Notes from the Field

In thinking back over the past two weeks here in Galapagos and going over the nearly 1,300 photographs that I have taken, I wanted to select a few that while perhaps not the best pictures in an artistic sense, are the best at capturing the things that have touched me the most and that will linger long after my time here has past. So I’ll take this opportunity to share with you just a few of my favorite things about this truly magical place.

The People
This little girl who I met on the ferry on the day that I arrived in Galapagos typifies the spirit of the people of Galapagos. There is a palpable joy of recognizing that they are living in such a special place that I felt from everyone that I met and a realization of just how fragile a place it is. She represents the future of Galapagos but one which has a firm appreciation of its past and its special place in the world.

The little girl who I met on the ferry the day I arrived in Galapagos

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Diving in Ash

August 8th, 2009 by Gene Feldman

Thinking back on all of the things that have led up to my Journey to Galapagos, I would have never realized the impact that a simple one line e-mail would have. It all started with this note that I sent to Stuart Banks on the morning of 13 April 2009:

To: Stuart Banks
From: gene carl feldman
Date: 04/13/2009 07:52AM

were you guys on fire yesterday or is it another eruption?

Within hours, Stuart replied:

From: Stuart Banks
To: gene carl feldman
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 11:02:26 -0500

Hi Gene,
Eruption in Fernandina Island – lava reached the coast in just 1 day
(SW Cabo Hammond), so seems like a big one!

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(May I Please Borrow a Cup of Sugar — and your Internet Connection?)

NOTE: This was the journal that I was in the process of writing when I learned that I might have a chance to connect to the internet from the Galapagos National Park Service outpost just south of Beagle Crater so I hastily put a somewhat shorter journal together in case that I actually was able to connect. As you’ve seen, I did indeed get to send that journal and here is a little bit about the story behind that little adventure.

Tagus Cove — the very name conjures up perhaps some of the strongest connections with Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos than any place else. To get a sense of the impact that visiting this land forged by the fires from deep within the very bowels of the earth had on young Darwin, one just has to look at his published work on the Geological Observations made during the Voyage of the Beagle and note that although he spent just one day here of the five weeks he was in the islands, he devoted over a third of its pages (36 in total) to a description of Tagus Cove and Beagle Crater.

Tagus Cove

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A day onboard the M/V Queen dawns with the rising of the sun and the hum of the generator. While anchored for the night under the sheltered arms of the steep volcanic cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca just a tad south of the equator, the boat goes silent with the only sounds that I hear as I fall asleep being the crash of the waves on the shore perhaps 50 feet away and the bark of the sea lions. Without any lights to draw my attention, one becomes very attuned to the sounds of the night, especially when one is anchored in a little cove with sheer cliffs surrounding you on three sides and any sound is amplified. A splash of wave against rock, a bird’s call from overhead, a sea turtle surfacing alongside the boat, letting out a hiss of breathe before taking in another and diving back below are just some of the sounds that fill the night.

Volcanic cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca and the inhabitants

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A short tour of the M/V Queen Mabel

August 7th, 2009 by Gene Feldman

I believe that at least two of the descriptions of the M/V Queen Mabel that I had heard earlier in the week were absolutely correct — cozy and that she has character.  In a space that is 50 feet in overall length (including a wonderful bowsprit that I have my eye on) and with a beam of about 15 feet she manages somehow to fit three full decks of living space and even a penthouse above the bridge deck if one is adventurous enough to share the space with the smokestack and life raft.  Since many folks have not had the experience of spending time at sea aboard a small vessel, I thought that I might take some time to describe what life is like on the M/V Queen Mabel.

M/V Queen Mabel

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