Day 22: A Day of Bliss

Dear Mom and Dad,

When I woke my up this morning, my thoughts were filled with excitement, wonder and adventure! Why might you ask? Because I am currently staying in the epic and influential islands that we call the Galapagos! Already stunned by its beauty from yesterday- we were able to see the drastic weather and climate changes on Santa Cruz- I couldn’t wait for what was in store today. And what better way to experience The Galapagos than having an open-free day with no class!

To start off the day, I was able to have my favorite breakfast, which consisted of egg whites, vegetables, and hot sauce; it was the perfect amount of protein to start this once in a life time day! As we set off downtown, we picked up some fun snacks so we could have a long beach day. The downtown of Santa Cruz was the perfect tourist oasis. It was peaceful, not too busy, and consisted of many cute and local shops, restaurants, and bars- perfect for a 21 year old like myself. My favorite part of the center was the plethora of seafood options! Since growing up on the North Shore of Boston, I have a love for fresh fish, and was excited for all the meals that were in store.

When we got to the beginning of Tortuga Bay, we were surprised to see that the walkways were narrow and long! With our mind set on having a full day at the beach, we took on the path that seemed like the Great Wall of China, so that we could get to the ocean. After breathing heavily and already feeling like we completed a workout for the day from walking, we finally made our destination to the water! Never seeing water so blue, I was speechless!

Similar to Hawaii, the waves came in three, and ranged from small to big. Looking at my classmates’ reactions, we were all in amazements of the beautiful site! While walking down the beach to the “safe zone” for swimming, we felt the fine sand underneath our feet. The beach was so untouched and pure because we were all visitors of the beach and its wildlife. As we approached the lagoon, our whole class came to a halt with astonishment because we came across unusual reptiles that looked like dinosaurs. They were lying everywhere, as if they were the entrance gates to the lagoon. With spikes from their heads down to the end of their tales, these mysterious creatures didn’t bother to react to our intrusion of their home.

These “dinosaurs” are called marine iguanas and only live in the Galapagos. Stunned by their uniqueness, I followed them to a side path that went to the ocean. Surprisingly as I approached them to take photos, they weren’t scared and didn’t look like they were going to attack me- a very reassuring feeling that I don’t normally get when coming across wildlife. Due to doing a little research prior to the Galapagos, I knew that the marine iguanas had spouts to spit out the salt they had on their skin since they can’t sweat. When they are ready to release, they produce a sound like a sneeze! When I approached a few of the iguanas, I couldn’t help but jump because of the interesting sound they made when they sprayed out the salt. Additionally, I was stunned by how effortlessly they swam from the rocks into the water. Marine iguanas can stay under water for an hour and can dive to over a 100 feet deep! To me, these reptiles seemed more like a lockedness monster than an iguana. My mind was full of wonder and disbelief, to be among such amazing creatures that helped prove that evolution does exist by exclusively adapting to their environment.

Eventually I pulled myself away from the marine iguanas, and I met up with my classmates to swim (something I have been looking forward to this whole dialogue)! The water was the perfect temperature and was so clear. I effortlessly did laps across the beach; it was so easy because the water felt like I was in a bathtub. After this, I couldn’t help but go rock climbing and see more marine wildlife. Many of the rocks were like lava rocks that were the home to another community of marine iguanas, as well as huge crabs. Due to walking by myself, I was able to peacefully watch the marine iguanas sleep, and enter the water to find their food of choice. Their diet consisted of seaweed and algae, which they had to obtain by swimming in the ocean- it was such a beautiful site to watch!

To finish up the beach day, our instructor Jose took us surfing, where I was able to stay up briefly, and then quickly fall in the crashing water. This activity was very fun, but I eventually needed to go back to my towel and lounge, from all the energy exertion. When I returned, everyone was taking advantage of the scenery by painting and drawing in their sketchbooks on the beach. It was so nice to just relax, and fully soak in the spectacular environment that we were so fortunate enough to be visiting at.

With the exhaustion of the long day, we all decided to go back to our hotel; we all left with crispy skin and a full day of beach-fun behind us. Once I took a cold shower that relieved my body of the warm weather outside, I decided to go to the center on my own and explore. There I saw all different types of people along the pier and fish market. The animals consisted of pelicans, a grey heron, live lobsters and fish that the fishermen were selling to the locals and tourists. It was so cool to be among the hectic environment because there was so much to see and take photos and videos of. To me, the pelicans were my favorite because they reminded me of the bird from the movie “Finding Nemo.” The huge birds were such huge and graceful creatures, and were focused on getting the catches of the day from the fishermen.

Following this interesting site, I continued to walk down the beautiful downtown and took everything in. Sooner or later I realized my stomach needed food, so I headed back to meet up with my classmates for dinner. We all went to a local street where they had open tables in the middle of the road and restaurants outside that were open to the public. I loved it- I felt like I was really apart of the community and culture that the Galapagos had to offer. To complete my day, I rewarded myself by purchasing the island’s specialty, which was their famous lobster with coconut sauce. Coming from New England, and being the hard food critic that I was, I had to say that the lobster was tied for first for being the best lobster I have ever had! The lobster was filled with the richest of meats, and was cooked right after picking it out through the exchange with the waiter. At the restaurant, I was able to pick out the live lobster I wanted to eat- so cool!

Happy as clams and our skin cooked to perfection from the long day, all of us got celebratory drinks downtown after our dinner to end our successful first day on Santa Cruz. With stomachs full and thoughts bursting of happiness, we all made our way back to the hotel early and went to bed. Ending the night exhausted in my bed, I couldn’t help but already be excited for the following day. However, my body at the moment was defeated from the long day, and fell hard asleep for the rest of the night (dreaming of marine iguanas obviously).

As you can tell Mom and Dad, I am having an unforgettable time here with my professors and classmates in the Galapagos. Thanks so much for this unbelievable trip. As of now, your only concern of my travels should be me never wanting to leave this paradise. By the end of this excursion alone, I’m going to have more pictures and videos than I can count. See you soon!

Love your sun-kissed daughter,