The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
It is impossible to summarise the last eight days of my life – never have I felt so close and at peace with wild animals. I was expecting to see them, yes, but I wasn’t expecting to feel such calm and tranquillity around them, and for the response to be mutual. Sea lions, iguanas, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, penguins, manta rays, sting rays, sharks, sea turtles, frigates, crabs, pelicans – we were closer than we ever thought possible.
I laid on the beach beside slumbering sea lions, swam side by side with turtles for hours on end, came eye to eye with resting white-tipped sharks. I sat by the ocean and watched marine iguanas crawl by, only inches from my feet. I stood with tortoises a hundred years old as they munched on grass and barely gave me a glance. I swam with schools of barracuda as they swirled around me underwater, the bubbles from my scuba tank the only break in the calm.
And every day, I was amazed; every day, I was blown away by the beauty of life there, by the landscapes and the Pacific and the blue and green. We spent our days by our own schedules, spending mornings underwater, afternoons in the sand, evenings with a latte to watch the sea lions fight with pelicans over fish scraps at the market. Every day was for exploring, for feeling so in love with the world, for being incredibly grateful to be in such a unique place.
On our last day in the Galapagos, in between our dives, a school of about two dozen dolphins started swimming along side our boat. All of us, save the odd “wow” or exhalation of awe, fell silent. They raced to keep up, jumping for us, putting on a show for us, just as excited to see us as we were to see them. With wind in our hair and with wonder in our eyes, there was nothing to do but watch.