Here's a cool example of some of the wacky plants and animals in the Galapagos. This is a cactus (our guide said prickly pear) with a soft bark.
Sea lions just hop onto docks and boats to sun themselves. We saw these sea lions (lobos marinos in Spanish) while we were waiting to get on a boat to transfer to a different island.
While on Isla Isabela our group went snorkeling. I'm ashamed to admit how bad my underwater photos turned out, but this one, showing the sea turtle, turned out pretty nicely. My favorite part of that snorkeling trip was just chasing that turtle.
The next day our group went to a wildlife reserve for turtles. There were turtles all around, though they weren't super happy about all the tourists with their cameras. Our guide estimated that this turtle here is a little less than one hundred years old. Apparently, there were once fifteen different turtle species in the Galapagos. Now there are eleven species remaining. However, that's counting the famous "Lonesome George" as a species to himself. George was found in the 1970s, and as far as we know he's the last one of his species. He's around 120 years old, so scientists have about thirty years left to find a suitable mate for George. The only problem? He's just a little bit timid after all these years by himself.
A highlight was scuba diving on Sunday morning. This was one of about four sea turtles we ran into on that trip. We also swam with rays, sea lions, and a whole bunch of fish.
The trip was spectacular for several reasons. First of all, the Galapagos are gorgeous, with warm days, cooler nights, expansive beaches, and unlimited wildlife watching opportunities. The cooler part for me, however, was the independence to explore that the trip afforded us. Our tour guide helped us see different parts of the Galapagos and learn some of the history, but from there we were basically on our own. I was really proud of how our group is now proficient enough in Spanish to make our way around without any issues. Finally, the trip to the Galapagos represented a bit of a treat after four months of sometimes grueling work. I'm looking forward to coming home at the end of this month, but seeing the Galapagos made me just a little sad to be leaving this amazing part of the world.