It felt a bit like going home. Our one month journey to Ecuador was reminiscent of my days living overseas as a youth and young woman. Between the ages of 12 and 27 I lived in Indonesia, India, Japan and Hawaii, (obviously, it’s the United States but with a strong ethnic and island feel to it). Life in foreign countries, in particular, made a huge imprint on me as a youth that is difficult to describe. What I can say for sure is that this journey to Ecuador left me feeling a bit as if I had come full circle, a voyage back to a remarkable time in my life. A time that I can now experience through the eyes of a mature adult. Notably, there is now an added layer of depth and richness for me as I venture to interpret and document my experience as an artist and aspiring conservationist. It was an important trip for me in this way. And undoubtedly, it left me hungry for more.
There were three major legs to our trip. They were; exploring culture in the village of Cotacachi, shooting hummingbirds in Region Andes Cloud Forest and of course, photographing wildlife of the Galapagos.
Featured here are the adorable Galapagos Sea Lion pups. We were in Ecuador during pupping season so we had a hay day enjoying these adorable creatures. They are similar to our California Sea Lions but run a tad bit smaller in size. Of course, part of the charm of Galapagos wildlife is that they have very little fear of humans which is a dream for photographers. Galapagos, however, is understandable highly regulated as far as how close one can go to the animals and on most islands one must be under the supervision of local naturalist guides. They are really attempting to preserve the islands and the wildlife in their rapidly growing tourism environment. We kept a careful distance and used our 100-400 mm. lenses and at times a 500 mm with a 1.4 extender.
The guide on one of our excursions cutely commented that they have two types of sea lions on the Galapagos….light brown ones and dark brown ones….in other words, dry ones and wet ones. This last picture was taken after these two exhausted siblings wrestled endlessly in the surf. Their soaking wet coat becomes a rich dark brown now free of the itchy sand that they understandably become very annoyed with. These little ones are incredibly playful and it was simply amazing to see the pups up to five at a time chase each other and wrestle like bear cubs!
The Galapagos is truly an incredible environment rich with culture, wildlife and remarkable history. The quote below is one that appeared in many places throughout the island including on the backs of tourist’s tee-shirts.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
not the most intelligent that survives.
It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
― Charles Darwin
As I contemplated Darwin’s amazing discoveries through his studies of the Galapagos I felt transported to another time. I thought about how his theories apply in various ways to my own life. One in particular that seems relevant to my thoughts this morning is this; Moving a great deal as a youth and experiencing different cultures had its advantages and disadvantages just like anything else. I can’t help but believe that one of the advantages of that upbringing is that it helped to create within me a certain adaptability to new experiences and environments. With that came a tolerance for accepting and indeed, appreciating differences in humans from different countries, cultures and belief systems, whether abroad or here within our own country. Exposure and environment definitely has an impact on how we evolve both over the short and long term. 🙂
Any thoughts on this…I’d love to hear ’em! Thanks for following my adventures! ~ Susan