It can’t get any better. And then it does. We sailed through the night to Fernandina crossing over the equator at 5:30 am or so. I arrive on the bridge just a bit too late to see the coordinates on the display read 0 degrees latitude. Javier, the chief officer on the bridge, tells me that it reads that way for only three seconds. I ask him how he came to be here and he tells me that he worked on a container ship before joining the Endeavor. It’s a brief conversation but one that I’d like to pick up again later—my students get excited when I talk about travel and I like being able to share career opportunities with them that could allow them to work and travel at the same time. I’d love to have my students Skype with Javier so that they could ask him what questions they have.
The Not So Peaceful Pacific
Fernandina is supposed to be a desolate place—an imposing volcano, “its flanks streaked with innumerable fresh lava flows, most of them still black and lifeless” reads the daily program that was delivered to our cabin. But, when we step upon the island it is alive and well, teeming with life. Marine iguanas lie stacked atop one another, fighting to recharge their batteries in the midday sun while sally light-foot crabs stumble across their backs picking at the dead skin. Elsewhere, baby fur seals roll around in the shallow waters along the coast—one nips at the tail of a marine iguana like a teething child.
Within a few hours we are back aboard the Endeavor gearing up in our wetsuits for some early afternoon snorkeling along the cliffs of Isabella Island. The waters are choppy here—our zodiac smashes violently against the waves as we push shoreward. Jesse—my fellow Fellow— remarks that it feels a little like we’re storming the beaches of Normandy. We reach our drop site and are welcomed by a sea lion. She raises one of her flippers as if to wave and then she barrel rolls past our zodiac like a torpedo. It is the perfect welcoming—the one I have been hoping for. We’re not long in the water before we spot giant sea turtles. They hover beneath us, stacked like double-parked cars in a parking lot, casually surfacing for a breath of air every few minutes. Further along the coast we spot penguins—some of them people watch beside their pelican companions from atop the black lava rock while others swim amongst the orchestra of divers, snorkelers, and sea creatures.
It can’t get any better.