Farewell Galapagos

Returning to Santa Cruz from slightly remote Isabela Island felt strangely familiar – a bit like we were coming ‘home’. It was similar to the feeling I had back in 1990-92 when returning from travel in South East Asia to my home in Kyoto and Nishinomiya, Japan, where I could read the signs and easily navigate the trains. It made me think about where home is for us now. We’ve officially unregistered from Berlin, and the last time we lived in the US was four years ago. So, in a way, the address I entered somewhat tongue-in-cheek in my new Leuchturm journal was accurate: “The World” .

And where will home be in the future? We both love Berlin and the friends we’ve made there, and I think the international schools there are terrific. Germany is also on the side of the angels in its approach to the Syrian refugee crisis. Raw documentary footage I’ve seen of Syrian children who’ve lost parents in the war is shattering – their need for help far outweighs our perceived need to keep ‘others’ out.

But Elise and I have also talked about spending a year in Paris. Or maybe we’ve yet to discover our future home? a village in New Zealand or in Vietnam? or perhaps a palm-fringed harbor in the South Pacific? I have a running joke with my niece, Rach (who happens to be both gorgeous and fiercely intelligent). Any time I come up with an idea such as ‘move to Germany’ or ‘travel the world for a year’, she announces that she doesn’t believe that it’ll happen. Even after we’d moved to Berlin, and I asked “Do you believe me now?”, she wrote: “Nope”. Oh the joy of looking forward to many more exotic locations and Nopes from Rach!

In any case, back on Santa Cruz, we fell into ‘old’ habits – we had breakfast at our favorite cafe, popped into the same shops, had an $8 lobster lunch at our favorite restaurant, took a water taxi to a beach we’d visited before and then explored a nearby salt marsh (Elise’s science lesson for the day).

We followed the trail through Opuntia cacti to Las Grietas, a swimming nook in a deep rock crevice. Fearless locals are known to climb the nearly vertical rock walls to plunge into the water below. During our visit, however, we saw only normal folks who were yelping at the chilly water and slipping on the rocks at ground level. My camera gave me a welcome excuse to stay on the platform, but Elise carefully made her way over the rocks and was rewarded with an invigorating swim.

For dinner, we returned to our favorite restaurant for the last time. Our waiter recognized us immediately and, smiling from ear to ear, offered us a great deal on a soup and grilled fish dinner.

The Galapagos are a very special place, and one day I hope we’ll return to explore Floreana and the other smaller islands.