathaway’s Postoffice.”

A tortoise making her way to the sea.
Was she considering digging a hole to bury her eggs?

Twenty-five years later, another explorer documented the practice of bottling notes and leaving them to be taken back to America by fishing vessels. Those same fishermen “would never fail, before their departure, to touch at this island to take on a supply of tortoises.” The consumption of giant sea tortoises during this period is one of the reasons why Charles Darwin found none left on Floreana Island when he arrived in 1835.

Another view of the post office.

This unconventional system has persisted into the 21st century. Today, thousands of letters pass through Post Office Bay. Tour groups often stop at the island to explore the ancient lava caves and to pick up and drop off postcards.

A cameraman is in the process of making a documentary about The Galapagos Islands.

The simple wooden barrel is covered in notes and keepsakes from travelers passing through in what resembles a glorified birdhouse. The origins of the first barrel are opaque, but it may have come from a crew in the 1890s. Since then, the barrel has been replaced by visiting vessels from around the world. Over the years, driftwood bearing painted names and dates has been piled around the site to commemorate long-ago letter deliveries.

These two are red-billed tropic birds, commonly seen in The Galapagos. The red-billed tropic bird is one of three closely related species of seabirds of tropical oceans. Superficially resembling a tern in appearance, it has mostly white plumage with some black markings on the wings and back, a black mask, and, as its common name suggests, a red bill.

After visitors sift through the mail and collect letters going to a home near their final destination, they can mail or, preferably, hand-deliver letters to the recipients. Tour guides are known to say that slapping a stamp on the letter and dropping it in a mailbox is cheating—though the 18th-century whalers likely wouldn’t object to any method that saw their letters delivered.”

Swallowtail seagulls are beautiful nocturnal birds.

Thus, when Tom rifled through the postcards waiting to be picked up and delivered, he found one from Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He took the card, and we plan to mail it to the recipient when we get to Marloth Park, including a card with our information in case people who receive it would like to chat. That will be fun! We’ll report the results here at the time.

A seal lion snoozing on the rocks.
Playful sea lions.

Although I haven’t been on one excursion since we started this cruise, I am having a good time. Each time the 15 passengers, including Tom, return to the boar from the two to three excursions daily, I am thrilled to see them and love hearing their adventures and stories.

An unusual cactus formation.

And, of course, Tom is bursting with enthusiasm each time over what he’s seen and taken photos of for me to see and share. There are only so many animals on these unique islands, and repetition is unavoidable, but each shot holds its intrigue and interest, particularly to the animal love that I am.

Swooning sea lion.

Once they go out again for a few hours, I find myself totally at ease, enjoying the gentle rocking of the boat and the visits from any of the 12 staff members who stop to chat and say hello. One of the two naturalists, Orlando, has been sending his unique photos of the day to my WhatsApp account, which I will share in one fell swoop toward the end of the cruise. There’s certainly no shortage of photos around here.

Yesterday’s lunch of seabass and baked chicken, avocado, asparagus, and tomatoes. Note the photo of the fantastic seviche below.
Not necessarily a fan of seviche; this cold dish made by Chef Jonathan was the best. Tom didn’t like it, so I ate both of ours. What a treat!

Today, Wednesday is the halfway point of this cruise, and it will end on Saturday when we fly back to Quito for two more days and one more night. But we have so much to look forward to our upcoming stay in Mirador San Jose Province, Manabi, Ecuador, until January 8, 2024.

Tomorrow, we’ll share details of Charles Darwin and his worldwide influence on The Galapagos Islands, one of the planet’s most exciting and wildlife-rich spots.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 18, 2013:

The cockpit of the small plane, flown by Edwin, will return us to the Maasai Mara. For more photos, please click here.

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.

Day 3…Celebrity Xploration…Our first night of seasickness ever, after 34 cruises…

A partial photo of a Galapagos Giant Tortoise.At about 7:50 last night, our boat took off for today’s tour of Isabela Island, the largest island in The Galapagos archipelago. The crew mentioned there would be rough seas, and our fantastic hotel manager, Agustin, passed around seasick pills at dinner, which we declined, never thinking we’d need them.

A sea lion on the beach.

Before our departure, Agustin and several other staff members mentioned the importance of us staying on the main deck, which we’re on, until heading to bed. This didn’t worry us since we’ve never been sick on our 34 past cruises since we began our journey 11 years ago.

The rough terrain the group tackled.

Well, last night, we were in for a big surprise. We didn’t start feeling it until we went to bed, and boom! It hit us both like a ton of bricks! Oh, my gosh, we were seasick for the first time in our lives! Even Tom, who’s tough and resilient, ended up puking his guts out. I held my mouth shut tight and managed to make it through without doing the same. At 1:30 am, when we’d reached our destination and the anchor was lowered, we could both get some sleep.

