Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Things I Saw in the Galapagos
Sea lions are everywhere!
We frequently had to step over them.
For some reason, I'm craving turtle soup. Okay, that wasn't nice. The Galapagos tortoises were almost wiped out by sailors, who took them for fresh meat. A G.T. can live for a year with no water and no food, a pretty good deal in the days of no refrigeration.
Blue-footed booby with chick and egg.A face only a mother could love -- marine iguanas. Fur seals. Note how the face looks more like a bear than a dog. They are also smaller and lighter in color than a sea lion. I'll post some more pictures later. Gotta get some work done now.

posted at 2:44 PM
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Ships and Birds and Tortoises
I'm ba-a-a-ack! We had a wonderful time in the Galapagos Islands, although I seem to have left half my brain behind. I have done the following just this morning:

--- Sent an inquiry to someone at the factory who quit the company several months ago.

--- Could not remember my sign-in name for blogger; finally had to pretend that I was going to comment on someone's blog so it would tell me what my name is.

We were on a boat called the Evolution. It had 15 cabins, a lounge, a nice-sized dining room, an outdoor bar, a hot tub and various decks and alleys. The lounge probably took up half the upper deck, but it was only used for the nightly briefings. When we weren't hiking or snorkeling, we were in the dining room, in the bar, or on the deck looking at the stars. On the clear nights, the view was absolutely incredible. We were in the middle of nowhere, literally, with no lights to spoil the view. The milky way is so visible, and it turns out there is something called zodiacal light, which is a triangle of light that ... um, points to something in the zodiac ... the Professor explainted this to me in great detail, but all I remember is being amazed that there really was a triangle of light in the sky. (Well, I told you we were spending a lot of time in the bar!)

I am an early riser no matter where I am or what I am doing, so I saw the sun rise every morning. I also watched them raise the anchor, a sound which functioned as an unpleasant alarm clock for those still asleep, but which I found fascinating. The food was very good; in fact, we asked for several recipes. Twice a day we would load onto two rubber rafts, which they called pangas, and head to an island where we would either hike or snorkel along the coast. Oddly, the best snorkeling was in the rain, a trip I almost didn't make until I realized that it made no sense to worry about getting wet while I was in the water. There were huge schools of gorgeous tropical fish; there were starfish and sting rays and manta rays and eagle rays; there were sea lions and penguins swimming under and around us. One guy who was in incredible shape jumped out of the panga one day and caught up to a pod of dolphins and swam with them. He said one dolphin came up from behind him, looked him in the eye, and clicked at him. We are pretty sure the dolphin was saying "Nice job, human."

The animals are totally unafraid of people. Some of the beaches are full of sea lions, some of marine iguanas. And then there are the boobies -- blue-footed, red-footed, masked. They really do have a mating dance, which in the case of the masked boobies consisted of alternately throwing their heads in the air and nuzzling each other. The pace increases, then they start cooing along with the head movements. It gets faster and faster; then he jumps on her back. You can tell when things are successful because he starts flapping his wings. We apparently witnessed a young male boobie getting some for the first time in his life because after he hopped off he threw his head in the air and let out a noise that sounded exactly like "Woo-hoo!" I didn't see that behavior from any other male, and believe me, I saw enough boobie sex to last a lifetime.

Fortunately, I didn't have to get involved with Lonesome George, the tortoise. Biologists were trying to mate him, but none of the females they brought in interested him. They were very concerned, so in order to capture his sperm they hired a young grad student to manually ... um, stimulate him. Apparently George was very picky and they went through several young women before they found one who was successful. No matter how bad my days might get from now on, I can always comfort myself with the knowledge that at least I'm doing better than those poor grad students!

I have to quit for now, but I promise pictures soon.

posted at 9:08 AM
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Mitey Mite

Texas, United States

I am older than dirt, but I still feel pretty young & some call me the Energizer Bunny. I share a house with the Professor & 3 cats. Between us we have 5 grown children, all of whom are productive members of society (!), and 10 grandchildren. I have a job I love, a little money for the 1st time in my life, and so many more things I want to do than I will ever have time for.

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