Sep 21, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II
It's rather unnerving...having spent the past six days being surrounded by nothing but eighty of your closest friends and the balance of flora and fauna that only the Galapagos Islands can provide. Before I opened the blinds to my cabin, I could sense that there would not be a serene beach made of volcanic sand that has been weathered through the eons by battering waves. Was it the rough sea that made the ship rock more than normal, or rather the boats that were not our Zodiacs bringing people to Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz? I must admit, a bustling town of 22,000 people with their motorized transportation, lights and the center of the Galapagos tourism industry was a reality check that soon I will be departing this little piece of paradise. I stood corrected from the moment we disembarked the Zodiacs. This is a place where the human population understands the importance of living in harmony with the natural world. This is evident at the Charles Darwin Research Station; the frontline in the war against invasive species, endemic population restoration and tortoise breeding center. Battles have been lost, but it's a marathon not a sprint.
After celebrating the many successes of the center, it was off to the highlands. A drastic difference from the landscapes we have been accustomed to, being the dry season on the equator. Greeted with fresh coconut milk and blackberry juice, lunch was enjoyed outdoors among the lush vegetation that takes advantage of being on the moist side of the island. A home, not a restaurant, where the meal is prepared and served onsite in a yard surrounded by trees and flowers and all that can be expected from a farm where you feel like part of the family. A short bus ride to another Galapagueian farm where humans and the natural world can live in harmony. A pasture, once grazed by cattle, is now populated by its native inhabitants, the Santa Cruz giant tortoise. It is here that you can see the world as it should be, not only in the Galapagos Islands, but worldwide.
As we travelled back down to port, the unsettling feeling I had about returning to reality was not as disappointing. The people of Santa Cruz and the entire archipelago serve as an example, of how man and nature can live in harmony while maintaining and preserving the delicate balance we can achieve.
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