Sun worshipping 

Just before sunset, baboons climb up the trees to roost, stay warm and get away from predators. Ancient Egyptians thought this was an act of devotion to the sun; that they watched it set and rise again. To protect it and show it affection.

That is how the baboon became the protector of the sun.

I have been living as a baboon, I think, during the past month or so – or more appropriately, a Lobos marinas (sea lion), known simply as Lobos here. How they love the sun! They park themselves on benches, beaches, boats, roadsides, and damn well any place they can point their noses to the sky and roll around in the glazed warmth. And I love the sun too. 

But it has become a bad thing, a tacky thing, a dangerous thing to love the sun. The sun burns our skin and makes us uncomfortable with sweat; it makes us thirst, dry up like prunes, crisp like lobsters. It reminds us of fake tan, Brits on package holidays and superficiality. But I found my group of baboons, and we spent every minute we could basking in heat and light. My very self photosynthesised under the baking glow in the sky, my skin turning a deep gold-brown and my hair bleaching more every day. I am unashamedly happier in the sun, and I worship such external, powerful forces of joy.



So it is with sadness that I depart this paradise, and as the sun sets on my time on the Galápagos, I am grateful for the warmth I’ve found – both in the air and in the people around me. The hardest part of travelling is always the goodbyes, but I also know in my heart that bidding farewell is instrumental in pushing my personal boundaries and forcing emotional exploration. Why, after all, do we get so attached to people in such a short space of time? How does that influence me as I continue my onward journey? 

I’m glad I spent a month on the Islands on the first leg of my journey. I met a truly wonderful host family who will remain in my heart forever; I learned some basic Spanish from them so I am not totally out of my depth. I spent time in the safest of places preparing for greater challenges on the mainland continent, and made the acquaintance of a group of crazy and brilliant girls with whom I could share happiness, hope and positivity. They represent a bubble of vivacity which has put me at ease. 

I have arrived at my Guayaquil hostel internally becalmed and mentally exuberant. I am ready for what comes next. 





my wonderful host family & friends


my last sunset



Last sunset at the beach

Today was the last day of a fellow volunteer, and we spent the evening at the small town beach on San Cristobal, Playa Mann.

Earlier in the evening, we had gathered ingredients from across town so that we could make our own empanadas, a common food here. We had cheese and ground beef inside, vegetables, salad and lentils and I have to say they were pretty delicious.





Sunsets on the equator are battlefield-dramatic and over in seconds, but the aftermath of bloody pink skies are worth sticking around for.







Lava tunnels and volcanoes 

Today I am on the biggest Galápagos island – Isabela. It’s appropriately shaped like a seahorse and is the most beautiful of the three islands I have visited so far. It’s got a tiny population, no proper roads and the animals are bigger and more plentiful; the beaches are broad sweeps of white sand and totally deserted. Palm trees sway softly in the light island wind, while the hard sun beats down on the bronzed earth.

Today I went on a tour of the lava tunnels, a complex cluster of hardened mounds which jut from the sea to create a haven for the most interesting of creatures. It’s the strangest of environments, with rocky outcrops supporting many cactuses and other scrubby plants. An hour’s windswept boat ride and I was dipping into the pristine turquoise waters. While snorkelling there I saw sea horses, a swarm of gentle golden rays, eagle rays, tropical fish, white-tipped sharks, blue-footed boobies, an enormous sea turtle, and Galápagos penguins (some of the smallest in the world at 30cm when standing, and the only penguins in the northern hemisphere)!

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take a moment to appreciate the enormity of this female sea turtle.
take a moment to appreciate the enormity of this female sea turtle.

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The day before, we hiked 16 kilometres to the Sierra Negra – an active volcano which last erupted in 2005 and has one of the largest craters in the world at 10 km (6 miles) across.

It was the most bizarre landscape – like being on Mars. The ground comprised sharp, porous volcanic rock and softly smouldering reddish dust, while in the distance, lush green flat land rolled away as far as the eye could see. To the north west, the ocean lapped at the shore in shades of exquisite blue-green.

This is the world before humans took over. This is the unencroached Earth without human interference, before fences are erected, foreign species introduced and land cultivated and exploited. It’s breathtaking to think how it’s all changed, and what it could be if, once again, the world were put back into the hands of nature.