Thursday, September 11, 2008

Santa Cruz, Guy Fawkes, and Chinese Hat

The sun wakes me up at six thirty this morning, and in the absence of wake-up calls for breakfast I assume I have slept through everything important, missing out on so-called "Dragon hill" and the land iguanas. I drag myself out of bed only to discover that breakfast doesn't start for another half hour. I should have stayed awake, but I stumbled back into my bed and rolled over for the half-hour. That was my first mistake.

The second time through, I can't wake up. Can't run my hair under a faucet to remedy my bed-head, can't change out of my pajamas, can't even pull myself out of bed, can barely roll over and curse the sun for rising at all. Part of me is looking forward to going back home to sleep - not because I can't sleep here, but because I haven't been. Mao has taken over the youth on board, and we have grown-up (college aged) games after hours, when the kids are asleep, playing until eleven or eleven thirty. This is late on this ship, where the majority of passengers have blue hair and are happy with seven a.m. wake up calls.

Breakfast is, therefore, rushed -- just enough time to drink a glass of mango juice before I am rushed out to hike. So I shrug and head towards iguanas, stomach growling.

Iguanas are territorial creatures, but that means different things for different varieties. For the ubiquitous (as in, so common they are constantly getting under foot) marine iguanas, this means "Please do not sit on the couch with me unless you are no threat or a sexy lady" or possibly even "Please do not lie on top of me unless you are no threat or a sexy lady". For land iguanas, however, it more closely parallels "Get off my yard, you hooligans!"

Meaning that land iguanas are scarcer on the ground, and fight with eachother more readily, especially as it is currently mating season (It's possible that, in the galapagos, since we are at the equator, it is always mating season). They don't crawl into the path, but that doesn't mean they're exactly hard to find. Next to nothing that they've had us looking for is. We trek up, and back, and see our fill of land iguanas.

I think I'm going to go through a wildlife withdrawl when I get back to the States. I mean, the past week I've been walking on trails so covered with large animals -- lizards, sea birds, marine mammals, turtles and tortoises -- that I'll miss it considerably when I get home. I think that's common. I might have to buy a pet turtle to make up for it, though. A small one.

Before and after lunch is snorkeling. Yes, two snorkeling adventures today. I was thrilled. Tomorrow, the last day of the trip, also features two snorkeling adventures, and although shrugging on the wet wetsuit was less than enjoyable, having the opportunity to spend even more time floating with the animals was great. The first time around, there was a friendly pod of sea lions, and beautiful cliffs that dropped straight down through the water, bright coral and beautiful geology. The second time, however, there was a friendly penguin, and a sedentary shark (and, from the sounds of it, a sleepy ray as well for those of them that found it). Halfway through the second trip, Matt-from-Harvard says "Have you noticed all those fish? It's impossible to touch one -- they're too fast!" He's grabbing at them, failing hilariously. Not to miss out on ridiculous fun, I chase the sparkling silver fish with our penguin friend, not catching any. Jessica-from-Santa-Clara joins in eventually, as well, and it's laughter and fishing all around.

The penguin is a torpedo with wings. Underwater, it looks like the ungainly thing is flying - the same wing motions that would allow a bird of different proportions to fly in the air allow it to zip through the water. My body is not built for penguin movements, so although I try to swim penguin-style (arms out, flapping up and down) I know it is ineffectual, and I switch back to human-style soon enough. I go back to the ship and pass up on the kayaking, a grave mistake since there were shenanigans, and overly friendly sea lions (Jessica was nearly marooned on the rocks when one decided to pull her kayak with it a ways). But you can't see them all.

Over dinner, we see something jumping out of the water, and I leap out of my seat to get to the railing. Ken-from-DePaul tells me not to jump overboard, helpfully. Jessica runs down to the lower deck to get a better look, catching strange glances from the assembled staff. It has disappeared, but Jessica and I have gotten half a glance at it, and I suggest (since we agree that it was too pale and too big to be a sea lion), that it was a slightly deformed albino baby orca. We laugh for a while until it comes back in all of its sea-lion glory.

After dinner is the time for Mao, with the older kids. And all of my fears about this-group-doesn't-live-up-to-home are blown away. It is raucous and fun and a great time. Matt suggests that it's the three of them against me, taking the game seriously enough to keep track of which cards I might or might not have when I get down to one or two cards, and is proven wrong when Jessica wins something like three games in a row. New rules are vetted and determined to be goofy enough or serious enough, as the case may be. Toga parties are discussed, along with other theme parties and their pros and cons. It is an all-around good time, and I am somewhat disappointed that after Saturday, I will never see any of these people again.

I hadn't expected to make friends. I guess in my wildest imaginings, there would be one person who I hit it off with enough to regularly be my buddy on snorkeling outings or kayaking. But we have a little posse, the four of us, and although I recognize that it's not necessarily a friendship that will last after we leave the Galapagos, by any means, it is still sort of miraculous that it happened the way it did, and I'm blown away by my luck.

I suppose that's what facebook is for, when it comes down to it.

1 comment:

ayn said...

Hooray for making friends, and as for wildlife withdrawal, you just need to capture one of everything and bring them home with you. OBVIOUSLY.