05/24/2012, Hiva Oa, Marquesas
We Made It!!!
We arrived outside the anchorage of Hiva Oa at 11 PM. Total time to get here - 19 days, 9 hours. Not bad, but boy were we tired. We made friends with a trimaran just pulling in from Mexico, several hours earlier when they hailed us on the VHF radio. We had noticed a strobe light off in the distant dark, immediately thinking (dreading) that it was a long line fishing vessel. Hearing a friendly voice that went with the light instead gave us a reassuring feeling for our last night on the open sea. We're not so alone now we thought. Both of us heaved to, which is a way to park your boat in the middle of the ocean, where you are almost stationary - hopefully bow into the swell - and you just slowly drift, passing time until it is time to continue. The Lisa Kay however does not like to heave to (or we just don't know what we're doing!) and somehow we always seem to end up beam to, meaning as the swell hits us on our side we roll violently back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...but anything was better than hand steering for a third night in a row and we definitely didn't have enough fuel to drive in a circle all night. At first light, Larry started up the engine and we steamed into the anchorage. Ahhh....It is GORGEOUS! STUNNING! BREATHTAKING! And yes, you can smell it! It smells...well, it smells green... like vegetation...in all forms. Like grass and old lawn clippings and flowery, and like trees in a forest, and wet wood. Steep, majestic, razor sharp spires reach up into the clouds that blanket the mountain tops. This is the greenest place on earth I have ever seen. Our first tropical paradise!
The Marquesan people are some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen. No wonder the famous French painter Paul Gauguin became so enchanted here and never left. They are equally warm and generous, whether they're giving us a lift when we hitchhike to and from town, or inviting us into their yard and picking us sweet fruit from their personal stash.
Being a holiday weekend - we're not sure what as the language barrier has been a little tough - we were treated last night to some traditional dance performances by the men in the town park. The men are large - especially by Central American standards - and quite muscular, with these amazing tattoos. Followed up by some sort of women's competition, playing various games such as tug-o-war, a sack race, arm wrestling (unbelievably I won my round!), a run with the cup of water to fill the bottle race, followed up by a Polynesian dance contest. Guess who got thrown in the pot to participate out of all the other boaters? You guessed correctly - moi (I'm so glad I get to provide the laughs for my family and friends)! Not speaking the Marquesan language or French, the ladies did the best they could and treated me like one of their sisters. Smoking pot seems to be the thing here as alcohol is outrageously expensive and hey - I guess when you can grow it organically and easily in your own back yard. Needless to say, I was the only sober participant.
Up early today, we wanted to go into to town and experience church Marquesas style, and they did not disappoint. The Polynesian Christian music nourished our souls, followed up by fresh baguettes nourishing our stomachs. Ahhh...you gotta love this place.
05/23/2012, Somewhere in the South Pacific
5/22/2012 - 19 days at sea
09 54.58'S; 138 14.34'W
PS: Are We There Yet?
Dory (the auto pilot) died. Well actually Larry just thinks she's in a coma, but we can't seem to revive her at this time. So yes folks, you are thinking correctly, we have been hand steering now for two days and two nights. The good news is that our biceps are getting really big and we're gonna look fantastic in our bikinis (insert laugh here). Of course this happened just after the sun went down, and not only could we not get the autopilot to work, our steering has this funny "loose" feel to it. Yikes! "This is not good," says Larry. No shit thinks I. Ben was asleep - Larry and I did one hour shifts through the night steering in the confused seas - this being a new form of torture (going to sleep for an hour, getting up, going to sleep for an hour, getting up, I think you get the picture now) until we figured out the miracle medicine of the ipod. Better than any caffeinated drink or pill - just drown yourself in music. Oh, and I do have to remind myself to breathe, because in great moments of fright I find I have a tendency to hold my breath. So, by the second night and all three of us taking shifts - with the added addition of tootsie roll pops - a two hour shift was a piece of cake! Poor Larry tried in vain to fix her (Dory), even going as far as replacing the motor with a re-built spare we have. This of course meant emptying the aft lazarette again (third time is a charm, right?) and contorting around all those moving parts. The steering unit all looks okay although the cables may be loose, but this is going to just have to wait until we stop. Oh well, on the bright side this could have happened our third day out (insert sigh here).
