Galapagos. Night 1. The Sea.

The night sky is a swath of velvet with pinpricks shining through. So many stars. So. Many. Stars. So many that the constellations don’t stand out as individual formations, but are a mass among masses of twinkles. I stare, and everywhere there are twinkles. I can’t not see twinkles. I stare up and my eyes drift down all the way to the horizon. Dense darkness and sparkly stars are all I see.

I know now why The Milky Way is called such. The cloudy path across the sky, which upon viewing with binoculars are millions and millions of sparkling stars, so close together they appear opaque. Milky. A giant brush stroke across the sky.

The rocking of the boat, whispers with my best friend, and a sky full of sparkles. This already is a great trip.

Galapagos. Day 1. San Cristobal.

Nothing.

That’s what I hear when I’m underwater. I love the all encompassing silence while snorkeling. I gracefully move through the water, my arms close to my sides, kicking only intermittently to propel myself forward. I breathe in slowly, I breathe out slowly. Life has slowed down. I’m so happy.

I watch schools of fish swim under me, coming closer, and closer. I’m tempted to reach out and touch them, but I don’t want to disturb them, their perfect formation. I love being the observer, just watching, drifting, and slowly moving closer to the observed.

The sunbeams highlight the matter in the water, the murkiness is cut by the piercing beam of light. It’s a world in which everything is not crystal clear, a world in which more and more things are revealed the longer you wait. Patience and stillness are rewarded.

A marble ray materializes. As it gently glides below me, I hover above it, watching and wondering, “How quickly can it move? Does it generally attack any body part? Or does it go for the face?”

A sea lion pops up. Others swim towards it, gradually encircling it. I worry. Is it scared that it is surrounded by people? Does it feel trapped? It responds by simply diving under and around them, as though in a game of tag. I want to see it, but I don’t want to get too close (could it bite my arm off?). I stay back. I watch it swim, flip, and dive. I lose sight of it.

I’m floating, happily, lazily, and feel a presence beside me. I turn my head and see the sea lion right beside me. I’m still. I turn on my back and slowly swim away, watching it; it follows. It swims around me, nipping at my fins. I back away some more, very slowly, concerned that it is bigger than me, wondering if sea lions like to nibble at humans, wondering how thick my wetsuit is and if it could bite through it. I turn over, laying in a dead man’s float, quiet and still, watching it out of the corner of my eye. It spins, dives, swims, tumbles through the water, claps its fins, and swims directly towards me at high speeds then turns at the last possible moment. Oh. It’s playing. It’s not going to hurt me. I imitate its moves, until it targets a new playmate and swims away.

We’re called back to the boat. Already? I don’t want to leave the water. I do, reluctantly, and am greeted by the ever friendly crew and hot cheesy empanadas. This is going to be a great trip.

Playing with the sea lion
Playing with the sea lion