It feels like I was just in the Galapagos, but a week later I was walking down the familiar streets of New York City and thinking maybe it was all a dream… Did I really see all those birds and tortoises? Did I really snorkel with a sea lion? Being at my parents’ in Pennsylvania with my brother for the holidays doesn’t help either. The neighborhood hasn’t changed, the Christmas lights are the same, and Mom’s making all of our favorite dishes as always. I did go to Ecuador and back, right?
I’m trying to “break in” my new hiking shoes for Patagonia and everyday around 4 or 5, I put on my thick socks and hiking shoes to go out for a long walk. With the sun setting so early these days it’s quite dark by the time I get back. The other day as I was coming up the sidewalk a nice breeze came around me and from the corner of my eye I saw a small brown thing scurry. Without a moment’s hesitation I thought, “was that a lava lizard?”
Of course it was just a dry leaf… Having lived in NYC for 14 years my thoughts used to and should have automatically gone to a nasty brown rodent. It made me smile that instead of thinking it was a mouse I imagined it to be a lava lizard. I did go to Ecuador and to the Galapagos Islands. I did swim with sea turtles and King Angelfish. I did see flamingos and penguins. It may seem like a dream sometimes but I know the Galapagos has made an impression on me for life.
Forget New York City mice and rats! Long live the Galapagos Lava Lizard!
Below is my packing list for the Galapagos. I’m writing it down so that I’m better prepared for my return trip- oh yes, I’ll be going back one day…
* Keens (water sandals/shoes) for wet landings: A definite must. Some of the naturalists used flip-flops or even went barefoot, but they were professionals…
* Lightweight hiking boots or sneakers for walking on lava rocks and other rough surfaces: I took a pair of sneaker because I wanted to use the treadmill on the ship (I ran only once). I could have worn my Keens the entire time and not bother with hiking boots or sneakers.
* Comfortable shoes to wear onboard: I took my trusty Crocs.
* One or two bathing suits and a lycra rash guard to keep warm when snorkeling: I didn’t need the second bathing suit since the first one dried overnight, but the rash guard was necessary. It would have been too cold to snorkel in late November without it. There were people who doubled up on rash guards and/or wore full bodysuits. The rash guard also helped with sun protection.
* Snorkeling gear: NG Lindblad provided all I needed, including fins, mask, 3” shorty suit, and a snorkel bag to put everything in.
* Fleece or a sweater: I packed both a fleece and a cashmere cardigan and I was glad I did.
* Lightweight rain jacket or poncho: It never rained while we were there but I wore it twice when it got a bit foggy and chilly. The rain jacket also came in handy when I wanted to shield myself from getting wet during zodiac rides.
* 1 Long sleeve shirt, 3 T-shirts, 1 tank top (did not wear it), 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of convertible pants, 1 pair of yoga pants, socks, and pajamas.
* Small daypack for hiking: I got one the day before the trip and I used it everyday. It’ll now go with me to Patagonia.
* Binoculars and camera, with extra memory cards and batteries, and waterproof sacks or ziplock bags: Without binoculars I would have missed a lot of spectacular sights. My awesome point-and-shoot (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 12.1 MP) digital camera worked great on land as well as underwater.
* Insect repellent: We actually used it a few times.
* Alarm clock or watch, or iphone/itouch, etc. Our expedition leader gave us wake-up calls every morning.
* Hat, sunglasses, sunblock: a MUST
* Toiletries: Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, towels, shower gel, even a loofah were provided in the cabin.
* Water bottle: I would have taken my SIGG bottle but we were given sterilized water bottles to use and return.
* Journal or laptop: I took my MacBook Air with me and used it everyday. The plug and electrical current are the same as that of the U.S., so I didn’t need anything else.
* Money: Ecuador’s official currency is the U.S. dollar (GDP per Capita ~$3,200)
* Medication: My standard bag of of goodies (Advil, band-aids, Neosporin, etc) but there was a doctor on board so I didn’t worry too much.
* Passport, tickets, insurance
* Flashlight: I packed a small one but didn’t use it.