The good news is that we will pull into Hiva Oa tomorrow morning!! We'll actually arrive around ten this evening but as a rule we don't pull into an anchorage in the dark, especially an unfamiliar one. I don't know if I'm going to fall on my knees and kiss the ground when we get there, or if I'm going to puke but I cannot wait! The champagne is chillin in the 'fridge as we speak. This really is quite an accomplishment. Larry says it's the equivalent of driving from New York to Hawaii at about 7.5 mph. No rest stops, no greasy trucker diners, no playing tunes on the radio or listening to Dr. Laura or Rush Limbaugh - just us - plugging along.
They say you are supposed to be able to smell land after you have been out to sea for so long. I'll get back to you on that one. At fifty miles out my sniffer is yet to detect anything except the fishy smell of the dead flying fish on our deck. They are practically the only form of life we have seen this entire crossing. It really has been quite boring. Another boat we chat with on the SSB has a kitty cat that is in seventh heaven as these live treats are literally delivered at its paws! I've been asking the boys what they are craving and they both said, "Hamburgers!" Larry though is also dying for ice cream. Me - fresh fruit and juice! Mmmmm...Silly me thought we would be living off the fruit of the sea, fish, but sadly no. Ben hasn't really been in his "deadliest catch" mood which was fine by me seeing as most of the days have been too dangerous to step out of the cockpit, but we're getting pretty hungry - only having had one serving of chicken in the past 3 weeks.
Well, as I close this posting I feel weirdly anxious. Can't quite put my finger on it - this is going to be a long night. We send our love out to everyone. I cannot thank you enough for all your kind words, support, and prayer. We feel it to the core of our beings. XO
05/19/2012, THE PACIFIC OCEAN
Day fifteen on the high seas - and high seas they have been. Today is the first day in the last eight or nine that we have not been in 18 - 20 knot winds with 2-3 meter seas, and then all the wind chop and cross seas that go with the squalls that have 30 knot winds - and you get the picture - or so I thought. I kept thinking, what is wrong with me? Why am I so nauseous? Why is my head pounding? Why are my legs shaking and I feel so weak? Yeesh, what good am I if I can't cook and take care of my boys? I'm not cut out for this at all...But then, by day three of this nonsense I realized - I'm sick you dummy! So, after four days I am back to my somewhat perky self (it's hard to be perky when you are in perpetual motion ALL the time, and really are only getting an average of 6 hours of sleep per day and that is broken up in 2 or 3 attempts).
With 700 miles to go we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have to say though that with the calmer seas, wind, and weather today, if the whole trip had been like this it would be a breeze. But alas, one never knows for sure what the ocean might cook up. This truly is not for the faint of heart. Now that I've finished reading my 50 Shades of Grey trilogy I've started on a book called Swept: Love With A Chance Of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche. It is a true story and it really is hysterical. Larry says I remind him of the author, because of the way she tells her story of taking off on a sailboat with her boyfriend. Anyway, I had to laugh when I read her line in the book about doing night watches; "I'm learning that night watch is a blend of deep meditative relaxation, punctuated by surprise defibrillator zaps."
Yesterday we began to experience a "rudder failure" warning on our autopilot. Hmmm...I know people used to actually steer their ship 24/7 but somehow that just doesn't sound appealing to me at all. "Is it the large waves overpowering the autopilot," Larry and I silently ask each other with our eyes? Trying not to show fear, what we're really saying in the backs of our minds is, "Oh shit!" (Yes, I'm starting to talk like a sailor again only this time I've earned it!) So, with two hours of daylight left (go figure) and Larry thinking he'd really like to get a good look at the steering system we drop the sails and start up our trusty motor thinking that would be a kinder and gentler on our steering system. Larry has now affectionately named our autopilot Dory, because it sounds like the way Dory was trying to communicate with the whales in the movie Nemo, if you remember. Okay, then we had to pull everything out of our aft lazarette - which basically is our garage -and try to place the items on deck so they wouldn't roll off as the boat swayed back and forth side to side in the huge swell (that was my job). Are 'ya with me so far? Now that Larry has pulled the floor out of the compartment, in order to get to the steering unit, he has contorted himself through a 25X25 inch hatch and is precariously balancing between the constantly moving hydraulic steering quadrant and cables. Ei-yi-yi! He pretty quickly figures out what the problem is, the pin on one of the wheel units is working itself out allowing the wheel to tweek and probably freeze up when the boat is trying to turn. In English this means, really bad. "You mean we could totally lose our steering?" I really try to not sound too panicked. So, while Larry lays down in this compartment on his right side, knees pulled practically up to his chest (ah yes, the fetal position because THAT IS WHERE YOU WISH YOU WERE AGAIN!), twisting and bending forward down into this small hole with a flashlight in his mouth, a mirror in his left hand and a hammer in his right, he patiently beats away on this pin - trying to not get a finger, or hand, or arm cut off by the moving hydraulic unit - while the boat goes heave ho, heave ho. I pray, and pray, and pray, as the foreboding blackness of night envelops us. "Okay," says Larry, "this is not working so tomorrow morning - Plan B." We patiently re-stuff the lazarette, exhausted. We nurture the steering through the night and miraculously we don't have one failure. Thank you Lord! Gazing at the amazing plethora of stars that night during my watch I see the biggest, brightest falling star ever! And I make a wish...
