As the title of this post accurately says, in visiting Galapagos we visited a hole in the jungle. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I've generally described Galapagos as being dry, scrubby, and volcanic. However, on certain islands (such as San Cristobal and Santa Cruz), there was a much more lush environment. Taking a short hike down a pot-holed road, we were soon surrounded by misty, bright green jungle. After a few minutes of walking, we emerged from the lush vegetation on the side of a huge...well...hole.
I'm sure there's a better geological description of it, but that's what it was. A huge, mile wide hole gouged deep into the jungle. A small waterfall trickled down the side, and weak tendrils of fog floated in the morning air. Peering as far as I dared over the side, I could hardly see the bottom. It was breathtaking.
"What do you call it?" I asked the naturalist.
He shrugged, scratching his beard. "Well, the fancier name for it is ---, but we mostly just nickname it the 'jungle hole'.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this 'jungle hole', but I do have an image of the more lush side of Galapagos.
After getting back from our jungle hike, we meandered through the local shops, looking at the colorful wares and artwork. Quick note of advice on shopping at Santa Cruz: make sure to check out more than one shop. If you see something awesome, but expensive, at one store, odds are the little shop next to it will have the same ware, but much cheaper.
We picked up a few t-shirts and wooden carvings, and then headed back to the wharf, soaking up the sea (and trying to not disturb the seals napping on the benches). Then, before we knew it, we were climbing back into the zodiacs and saying good-bye to Galapagos.
Even weeks after I arrived back home, I was homesick for this little group of islands. It might sound a little crazy-- how can you be homesick for a place that isn't yours? But I missed Galapagos with an ache. I missed the cold, turquoise ocean and the playful seals. The explosive purple sunsets, the gentle sea breeze. Even the jellyfish. Okay, maybe not quite to that extreme, but I did miss it. It was then that it sunk in to me how amazing this archipelago was, and how much it needed to be protected.
Unfortunately, Galapagos is facing a lot of threats, from the intrusion of humans, global warming, to even having the safety of its animals compromised. A lot of the naturalists are quitting because the cruise ships aren't paying them enough. Thankfully, people are starting to band together in keeping these islands pristine.
Galapagos is an amazing place. Even now, I still miss. I'm sure that if you visit it, you'll fall in love too, whether you're admiring its holes, or just appreciating the beauty of the surroundings. It's a place to be protected, and a place to be loved. Whether you're twenty one, or even a hundred and one, once you visit Galapagos, you'll never want to leave.
I know I didn't.