See Crabs and Sea Lions

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This blog entry about the events of Saturday, November 22, 2003 was originally posted on November 29, 2003.

DAY 35: The Galapagos Islands attracts many kinds of visitors, from retired American couples and their funny-looking beach hats and Bermuda shorts, to scuba divers and their funny-looking everything if they ever walked out on the streets with all their gear on.  I put all this gear on for my first dive at 5:45 in the morning off the coast of Isla Rabida.

With me was James, Sylvain, a Spanish-fluent rastafarian from France, and his Guatemalan girlfriend Carolina.  We were led by our resident divemaster Ty, an Israeli diver who was always seen wearing either one of two outfits:  his wetsuit, or the same tie-dye shirt and cut off jean shorts.  With his curly hair and sunglasses, he looked like he was perpetually at a Grateful Dead concert; Andre described him as the one guy that appeared as if you could ask him to take you diving and score drugs from at the same time.

A dingy took us to a drop point and immediately as we submerged, a curious sea lion swam around us.  Shortly thereafter, we were greeted by lots of tropical fish and swam amongst them with our flippers on our feet and our dorsal air tanks.  Near the bottom of the ocean floor, it suddenly took a lot more energy to stay in one place; we had entered a relatively strong current and had to hang onto lava rocks to stay put or advance.  It was a morning exercise routine that put pilates to shame.

“How was it?” Navid asked when I got back onto the ship.

“Great; I don’t even think I need coffee this morning.”

AFTER BREAKFAST, WE DID A LAND EXCURSION on Isla Rabida in two groups.  Mauricio led my group along the designated trail — the only allowable place to wander in the national park.  At a nearby lagoon, we got our first glimpse of the famous Galapagos wildlife, a lone flamingo fishing for food, marine iguanas and sea lions (and their turds).  Mauricio lectured about the endemic cactus trees and the endemic finch birds.  It seemed he liked to use the word “endemic” a lot.

“That’s a baby camera,” he said when he noticed my little Sony DSC-U30.

“Yes, it’s endemic to Japan.”

ON THE BEACH, baby sea lion pups were squirming around and wobbling along with their tiny newborn bodies.  I believe the most scientific way to describe them is “Aw so darn cute!”  Seriously, I don’t think anyone could come here and not want to bring one home.  My group went ahead, but I was fixated on just watching the pups come in and out of the water.

“I could just watch this all day,” I told Sonya, who was trailing behind as well, enamored by their cuteness too.


AFTER LUNCH, our ship had arrived at another island, Isla Santiago, where we did another land excursion.  I was in a group led by the other guide, Tatjiana, a 24-year-old Ecuadorean naturalist who lived with her aunt in Puerto Ayora.  She led us along the tidal pools in the lava rock, hardened in a state that looked like someone had spilled a bottle of Magic Shell chocolate topping.  Mother sea lions reared their young as bright red “sally lightfoot” crabs contrasted their bodies against the dark rocks.  The crabs Tatjiana explained, were named after a scientist’s wife Sally who was so bored of the Galapagos during a visit of her husband that she left after two days.  How being bored and leaving after two days translates to “lightfoot” I’m not sure, but maybe she never saw how cute a sea lion pup could get. 

We walked down the shore of tidal pools above underground water tunnels that spit up like geysers with the coming tide.  The ocean mist cooled the bodies of the many marine iguanas that stood around in groups and just stared at the sun like kids in front of a TV.

After some snorkeling, we watched a soccer game that was in progress at a makeshift arena on the island that ships’ crews made to keep from getting bored when waiting around for tourists.  Perhaps Sally should have done the same; then maybe we’d have sally soccer crabs.


BACK ON BOARD, we passed the time watching a bootleg DVD of Underworld while Ty went underwater to dislodge our anchor that had been caught on some rocks.  Navid and I had dinner with our rum and Cokes with two Swedish brothers who were traveling with their mother.

We had our official opening toast after dinner where everyone had to introduce him or herself in Spanish, except for the crew who had to do it in English.  Afterwards, I stood out on the main deck watching the stars.  The sky was incredibly clear and I saw stars in places I didn’t even think stars existed.  Meanwhile, the others were watching Hollywood stars — namedly Martin Lawrence and Paul Giamatti — in a bootleg DVD of Big Momma’s House.






Next entry: The War With Portugal

Previous entry: Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer




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Comments for “See Crabs and Sea Lions”

  • Hello Erik, Good to have you back, missed the blog last week.  Loved the sea lion pups, you took the words out of my mouth.  There so damn cute!!  Welcome back

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  01:58 PM


  • those sea lion cubs are very cute. and those crabs looked like they got cooked in the sun. very strange looking crabs.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  05:49 PM


  • aww.. they’re so cute!

    did you take any pics while diving? underwater camera?

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/29  at  08:45 PM


  • hey erik, just wanted to let u know that i told my professor about whatexit.net and she absolutely loves it.. she’s ordering gifts for her whole family for christmas!.. markyt was really happy to hear that, thought u would be too..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  05:21 AM


  • gorgeous pictures by the way..

    and does “isla rabida” translate to rabid island?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  05:28 AM


  • sea lion turds look like rocks…iguanas are cool….pics are tranquilo, tranquilo

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  02:11 PM


  • Oh, great pics! Very worth the wait…. you read my mind, aw so cute!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  03:55 PM


  • cristina:  thanks for the plug!  EVERYONE, that’s http://www.whatexit.net hee hee

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  09:37 PM


  • Those crabs are SO neat! I want to see one in real life… Oh well.
    Thanks for the pics! I’m truly jealous.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/02  at  05:42 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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The War With Portugal

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Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer




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