The next morning we feel refreshed. The wind and seas have calmed down considerably - ahhh. Hear that..? Exactly! We unpack the lazarette again. Larry's new plan is to remove the steering cable off the quadrant (he says theoretically, we should be able to steer the boat just with the control dial on the autopilot but I don't get it but I don't question him either), then remove the problem wheelie thingy, take off another good wheelie thingy that is easier to get at and replace that where the bad one is, fix the bad one then replace it where he removed the good one. "Sounds like a plan, dear", says I. A few minutes later he pops his head out of the hole and says, "You're never gonna believe this but I fixed it! There is no logical reason as to how I just did that." Thank you Lord I say again, only I shout it this time!
Now in the meantime, I have forgotten to mention that we suddenly had a flood of water in our engine room, right around the time the steering was going to shit (oops, there's that word again). Hmmm...tastes like salt water (yes, this is what you do on a boat to determine the nature of your problem sometimes, you taste them). So, now in the Bikram type setting, meaning the steamy, 120 degree engine room (remember we were running our engine the whole night in order to take it easy on our steering) MacGyver/Larry patiently gets to work on figuring out where in the world is all this water coming from. You guessed it - it's our generator AGAIN, only this time the heat exchanger actually has a hole in it. Ba dum! This translates in English to no water maker, no air conditioning, and no wii. I think we'll live this time. Our still very sweet 11 year old says, "Mom, I think there's a reason why God doesn't want our generator to not work right now and we'll be just fine." And in that moment I thought, you know what kid - you're gonna be just fine in life. Sometimes things just are what they are in life and if you can figure that out by eleven...wow. But!!! Hold on folks!!! Larry/MacGyver comes up with a fix and so far it's holding...well sort of...we'll see.
625 miles to go! Ben asks each one of us everyday at least ten times (I'm gonna kill him) are you excited? He really has been great - not complaining - well maybe just little yesterday when he couldn't play his wii! He has faithfully been doing his night watches, usually the 3 - 6 AM shift, which has helped us old folks out immensely. It has been the hardest thing in the world for me to wake him up at 3. A mother just doesn't wake up a sleeping baby! But I do, and then I crawl into bed with my adoring, talented, oh so capable husband and we blissfully snooze together for a few hours.
05/12/2012, THE PACIFIC OCEAN
The Wild Wild West
You know the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, the one where you're strapped into a jeep and go for a bumpy, rolly, out of control ride, where your body lurches one way and your stomach lurches another? Well that's about the best description I can give you of our ride right now, minus the screaming and laughing and giggling. What was I thinking?! I guess the titles of this crossing like; the puddle jump, crossing the pond, or the ever famous "coconut milk run" enticed me into thinking we would be sailing along in these beautiful trade winds with this long period sea swell gently lifting us over the azure blue water with dolphins and whales frolicking about. Ha...hardly! Now there are moments of great pleasure don't get me wrong, and Larry keeps reminding us that you have to have the lows in order to experience the highs...ya de yada de yada.
Holy sh__ (insert beep here)! I think I'm dying. I would have died for sure on the Mayflower. My kinfolk would've had to go on without me. This is a slow form of torture. It's like having morning sickness, the flu, and a really bad hangover all at the same time! I'm gonna personally write Cheney a letter and tell him to forget the water boarding! Take a terrorist, put him on a little boat in big seas 24/7, getting none to very little sleep, minimal food (because it's just plain 'ol too hard to get it) and I guarantee you he will tell you whatever you want to know within a week. My body feels like jello. Sometimes my legs feel like they can hardly hold me up any longer.
