Monday, April 20, 2015

Galapagos: Paradise on the Brink

At just past 8 a.m., the harsh morning sun is beating down on our group. Like obedient schoolchildren, we form a semi-circle around our tour guide, Wilo, rapt and hanging on his every word. Nothing can distract us—not even the calls of frigate birds mating in the surrounding incense trees, their wings outstretched and their trademark red gular sacks inflated. Already the novelty of wildlife within our grasp has faded.

It’s a sharp contrast to the day before, when we had first touched down on this five-million-year-old archipelago.

“I don’t know if this is what I was expecting,” said my seatmate, Jill, as the plane taxied down Baltra Island. The airstrip blended seamlessly into the volcanic landscape, which was empty save for low-lying shrubs. “There’s really nothing here.”

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