A Travellerspoint blog

February 2013

L.A. (U.S.A.)

Strange to be back in the U.S., even if just for 8 hours. There are so many machines here. Machines to help you climb, to help you walk. Machines that flush the toilet for you and turn on the perfectly temperature-controlled water. Machines you maneuver to glide you to far away destinations over liquid smooth roads and in an orderly fashion. Machines also wash your dishes and reheat your food. As a consequence, I can walk in a daze and barely have to communicate with anyone I don't already know. I see when strangers do have to talk to each other here the outcome is often unpleasant, ending in frowns or, worse, an altercation. How odd that we choose to live this way.

There's so much room. It's all so clean and quiet. That's strange, too.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (3)

All Kinds Travel

We've left the Galapagos. We're back in the Guayaquil airport, mourning, laughing at ourselves for our genuine and somewhat silly sadness. Taking turns, we creep into the airport bookstore and flip though photo books of the islands, reliving each creature we saw, each place we visited.

On the bus to the Itabaca Channel we met this rather horrible retiree from Florida--a chatty old woman who sprinkled her stories with bitterly pronounced swear words and insults to other travelers, locals, and tourism workers. She seemed to believe every foreign country was founded for the sole purpose of impressing first world travelers, and she was quick to point out their failures. To her, people were either nice or stupid, places enjoyable or full of bullshit. I suspect she might have placed us in the "nice" category because Chris helped her with her bag, after which she seemed to follow us everywhere--onto the ferry, then the airport bus, the airport, the airplane itself (she sat next to us), and even to baggage claim. By the end of the flight her crimson lipstick had, through a network of fine wrinkles, smeared around the corners of her mouth. She told us the Galapagos were a great disappointment to her. She didn't see what all the fuss was about--some birds and turtles but so what? you had similar-looking birds elsewhere, and turtles aren't anything new. Chris and I could only hope, listening to her rail against the stupidity of this and that, that none of the Ecuadorians nearby could understand English. She could be suddenly acerbic to the point that I periodically wondered whether she had Tourettes. I imagined not. There was never an apology afterwards for her spiteful outbursts, though once she rather shamefacedly explained that travel made her extremely tired. She was alone. I didn't bother to ask about a family; she never mentioned any. All kinds of people travel, though some I'd rather not.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Sea Lions

Can't think for all the pain in my ear. It is both dull and loud, drowning out all other sensation and thought. I would not be surprised if someone told me there was a rip in my eardrum, but Chris assures me it's not that serious. Just a common diving problem, etc.

Even at the pier in Puerto Ayora, we can see diving sea lions, puffer fish, sting rays, and even our first black-tipped reef sharks. Also not a few plastic bags and other human debris. The sea lion glanced at us with its wide, cartoon-like eyes. How many sea lions have passed me this way, iris rolled to the back to watch me? The one on the bench is always surrounded by a diffuse cloud of tourists who take turns sharing the bench with him and snapping pictures. Occasionally he will open a wet, sleepy eye, but then the effort is too much, and it slowly closes. We've seen countless sea lions, and yet I'm still tempted to take its photo. But the tourists scare me away.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Life After

Back on land, as of yesterday. The ground has finally ceased its swaying, which means the last vestige of the cruise has left us. We are reluctant to relinquish it as we are still enchanted--by the lava-coated, unforgiving landscape, the sheer richness, quantity, and even curiosity of the marine life, the strangeness of seeing white sand beaches rimmed by prickly pear cactus, the clumsy but endearing boobies.

I hate these moments. These moments of foreknowledge, the sureness that all the gladness and wonder will fade, that our magical 8 days will boil down into a single trite emotion, that my memory will erode so thoroughly that one day I'll question even that boiled down feeling, that all that I predict will happen rather quickly--in a few weeks perhaps--and that there's absolutely nothing in the world I can save from myself.

It was not just the fact of the Galapagos. It was also the peace of being on a sailboat, cutting through the sea, nothing to do for several hours a day besides lazily scanning the waters or dozing in the sun, salty hair whipped into a rough, haphazard nest. I no sooner brought out a book then it slipped from my fingers, replaced by a sweet, forgotten dream.

What's left? Life goes on, reluctantly. Today we walked all around Puerto Ayora, toasted by the equatorial sun. We didn't remember it being this brutal on the water. Nothing is the same--not the sun, not the tortoises and iguanas of the Charles Darwin Research Center, not the immobile land beneath our feet. We reminisce, but less frequently, our moods already turning elsewhere. The enchantment loosens.

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Almost Over

Well, its just about over. The boat is anchored in Puerto Ayora Harbor, and half her crew is gone. Behind closed cabin doors passengers pack or read or sleep. Anther group of people you meet and leave, who fade in and out of your life meaninglessly. It's not that I think we should all be BFFs, but doesn't anything stick anymore? Doesn't anyone want it to?

Posted by chschen 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 35) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 » Next