How is Ben you ask? Oh he's great! He wakes up every morning (well sometimes it's almost noon) and we ask him, "How did you sleep?" And do you know he ALWAYS answers, "Amazing!" Gah! He loves it out here. He can watch movies and play wii for hours and be just fine, and then ask me, "Mom, when's dinner?" I Snap back, "Dinner?!" Needless to say, we aren't exactly eating as I had planned. I did manage to make potato salad and an apple pie late yesterday afternoon, much to my peril. My butcher knife was bouncing off the counter and landing at my bare feet, the peeled hard boiled eggs were landing and splitting on the floor, the pot of boiling water with the potatoes were sliding across the stovetop, Larry almost fell overboard throwing the apple peels in the ocean, and the apple pie juices were spilling in the oven creating a burning black haze throughout the salon. But it was so good when I was done! Luckily I did prepare quite a few meals before we left, but just heating them up in the micro is no easy feat. Maybe we could turn this into the newest detox fad diet. Most days we cannot even stomach a cup of coffee and for those of you who know me - the thought of a glass of wine makes me gag. Wait... did I just really say that?!
Ben has caught 3 dorado - 2 were too small so we released them and the other was a female so we released her too so she could sustainably go on and make more babies. Flying fish are everywhere! We actually have to walk around the boat and throw all their little dead bodies back into the ocean so our boat doesn't start to smell. They are entertaining to watch though, as hundreds fly out of the water for quite a distance as our boat slices through.
Our first night or two out, Larry spotted a fishing vessel with long lines out with the all familiar faint flashing lights on the flags that mark where the line is. As we approached however, the ship went totally black. Hmmm...why would he do that? Fortunately we've had the pleasure of the biggest full moon of the year and it has been incredible. Moon rises and moon sets are by far my favorite! The moon really does help you see the outline of things in the dark so we were in no danger of hitting this vessel. The next day Larry and Ben spot off in the distance a bright orange canister, like a 55 gallon steel drum, floating by. At first thinking it may have been a life raft they drove closer. Then in the afternoon we suddenly hear the rhythmic thump of helicopter blades. Huh?! The helicopter flyes right at us, circles us, and then hovers and reads the name of our vessel. Larry signals to the pilot with our VHF radio to call us, he signals back that he does not have VHF. Hmmm...My immediate thought was that they were looking for someone in distress and that was some floating debris that went by earlier. I started to cry. The thought of someone like us in trouble made me lose it. Then logic started to take over; that wasn't a rescue helicopter, no helicopter could fly 900 some odd miles from land, and last but not least if they were rescue they would certainly have a marine radio. We slowly start to realize, that the canister emits some sort of sound wave that attracts fish, the helicopter then flyes out from the mother ship to spot the canister to see if the fish are there, then goes back to the ship and reports its' location. Ta dum! That's some high tech fishing there, and probably where your chicken of the sea comes from. We have actually seen some tuna riding the wave of our bow lately, and the occasional dolphin, which are always at risk of getting caught in the tuna nets, as they love to eat the tuna too. (Can you tell I've had a lot of time on my hands to think 'cause I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ELSE?!)
Larry has been running the morning and evening net on the single side band radio, for all of us boats that are heading to the same place. He does a great job and I am really proud of him for doing this. It is a great comfort to us all, to check in, give our latest coordinates, make sure all is well on board, and just to hear another friendly voice. This is an enduro and a lot of it is just mind over matter, as with most things in life.
Two days ago we were almost able to check one of Larry's "bucket list" items off, that being making a 200 mile day on the Lisa Kay. We had 197 nautical miles! So close! Currently we're traveling at 8.5 knots, in 20 knot winds, and the seas are 2-3 meters with the occasional 10 foot swell, and then all the wind chop that goes with the higher winds. Ughh! (Oops, I just heard a huge crash downstairs as Larry is trying to do the dishes!) Do you feel my pain?! I know all of you are smugly shaking your heads back at home saying, "I told her she was nuts." I wonder if this is like having a baby, when a few months later and you are holding your cooing bundle of joy (hence making landfall in one of the most gorgeous places on earth) and think - , hmmm...could I do that again?
05/05/2012, THE PACIFIC OCEAN
Our last twelve days, here on Isabella, have been glorious. Santa Cruz Island was a bit of a disappointment and to any of you cruisers coming here in the future don't feel too bad if you skip it entirely. The town of Puerto Ayora (where you anchor on Santa Cruz) is cute and definitely more touristy than the other islands. We thought the provisioning would be the better here though, but I didn't think it really warranted the stop. The torture of the rolly anchorage almost made it unbearable, not to mention that someday someone is going to get seriously hurt trying to get on or off their boat from the water taxi. The good news however, was that we were able to meet up with our new Australian friends on Cat Weasel. With their two boys, both around Ben's age, it makes the experience for Ben that much richer and more fun.
