It is in those quiet moments that we often realize that common thread we each use to weave our life’s story.
Such was the case when Kathy and I sat down to explore our options for a meaningful trip to take this winter as she had a free week between semesters at her studio and I am never one to turn down the opportunity to travel. We had eventually settled on the idea of traveling to the Galapagos, a magical destination that had probably been on my bucket list, if not Kathy’s, since before I knew what a bucket list was. As I have expounded on in earlier blogs, it is the love of science, and in particular, the natural sciences, that have always directed my life. The opportunity to travel and work in Africa over the last eight years has been the realization of a dream for me and it would be difficult for anything else to even compete with what I have seen and done there. I will always consider my visits to the Great Rift Valley and Oldupai Gorge as my travels to Mecca or my quest for the Holy Grail. It has been these experiences that represent the culmination of all that I have learned, all that I have studied and all that I have known.
Hence, when contemplating a destination and having Kathy offer to travel with me to the Galapagos, I jumped at the chance, though full knowing that she must have sensed some unfulfilled yearning of mine to visit this place so entrenched in the world of science and mystery. But how were we to accomplish this given the high cost of cruises to visit the various islands? Enter AirBNB and the means to find a low cost solution to staying in the islands and exploring on our own. Yes, there was still the airfare to get there and once there we’d want to take a day cruise or two, but this was still much cheaper than living aboard a ship for a week with three meals a day and lots of luxury. This was a much more viable option and would allow us to explore several islands at our own pace.
So, now this brings us to how I came about sitting in the Panama City, Panama, airport at 6am on a Saturday morning pondering these thoughts and putting them to type. We’re on our way to Quito, capital of Ecuador, where we’ll spend two nights before heading to our final destination, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Archipelago. My only sibling, Jeff, is meeting us this morning in Quito as he has been traveling there for work for the last year or so and our trip just happened to coincide with one of his visits to Ecuador. Jeff and my nephew, Nick, had accompanied me to the top of Kilimanjaro in 2015, and it is so great that I will have his company once again even if it’s not for our visit to the Islands. I’m really looking forward to exploring Quito with him over the next two days.
So, it is with this introduction, that I invite you now to spend the next week exploring Ecuador with me, first in Quito, with it’s high mountains, and then in the amazing Islands of the Galapagos, with all it’s natural splendor and scientific history. This is certainly a diversion from my normal stories of our work at FAME, but I think you will find the same themes, that of exploration, growth, humanity and the natural world. Enjoy.