An iguana in the shadows.

Tom felt much better after his “event,” but I struggled until we finally anchored, and when I awoke this morning, I was still queasy; I had a hard time getting showered and dressed in the still-rocking catamaran. I couldn’t join Tom and our shipmates for breakfast, but now, close to lunchtime, I am ready to eat something and hope eating helps settle my stomach.

Tom maneuvered around for a better shot.

I felt much better after a wonderful lunch of fresh-caught grouper right from the Galapagos waters, roasted chicken, spinach, and salads. After lunch, we took a short nap before Tom headed out again for another tour with the group at 3:00 pm, returning to the ship by 6:00 pm. One of the outstanding naturalists, Orlando, added me to his WhatsApp account and is sending me photos and videos from snorkeling and land sightings. Soon, I will share some of those photos. Otherwise, today’s photos were all taken by Tom. He is doing such a great job!

Gosh, I’m thrilled with Tom’s photo-taking skills using his phone. This is a Great Blue Heron spotted at Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz Island.

We could post photos for weeks, but I’m sure most of our readers don’t mind when it’s been a photo drought from us for many months, except for those in August on the Norway and Greenland cruises. We are so excited going forward to be able to share photos of our upcoming extra months spent in Ecuador, a land of many wonders.

The unique scenery.

In doing online research, I encountered the following from this website about interesting facts about The Galapagos Islands. In future posts, we will share more. See below:

“Fascinating Facts about the Galápagos Islands

The remote archipelago has captivated visitors since Charles Darwin stepped ashore in 1835, but how much do you know about the Galápagos?

Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador lies the Galápagos Archipelago: a world unto itself, forged of lava and isolated for thousands of years. The islands are known for their famously fearless wildlife and as a source of inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution. And that’s just part of the story.

More interesting scenery.

Born of fire: The Galápagos Archipelago is one of the most volcanically active areas in the world. Situated atop a hotspot in the western Pacific, the islands were created over millennia of volcanic activity, as magma repeatedly broke through the sea floor and formed layer upon layer of rock, eventually becoming islands. Today, there are 13 active volcanoes in the archipelago, with intermittent eruptions occurring as recently as 2018.

More stunning scenery.

Discovery by accident: The first-recorded visitor to the Galápagos was Tomás de Berlanga, a Spanish noble and the bishop of Panama, whose ship was blown off course in 1535 while sailing from Panama to Peru. Berlanga was less than impressed with the stark, desert-like archipelago, describing it in a letter to the king of Spain as “dross, worthless, because it has not the power of raising a little grass, but only some thistles.”

This iguana greeted us at the pier when we first arrived in The Galapagos Islands a few days ago.

Human habitation: Though Spanish sailors, buccaneers, and whalers soon followed in Berlanga’s wake, the islands’ inhospitable terrain discouraged permanent habitation. The Galápagos was annexed by Ecuador from Spain in 1832, which led to a trickle of settlements and penal colonies. It wasn’t until the 1960s that an increasing number of Ecuadorians began migrating to the islands, drawn by opportunities in fishing and tourism. Today, more than 25,000 people live among the four inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana.

A yellow iguana is hidden in the bushes.

Evolution revolution: Although Charles Darwin only spent five weeks in the Galápagos in 1835, his time in the archipelago left a lasting impression. Here, the English naturalist famously observed that the islands’ finches (later named in his honor) had beaks that varied from island to island, depending on local conditions and food sources. Darwin would later draw on this research as evidence for his theory of evolution by natural selection, which he presented in On the Origin of the Species.

Each of the many islands in The Galapagos has a unique cactus endemic to its location.

Ecuador’s first national park: An astonishing 97 percent of the Galápagos landmass is designated a national park. Established in 1959, Galápagos National Park protects more than 3,000 square miles of islands and islets, while the Galápagos Marine Reserve protects an additional 50,000 square miles of ocean around the islands.

Or boat, Celebrity Xploration, a small, 16-passenger, 12-crew catamaran.

Nat Geo connection: In 2015, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas team carried out an expedition to the Galápagos to survey its extraordinary marine environments and make a case for greater protection of its waters. Inspired in part by the team’s findings, the government of Ecuador announced in 2016 the creation of a vast new marine sanctuary around Darwin and Wolf—two of the archipelago’s northernmost islands.

A tucked away yellow iguana.

Gentle giants: The islands’ giant tortoises—after which the archipelago is named—can survive up to one year without food or water. Tragically, this unique adaptation led to their demise over the centuries, as thousands of tortoises were captured and stored onboard ships to provide fresh meat for sailors. More than 100,000 tortoises are estimated to have been lost, leading to the extinction of several species and pushing others to the brink.