Because there seems to be some misinformation about coming to the Galapagos Islands or total lack of, here it is a brief summary for you fellow cruisers:
Option 1: You can choose to make just one stop at one of the three main islands; San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, or Isabella, for a twenty day stay maximum - being your least expensive option to visit the Galapagos. It really is best that you make arrangements ahead of time with an agent on that island, rather than just show up. According to our agent on Isabella, JC Soto, 2/3 of the boats that showed up this year were unannounced. As of this week, the Parks Service and government officials are involved, which in turn may involve the police and they may start having people return to a port of entry ie: San Cristobal or Santa Cruz with their passports to officially clear into the country.
Out of all the boats we have talked with here, if they had chosen the option of only one island, Isabella would be the place to stop at hands down. It is beautiful, with crystal clear turquoise waters and powdery white sand beaches. The small town is safe, cute, and oh so peaceful. They have all the animals here, from sea lions, penguins, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea turtles, sharks, giant manta rays, flamingos, and blue footed boobies. (I'm sure there are many more creatures but these seem to be the main attractions.) Provisioning is minimal, but you can get by. I was delighted on Wednesday, the day before we departed, by a sudden delivery of all kinds of veggies in the markets. We definitely won't starve now during our 3000 mile crossing! THERE IS NO ATM OR FUEL ON THE ISLAND. Isabella is also home to Sierra Negra, the volcano with the second largest caldera in the world.
Option 2: You can get an autographo, which allows you to visit all three islands, with a maximum stay in the Galapagos of three months. As I had stated earlier, for the three of us, the cost was $1198. Now, it will vary by the length of your vessel and the number of persons on board of course. We are very happy that we have chosen this option as we have felt unhurried and are glad that we have been able to check out the main three islands.
Option 3: This one is purely for emergency status, and that would be if you were by passing the Galapagos completely but suddenly fall upon some kind illness or a mechanical failure on your vessel. I believe they will give you a 72 hour reprieve as you scramble to fix your vessel. However, you are not allowed to book any tours or explore the island.
With the exception of option 3, as I said earlier, the use of an agent really is mandatory. We used Bolivar Pesantes in San Cristobal where we cleared into the country, who took excellent care of us. He had representatives on each of the other islands making our stops there seamless. The officials are well versed with vessels that try to take advantage of the system. Let's hope they don't put the officials in a position to eliminate access by private vessel to the islands. Let's just say, the Ecuadorian government takes their role as stewards to the Galapagos very seriously.
Now all of what I have stated is open to change each year, I'm sure. It makes us sad that once again, because of a few cruisers that stop here and try to outsmart the rules or are basically just too cheap to pay to visit this beautiful place, will only hurt it for all of us in the long run.
For you landlubbers, I would imagine taking one of the many luxury cruise/tour boats would be the way to go, albeit this is not a cheap option by any means I'm sure. I would recommend however, that you follow up the cruise by spending several days to a week on Isabella, whether it be in one of the very inexpensive hostels or a nicer hotel such as the Iguana Hotel. You will really then get a sense of the people, and be able to enjoy the animals personally and at your own pace. It's also an opportunity for you to contribute a little to the local economy as the people who eat and sleep on the tour boats contribute very little to the locals.
No one, in their lifetime, should miss this place.
So, back to Isabella...aaahhh...it has been heaven. Like I said earlier, the water is gorgeous and as I write this there are three adorable sea lions sleeping peacefully on our swim step. Now their poop isn't so adorable and they are quite messy creatures, but it's nothing that doesn't easily wash off so we don't mind. The island of Isabella is the largest in the chain. It's about 100 miles long and is shaped like a sea horse. There are several volcanoes, with the last eruption taking place in 2005 on Sierra Negra. Well, of course we had to do a tour of this volcano! Just a mere 20 kilometer walk (the last half being in the pouring rain and two foot thick mud), but the volcano was cool and we had fun and knew how much we would appreciate this later when we are stuck on the boat for 20-30 days sailing to the Marquesas. Not a bad idea to wear long pants stuffed into your socks and a long shirt on this hike as there are ticks and wasps, and people were bitten. Once again the snorkel trips here are fantastic including swimming through lava tubes and looking in caves for the sleeping sharks. Larry, Ben, and two others on one of our tours even jumped in the ocean to have a short swim with a giant manta ray (see video and pictures previously posted on our blog)!
