Al and I had a wonderful time in the Galapagos Islands! It was everything we expected and more! The Galapagos National Park is a World Heritage Site for preservation of nature, both plants and animals. It is an Archipelago of Islands that has its own unique flora and fauna that doesn’t exist anywhere else. In 1835 Charles Darwin visited it and noted that the life forms there differed significantly from the vegetation and animals in South America. He later used this information to formulate his theory of evolution, claiming that the animals had evolved to accommodate to their new island life. Colors for camouflage and the shape of tortoise shells for feeding purposes are just two examples. Today there is a Charles Darwin Research Station dedicated to breeding and preserving endangered species. We saw Lonesome George, the last of his tortoise species, there. Efforts to breed him with tortoises from neighboring islands have not been successful.
It is forbidden to touch the animals or plants, take anything from the park, leave anything at the park, or change anything inside the park. As the animals have nothing to fear from people, they do not run from us. We could get within one foot of the seals, birds, and tortoises and they would not move. It was amazing! Especially remarkable because it was breeding season and the animals had babies and still did not run from or attack us! I will be telling you more about the islands in other blogs but for now I just want to reassure you that I had enough strength and endurance to participate in most of the on-shore activities, which required lots of hiking – no cars allowed in the park reserve areas! In fact, there were two excursions that sounded too strenuous but we met another passenger, Anne, who had obviously been on this cruise before and told us ways we could take the easy parts of the hike and then come back to the cruise ship, which I nicknamed the mother ship. She was fluent in Spanish so she even spoke to the head of the tour guides in Spanish and explained our situation.
And, of course, God was with us, as always and He spoke to me many times. The second day of our trip, we were sightseeing in Quito, Ecuador. We went into a gothic cathedral that had a special Adoration Chapel that is never open to the public, but its door was open this day. Our guide was surprised but I told her, “It’s God speaking to me. He is telling me not to worry, that I will be able to participate in the excursions on this trip.” Now this was an important affirmation because Quito is 9600 feet above sea level and Al and I both had problems breathing at the high altitude. It cleared up as soon as I went down to the Islands at sea level. On Saturday, as our ship was leaving one island en route to the next, we saw a small rain bow arc. By now I had successfully taken 3 on-shore excursions. “That’s God telling me, ‘See, I told you that you would do well on this trip’.” On Monday we went ashore and it rained. As Al and I were standing under our umbrellas, God put a full double rainbow in the sky. Several other passengers asked to stand under our umbrellas so they could take pictures of the rainbow. This time God was telling me, “As I promised, you have made it successfully through the trip so far; the full rainbow is to let you know you will successfully make it through the rest of the trip.”
We flew in and out of Quito and stayed in the same hotel. When we were going to the Galapagos we asked for a 6:00 am wakeup call and they did not call us until 7:00 am. So Al complained. As we were leaving the country to return to the States, we asked for a 6:00 am wakeup call and the lady at the desk assured us we would have it this time. God had another idea, though. At 5:51 am we were awakened by an earthquake! As we were on the 7th floor of a 10-story building, we definitely felt it! It wasn’t severe and did not last long, just long enough to wake us up! Al said, “OK, God, I get it! I won’t complain about wakeup calls anymore!” But I heard something different. I heard God saying to me, “No matter what happens, you will get through it. Even if it’s something you have no control over, remember, Jesus will carry you.” I want to thank everyone for their prayers. I cannot emphasize enough how your support healed me so that I was able to take this trip. A year ago I was in and out of the hospital getting fluid drained from around my lung. Now I feel stronger, after all the hiking, than I did before I left! I need to add some incline to my treadmill to maintain this new level of endurance! Again, thank you so much for your prayers and support! I could not have made this trip without your help!
Two pictures show giant tortoises that weigh about 600 pounds. You can judge the size by the small yellow warbler perched on one of the tortoise’s back. There is a picture of a mother fur seal nursing her baby, an adult blue-footed booby bird, and a cute fluffy baby booby. Yes, there really is a species of bird called boobies. They are graceful when flying but clumsy when walking on the ground. Then there is a picture of me in my trekking clothes, with our guide and a giant tortoise in the background.