Currently, there are four species of iguanas in the archipelago: the Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), found on Isabela, Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, and Fernandina Islands as well as other islets around them; the Pale Land Iguana (Conolophus pallidus), restricted to Santa Fe Island; the Yellow Land Iguana.

Conservation in action: For decades, researchers have been working to stabilize local tortoise populations at the captive breeding program in Santa Cruz, run by the Galápagos National Park Service and supported by the Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic Fund. Visitors can observe these iconic creatures up close and explore a facility where tortoise hatchlings are reared before being repatriated to the islands.

Brilliant boobies: The three species of boobies inhabiting the Galápagos can be distinguished by color. Red-footed boobies are the smallest of the trio; blue-footed boobies flaunt their strikingly-hued feet to attract mates; and the Nazca booby, the largest of the three, can be identified by its brilliant white plumage and black-tipped feathers.

One flamingo species is resident in the Galapagos Islands, the Greater Flamingo. Flamingos are large, unmistakable birds with extremely long legs, necks, and unique kinked bills. In adults, the plumage is pink.

Penguins of the tropics: Waddling about the islands—primarily on Isla Fernandina and Isla Isabela—is the only species of penguin found north of the Equator. Though penguins are more commonly associated with the Southern Hemisphere’s chilly realms, the Galápagos penguin thrives in its tropical Ecuadorian habitat thanks to the calm, nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current, which flows north from Antarctica.

Stars in your eyes: Unobscured by light pollution, the night skies over the Galápagos are some of the most dazzling on the planet. With its unique position straddling the Equator, the archipelago offers a rare opportunity to view the constellations of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres simultaneously.

This is an abandoned flamingo egg, most likely unable to hatch. These small rocks were set here by a naturalist to protect the egg.

Swimming lizards: While they may not be the prettiest of the archipelago’s species (Charles Darwin famously described them as “hideous-looking”), they are among the most intriguing. Marine iguanas—found exclusively in the Galápagos—are the world’s only seagoing lizards. Their laterally flattened tails propel them through the water, while their long, sharp claws help them cling to rocks. Contrary to their fierce, spiky-headed appearance, marine iguanas are herbivores, feeding primarily on algae and seaweed.

Snail mail: Floreana Island’s Post Office Bay dates back to the 18th century when homesick whalers improvised a method of communicating with their families—via a simple wooden barrel. Inside the barrel, they left letters for other seamen on homeward-bound ships to deliver by hand. The tradition continues to this day, with thousands of letters passing through the hands of visitors to Post Office Bay.”

Ah, a perfect nap in the sun.

That’s the news for today, dear readers. Thank you for writing to us and providing love and support over our changes to accommodate my walking issues. You all mean the world to us both.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 16, 2013:

In the Maasai Mara we visited a Maasai Village. This is Chief Richard, who showed us around. It was fascinating, and we appreciated his extra time with us. For more photos, please click here.

Day 2…The Galapagos Islands…Celebrity Xploration…The staff, the ship, the food, the guests…amazing, along with the wildlife…The hard reality we’ve had to face…

The skeleton of a washed ashore whale.

Note: With this many photos today, the paragraph spacing is off and unable to be corrected. But, we thought the photos were more important than line and paragraph spacing.

The Galapagos Islands are, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating places we’ve visited in the world. The magic and mystery of these islands leave one breathless with awe and wonder. Speaking of breathlessness, it is wonderful to be back at sea level and able to move about while struggling for air. In a matter of minutes after we landed in Baltra, The Galapagos Islands, all the altitude sickness symptoms were gone, and we were so relieved.

A sea lion hovering atop rocks.

In less than a week, we’ll be returning to Quito for the last few days until we fly to Manta and drive to our new home in Ecuador for the next few months. We’ll have to face the altitude issues again, but perhaps it won’t be so bad after our recent exposure. We’ll think about that later.

Sea lions at the rocky shore.

The ship is a catamaran built in 2017, with spacious cabins, dining room, bar, and lounge areas that make socializing easy. The dining room has two large tables for eight, which is perfect for our group of 16. The food is spectacular. The “hotel manager,” Augustin, and the chef met with me yesterday to review my food list. After a short conversation, they understood my requirements and seamlessly followed through.

An iguana was basking in the sun on a rock. The Galápagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) is a very large species of lizard in the family Iguanidae. It is one of three species of the genus Conolophus. It is endemic to the Galápagos Islands in the dry lowlands of the islands of Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Baltra, and South Plaza.
A sea lion and pup.

Due to this cruise’s small group of passengers, we’ll eat three times a day, like everyone else. We felt it was rude not to dine with everyone during the three meals and will eat a small amount at lunch to hold us for dinner, which is served at 7:00 pm.