We weighed anchor yesterday afternoon with a painfully heavy heart. We have really, really loved our time here. As we sailed out of the anchorage another boater let us know we still had a sea lion asleep on our back swim step. We woke him up and he was able to stay in the Galapagos.
Now we have completed our first 24 hours of our long journey to the Marquesas. We've traveled 159 miles so far, 2840 more to go! Our conditions so far have been quite pleasant. The Lisa Kay has sailed beautifully in 8-11 knot winds at 6.5 - 7.5 knots of speed, motor sailing through the night when the winds got lighter. We haven't quite settled into our routine and are quite tired, but we're relaxed and know that in another day or two we will have adapted. We are grateful everyday for this opportunity and for the seaworthiness and creature comforts our vessel has to offer.
Special thanks to our daughter Jessica who has agreed to post all of our writings as we make this crossing. We will continue to send SPOT messages as we cross knowing that it doesn't work in the middle third of the ocean. So don't worry if you don't hear from us!
04/24/2012, Porta Villamil, Isla Isabella, Galapagos
Thanks to our friend Zan for the video!
April 17, 2012
To Darwin Or Not To Darwin
We are waiting for a fuel delivery (a legal one that is), $6.41 and change/gallon, and we need 200 gallons - ouch! The cost for a local person is a $1.02, hence the; do we get it legally or not legally? In keeping with our "ever trying to maintain good boat karma", we chose the legal approach. Hopefully if it gets here this morning, then we'll be able to head over to a new island called Santa Cruz.
Our last few days here on San Cristobal have been relaxing and wonderful. We have made many new cruising friends, from all over the world. Everyone has a story to tell and loves to share. Two local boys, around Ben's age, have been coming out to our boat everyday and even though our Spanish isn't that great and their English is non-existent we had a great time with them. We even rented a three person kayak so the three boys could kayak with us old folks (in our two kayaks) around the point to a sweet little cove and swim with sea lions. I cannot even begin to tell you how playful the sea lions are. They come right up to you and look at you, mimicking the bubbles you blow or the somersaults you do. You just feel like you could stay in the water and play with them forever. And by the way, they're from the same species that we have in Northern California. Of course our first night on the island of San Cristobal we had a sea lion resting on our swim step that had been munched by a shark, (only on the Lisa Kay could this happen) a rather large shark I might say by the size of the teeth marks it left! We tried (feebly) to get help, but slowly came to the realization that this was nature at its purest and we needed to accept the fact that with this many sea lions around, obviously there would be a predator or two. We were thrilled when several days later the little lion showed up again for a rest and seemed to be healing nicely. Our last day on San Cristobal we did an island tour spontaneously, with a taxi we picked up on the corner where the water taxi lets you off. Our driver, named Moses, was lovely and we really had a great time. We hiked up to a lake in a now extinct volcanic crater, we visited a tortoise breeding and rehab center, hiked out to a beach with blue footed boobies, and ate fresh guyava (guava fruit) off the trees on the side of the road. Local tradition says that if you eat the guyava from the trees you will be bound to return to the Galapagos within two years. Ben said, "Oh I'm DEFINITELY coming back!"
So, getting back to the title of this blog, To Darwin or to not Darwin, hmmm...on these islands he is quite a celebrity; with statues, streets, and tortoise breeding centers named after him. He basically put these sacred grounds on the map, so to speak. But what I have been trying to understand is why were his idea's a personal attack on God? I get that he was the first person to introduce the idea of evolution, but my struggle is why can't you have a heart of faith and yet still believe in evolution? The bible says God gave man free will, who's to say he didn't give nature the will to change, adapt, and survive? I feel like I've been an experiment in evolution and adaptation these past 2.5 years living on a boat! I can't even begin to explain the changes in character, and strength, and expectations of my surroundings that slowly occur accumulatively over time. Wouldn't this be the case with anyone or anything? Whatever you choose to believe, there is no easy answer here but what I can say is that the feeling you get in these islands is a sense of harmony. It's pure, it's innocent, it's wild, and it's beautiful...and no one in their lifetime should miss it.
See pictures in the photo gallery titled "Galapagos"