This morning I wake up early and go running with Emma. I’m not sure how far she likes to run, but I want to do a quick jog since I haven’t been too active for the past week. We end up running up to the small beach at the Darwin Station, despite la garua. We stand on the beach for awhile and talk about the Galapagos, college, friends, travel, and more. Finally we decide we need to jog back to the hotel so that we can make it to breakfast on time.
Emma, Laura and I are the first to breakfast, and the woman in the kitchen comes out to serve us. We start out with bread that looks rustic with a dark, textured crumb, but is sweet and soft on the inside. I finish it hungrily, and the next course is a small plate of scrambled eggs with onions and cheese. It’s delicious, or rico as the locals say. We wait at the table – Laura waits in the hammock – for Sarah to come down so we can ask her about the day’s agenda. When she arrives, Sarah tells us that we’ll be snorkeling all day. I’m a bit distracted by her fabulous snorkel outfit; head to toe figure hugging rash guard material, the top a paisley pattern of pink and green, and the leggings a myriad of blues, greens, and greys. I manage to stay focused long enough to hear that we need all of our snorkeling equipment, a towel, extra clothes, a camera, sunscreen, a hat, and whatever else we think is necessary. I add a few KIND bars to my bag, plus a plastic bag of dry clothes for the trip back to shore. I’m ready!
We meet our guide Rene, and begin the long voyage to our snorkeling destination. To pass the time we continue our game of Thumper from the night before, and even teach the game to Sarah. Naturally, she chooses a turtle as her symbol. We play for quite some time, but the game dies down when the fantastic scenery comes into view all around us. Dark black lava rocks jut out from beneath the waves, and we pass cliffs of rich sandy browns and desert-like flora. As we get closer to land we begin to spot sea lions basking on the rocks, lazing about in the sun. We see countless pelicans and frigate birds, and our excitement rises. We haven’t even gotten in the water yet.
When we finally get to go in the water, I’m a bit nervous. Most people aren’t using floatation devices, and Kevin assures me that usually a wetsuit is enough to float comfortably without much effort. I decide to try snorkeling sans life vest, and jump off the boat and into the water. During the first trip I have some problems with water coming into my mask and snorkel. It’s just a trickle but it’s enough to throw me off for awhile. I finally manage to focus on slow breathing and get comfortable in the water.
Throughout the day we make four snorkeling trips, complete with a snack break of a bananas and bread with chocolate baked inside and a lunch of sandwiches, cookies, and plantain chips. Some of my classmates see white tip sharks and have close encounters with sea lions, and I stumble upon a massive sting ray in the last snorkeling trip. It’s easily the best snorkeling I’ve ever participated in, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to explore in this special place. By the end of the trip, I’m elated but ready to go back to the hotel. I’m tired but happy.
Oddly enough, my day reaches its peak after the snorkeling trip. We end up driving across Santa Cruz (for the second time- remember that we did this drive yesterday) to get back to town, and we take three white pickup truck taxis for the trip. Rene asks if I want to ride in the back, and I bolt over to the truck and hop over the side. I spend the next hour or so smiling and giggling like a toddler, overwhelmed with joy as I watch the beautiful landscape fall behind the truck before my eyes. I’ve seen this road already, but this is a whole new experience. I can feel the wind blowing around me, the cool mist of the garua as we reach the highlands, and I’m surrounded by pure nature. I’m alone in the back, and I relish the time to myself. I soak up the thrill, the freedom, and the pure exposure to nature, and I’m loving every second of it.
When we arrive at the hotel, I’m a bundle of energy and jubilation. I try to explain my delight to my classmates, but my experience can’t quite be described by words. I declare that the best way to travel is in the back of the truck, but nobody quite understands. It doesn’t matter to me, though. I’ll remember that truck ride for the rest of my life.