The pup was suckling from its mother.
Beautiful scenery. The shape of this island reminded us of a crocodile.

Last night, at dinner, we had a great time and later made our way up the steep steps (almost a ladder) to the bar area. Tom hung onto me to ensure I didn’t fall, and we did fine. It’s good that we don’t drink a lot, or those steps would be hazardous. Luckily, our cabin is located on the main level, where the dining room and lounge are located, one deck below the bar. We have what is referred to as a junior suite, smaller than a hotel room but comfortable with everything we need.

More seal lions at the shore.
Another sea lion and pup.

Oddly, we aren’t allowed to put used loo paper into the loo. This is a first for us. There is a trash can near the loo. It took a few times to get used to that, but now we are OK with complying. The pristine nature of these islands, owned, loved, and protected by the Ecuadorian country, is observed with strict rules and regulations.

This bird is contemplating eating this pelican’s catch.
The pelican with its catch.
The bird and pelican contemplate who gets the fish.

We fully appreciate their commitment to protecting the environment and its outstanding wildlife population and vegetation, unlike anywhere else besides Antarctica, which we visited in 2018 to discover the same attention to detail in protecting the wildlife and environment.

The pelican with his catch of the day. Then, the little bird grabbed the fish, and the pelican swam away.

Now for the hard-to-write news, I’ve been putting off for over a week… A week ago Friday, in our hotel room in Eden Prairie, my legs gave out, and I fell, tripping over my own feet and landing on my face, a typical “face plant.” My nose bled profusely for an hour, and I had rug burns on my nose, under my eye, and my cheek. Immediately, Tom made ice packs for me, which prevented me from getting two black eyes. Fortunately, we had no plans the next day, and I could continue to ice it.

Sea lions like to sleep next to one another or against a structure.
Zoom in to see the expression on this sea lion’s face.

When we finally went out, I was able to cover up the injuries with makeup, so it wasn’t obvious. Gosh, someone could have thought Tom and I got into a fistfight. We are the least likely couple to do so, neither of us ever behaving violently, let alone fighting.

The Sally Lightfoot Crab is an unmistakably vibrant Galapagos character. Their striking colors make them extremely photogenic against the black lava rocks they call home and popular with visitors. Sally Lightfoot crabs boast a wonderful ability to walk on water – with just a quick hop, skip and jump to escape from danger. They are also one of the most frequently spotted creatures on Galapagos shores. Crabs may not sound especially exciting, but check out the photos below in this blog, and we think you’ll change your mind!
A cute little sea lion resting on the beach.

I didn’t want to write about this since I realize I’m often whinging about my medical issues here and didn’t want to “complain” further. But now, the harsh reality is before us on this ship, impacting both of us immensely.

It is forbidden to take a single shell from the beach.

The two surgeries on each of my legs left me with nerve damage in both legs. Over time and with aging, this has only worsened to the point where I am having tremendous difficulty walking long distances, on uneven terrain, and on occasion, even on the carpet in a hotel room.

Sea lions at the shore.

We had booked this cruise before this situation worsened to the degree it is now. I have trouble walking, maneuvering around furniture, and any obstacles that may be in my way. Subsequently, after considerable discussions, there is no way I can go out on the excursions on the Zodiac boats to the various islands with the terrain consisting of volcanic rock, small rocks, pebbles, and up and downhill climbs. It’s just not possible.

Sea lions can sleep up to 12 hours at a time. They can also stay underwater for days at a time before coming up for air. They are thigmotactic, meaning they love to lie all over each other — their natural state on K-Dock. And they love to nuzzle each other.
A sea lion family was hanging out on the beach.

As a result, Tom will go out on all the excursions and take photos of the wildlife, vegetation, and scenery. When he returns, he shares the photos and details for me to share with all of you here. Am I miserable about this? No, it’s been coming gradually over the past few years, and as always, I’ve adapted as we always do.

It is thought that the magnificent frigatebirds found in the Galapagos are an endemic subspecies in the islands. Characteristics of the Galapagos Frigate …

Sure, I can maneuver about the ship, but it is tentatively so, especially when the ship is moving in rough waters. Sure, I’ll be able to grocery shop, cook, and be active about the house when we move along in nine days. Yes, I can do short walks wherever we may be to get some exercise, but only on flat surfaces. This is my reality. I can live with it. Nor does it impede our desire to continue on. We’ll have to make some adjustments—enough about that.

Sunset in The Galapagos last night.

Starting tomorrow, we will begin posting information about The Galapagos Islands and stop focusing on my issues. Thank you for your ongoing understanding, warm wishes, and patience as we begin a new way of traveling considering these disabilities.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 15, 2013:

A mating couple of lions in the Maasai Mara. We were thrilled to see nature at its finest. For more, please click here.