Final Thoughts on the Galapagos

Puerto Ayora Travel Blog

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It's hard to believe that a little more than a month has passed here in the Galapagos.  I've become so spoiled with animal life and my expectations on dives or snorkeling are unmatchable.  I am afraid that the Galapagos has made me into an arrogant snob about flora and fauna. 


Like all good (ex)consultants, I could divide my time in the Galapagos into finite eras.


25% of the trip as an English translator

<20% working

13% diving

50% living like a Galapaguean: lying,  lazing, lounging, staring at walls, stars, inner eyelids

10% absolutely confused what people are saying in Spanish (90% of that is with my homestay brother who mumbles a lot and ends everything in a question, thus thwarting my smile and nod tactic)

10% hung over


Traveling at 25 is much different than traveling at 20.  It isn't about reinventing yourself in every new city, experimenting with different personas as one would with the local beers or drugs...just kidding, kind of.  I'm pretty confident and secure in who I am...not just what kind of drunk I am, what kind of flirt I am, but what values are important to me regardless of the social context.  I have said before that traveling really helps you know yourself because the only common denominator in different environments is you.  I think it is a testament to the passing years and knowing myself better that the self-discovery has become less salient.  I am more secure and even confident that the persona I have adopted is not just an outfit for the night but who I really am and on the way to who I want to be. 


I bludgeon my way through Spanish, being, in my opinion, quite witty and flirty, until I look over and realize that the local boys here will hit on anything remotely female.  Then again, being remotely female is a good thing as well.  Every somewhat attractive boy here (am I getting to old to call boys boys?) is one of the following: incredibly unattractive due to their aforementioned blind spray of testosterone, have 1-3 children they know about (probably by different mothers), or have a wife or girlfriend (which doesn't really seem to stop guys here).  The good thing is that like most things galapagueans do, it's all talk and no action, so even though it's a bit annoying, it's harmless and sometimes good for the ole' ego.


Traveling at 25 is just awesome.  I have suffered in the corporate workplace long enough to appreciate the freedom of traveling, the value of money, and most importantly, the pricelessness of time and experience.  I am in the crossroads of my life, in the middle of the healthily self-centered decade of "me", where I live out the crazy stories I'll share with my kids (when they're old enough to appreciate the craziness) and relish for the rest of my life, always embellishing the memories as the years take my youth away.  If it all sounds a bit depressive and fatalistic, it is meant to be the exact opposite.  There's a time and place for everything: hammering out Excel spreadsheets, diving with hammerheads, getting hammered.  A time to be responsible, irresonsible, in love, in lust, unrequited, unrequiting. It's just up to us to decide in what proportions we will live our life. 


There is a certain exhiliration and contentment in exploring unfamiliar lands.  I usually go into a trip with some knowledge of the place and some vague picture of what it will be like...kind of like seeing a place in a dream.  And it's always a bit surprising of how things really are and turn out to be.  I find it better to carry very little expectations into a trip, so that the disappointment factor is low...just enough knowledge of the place to make sure I take advantage of the main offerings.  I suppose that is a healthy approach to anything jobs, new relationships, opening christmas presents. 


I don't yet know how this trip has affected me but every trip leaves it indelible mark on you like your first love, the one that left you gulping for air just to be able to share something more with him, and then your first real love, where it wasn't just an addiction but a sentiment, that made you feel that life made sense and that you had a purpose.  Every city is like a different boyfriend (and in some cases, it really is).  Because where as the first half of the 20s was about discovering who I am, the second half is about what I want: in life, in a partner, in a career.  A constantly revising map of my life which changes each time a path is chosen and which in the end doesn't lead anywhere but to "here" and "here" is not as important as the path you took to get to "here."


I would have to say that the Galapagos has been a massage, kneading out the final knots from the corporate grind. I know I will always have the career drive but this experience has been just as important.  It has made me see working as a means to an end (traveling) and not an end to an (premature) end.  In no way do I regret the 3 years I worked in management consulting, nor the countless houurs I will work, because it all is a part of the path to "here" and "right now". 


So, month 1 of 9 is done already.  It goes so quickly!  (just like the money).  :)  On to Peru!

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Puerto Ayora
photo by: timbo