After a few underwhelming experiences back home left me feeling like I needed to get away, 2 trips fell in my lap within 2 days.  This is one of them.  My pro photographer friend, Benjamin, posted on Facebook that it was so nice to be back in the Galapagos.  A little conversation followed and he offered me a free place to stay if I came down before May 15.  The next day my flights were booked.

On May 6 I took a red-eye into Guayaquil, Ecuador with a 3 hour layover to get through immigration and customs and barely made my flight to the Galapagos.   I arrived in Baltra and made my way by bus, ferry and another bus to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.  I walked to Ben’s place.

In the afternoon of Saturday May 7, we went on a hike to Las Grietas where we snorkeled in the ravine in fresh water with a hint of salt from the sea amongst some fish that had somehow made it here.

Sunday May 8 we took a hike to Tortuga Beach for a swim and to take some pictures.

Monday May 9 I woke up early to workout with Ben’s girlfriend Maluchi.  After we went to the Charles Darwin Station to photograph the giant land tortoises and land iguana.  Afterward we went to a beach for a swim and some photos of the Galapagos Finch.  After lunch we went to Finch Bay to rent a kayak and go snorkeling.  It was a long day and I was exhausted.  We went to the street market for dinner.

Tuesday May 10 we got up at 5am and took a seasick inducing boat out to Gordon Rocks.  After an equipment checkout, we went for a 30 meter dive at Gordon Rocks.  It was incredible to drop into a huge school of colorful fish.  We then dropped down to a shelf at about 20 meters.  There we saw a poisonous fish which lays on the coral and is nearly undetectable as it blends in.  Along the shelf a bit before dropping down further to 30 meters where we saw a school of about 20 Hammerhead sharks from infant to huge adult.  We also saw black tipped reef shark.  I came up and after getting back on the boat I threw up water, I think from being sea sick.  I didn’t go down for the second dive but was told I didn’t miss much.  The pictures of this dive are from the guide, I also have a video of the Hammerheads.

Wednesday May 11 I got up early for another workout with Maluchi.  Ben and Maluchi decide they are going to leave a couple days early (tomorrow instead of Saturday) for a few days in Cuenca and then return for another month as they have a lot of work out here.  I convince Ben to go to the highlands this day (even though he has to pack).  There are only 3 Giant Land Tortoise here as most have gone lower to mate.  Last time I was here there were a couple dozen.  I conclude that December is the best time for the Galapagos for Tortoise and baby sea lions.  This night we went to an open air club and I got some incredible pictures of the moon and creepy clouds with my 15mm fisheye lens.

Thursday May 12 and I have to find a place to stay.  7am and I have a cappuccino with Malucci before they head to the airport.  I go to Sol y Mar and pay for a room for 2 nights and then they tell me they may not have a room for Friday night and it will take them a few hours to figure it out.  I head back to the Charles Darwin Station.  One of the male Tortoise climbed over another and then slid off the platform and turned on his back, I had to come to the rescue and flip him back over.  And finally Lonesome George is not laying down and/or hidden.  He is chasing the females and putting on quite a show.  People at the park didn’t know how lucky they were, I took a lot of pictures.  Third trip to this park...thanks Lonesome George for the pictures.  I return to Sol y Mar where they don’t have a room for Friday night, so I get my credit card refunded and take a water taxi across the bay to the Angermeyer Waterfront hotel.  Good price, smallish room but great service.  I spent the rest of the day laying out on the Finch Bay Beach.

Friday May 13 I took a trip to North Seymour Island which I booked the day before.  I loved this island the last time I came to the Galapagos mostly because of the Frigate birds.  Last time there was one nesting area of 6-8 birds hidden in the brush which was giving my auto-focus fits.  This time there were dozens of birds some of them only a few feet away and out in the open.  The group was large and I had to lag behind to get my pictures.  The last bird, as soon as every one else left, started posing for me throwing his head back, calling, flapping his wings.  I took 50 shots of him and some video.  I got what I came for.  The tour continued with some snorkeling off of Baltra, I stayed in the boat and took pictures of the two 6 foot reef sharks that were circling.  Some of the snorkelers didn’t see them...back on the boat I showed them the pictures and I think they were glad they didn’t know they were swimming with sharks.  The tour finished with Bacchus Beach where I got some Pink Flamingo and Crab pictures.  A very nice day.

Saturday May 14 I return home on another red-eye that arrived Sunday morning.

I took another 800 shots in the Galapagos Islands on this trip and I tried to find the best for this page.  I feel like I’ve done all the things and taken all the pictures I missed on my first trip....but I do believe I will be coming back.

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

May 7, 2011

The value of our life is not solely measured by its length, but also by the depth of our hearts.

And breadth of our experiences.  And indeed the heights that we achieve.