Sea Lions Line Gardner Bay Beach on Española Island
7 Important Life Lessons I Learned
in the Galapagos Islands
The first time we traveled to the Galapagos Islands five years ago, I felt as wide-eyed and full of wonder as Jack Skellington when he discovered Christmas (What’s this? What’s THIS?!?! La la la la la la).
Animals with no fear of humans? Four to five different species hanging out together peacefully on a five-foot square rock?! Sea lions that swim up to you when you’re snorkeling, enticing you to play?!? What IS this magical nature-lover’s utopia?!?!?
Returning to the islands on an 8-day, 30-passenger small-ship cruise with International Expeditions a few weeks ago, I was no less impressed with the astounding natural beauty this remote Ecuadorian archipelago has to offer. But because I knew what to expect this time around, I found myself more focused on each memorable moment my daughter and I shared.
Here are seven important life lessons I learned from the Galapagos Islands:
Manali-Leh tea lady
Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Ladakh lies in far north India, in the heart of the Himalaya. The name of the region means ‘land of high passes’, as it’s completely locked by mountains on all sides, and so it can only be reached by air, or via a grueling trip across passes over 5000 meters over sea level.
Ladakh occupies the western half of the Tibetan plateau; its history, language and culture are closely related to Tibet. As such, Ladakh is one of the best places in the world to experience and get to know Tibetan culture, especially in summer when beautiful, colorful festivals take place in monasteries.
However, the future of Ladakh may be bleak. Ladakh is a high-altitude desert, with only 100 mm of rainfall every year. Global warming brought increased rainfall in the region – during the night of August 6th 2010, a year’s worth of rainfall fell in under an hour, triggering mudslides and flash floods that killed over 300 people.
We were in Ladakh that night. This photo story is a tribute to this beautiful land, and to all people that lost their life.
Surfer in Puerto Viejo
GO GREEN TIP #110: 5 Environmentally Friendly
I was standing in front of the sink of a shared bathroom in Puerto Viejo. Ten years before, when I first visited the same town, the only restaurant was a lady selling chicken from her own kitchen, a couple tables scattered on the porch, and it must have gotten business because the shared kitchen at this hostel still had all of one knife, no handle, and an assortment of about five broken pots and pans to accommodate a sleeping capacity of well over a hundred people. Now, there was a restaurant down every alleyway, all of them paved instead of dirt, and I counted something like three supermarkets, twenty-six hotels, fifty-seven souvenir stalls, and one first-rate bakery within a two-block radius.
For the moment, though, I was brushing my teeth at an hour a little earlier than normal for the patrons of this particular hostel, which had a nightly bar centered on an ice chest. There was no mirror to watch myself, usually an unattractive circumstance anyhow, so I scrubbed while reading a flyer posted next to the sink. It was about the ills of fluoride. With a mouth full of foamy chemicals that were no doubt killing me, I decided then and there, even if this hostel probably wasn’t the marquee place to seek medical advice, it was time make a change. Toothpaste had always been a problem anyway.
Back Where We Started: Our Next Amazing Adventure!
It’s incredible the difference a few years can make in your life and career. And sometimes we only recognize the “pivotal moments” years after the fact.
Back in 2011, GGT was approaching its one-year blogiversary. Mary and I were focused on our freelance work and building our improv comedy company, running the blog in our spare time. We knew exactly what we wanted to do with the site, but had no idea HOW to do it.
One day we got an email from one of our PR contacts: “Ecoventura is pleased to invite you on its press-designated cruise through the Galapagos Islands October 2-9, 2011.” That email changed everything for us, and that trip to the Galapagos started the snowball that led us to where we are now.
The Coral Restoration Foundation
Celebrates World Oceans Day
Held on June 8, World Oceans Day is an annual day of celebrating our oceans and taking actions to protect them. Originally proposed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 by Canada, the day was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008. Now, thousands of conservation organizations around the world observe the day with events such as beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests and sustainable seafood festivals.
To honor this year’s theme of “Healthy Ocean, Healthy Planet,” the Florida Keys-based Coral Restoration Foundation is hosting its first ever Plantapalooza. The event will find eight vessels taking around 70 volunteers to plant 1,000 healthy stag horn corals in seven different reef sites. In the process of promoting the World Oceans Day message of international ocean awareness, they’ll also be helping to save one of the world’s most threatened coral reef systems.
We recently spoke with the CRF’s Education Outreach Coordinator Ashley Hill to learn more about the importance of corals to the marine ecosystem, the importance of healthy oceans to our planet, and what divers, boaters and other travelers can do to make a difference.