Galapagos, The Enchanted Islands
The Galapagos Islands are one of the most awe-inspiring places I have ever visited, bearing in mind that my career has taken me all over the world.
When we travel to wild and virgin natural places we tend to have the feeling that we have landed on another planet. I had that feeling on the Galapagos Islands, and it makes me think: what a shame. We don’t recognise our own planet in its purest version because we are used to seeing and living with what we have done to it. We are like a self-destructive plague.
The respect for nature that can be felt in the Galapagos is remarkable. The islands are a national park and a Natural Heritage Site for Humanity, and consequently, visits to the island, and sea traffic, are very restricted and visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. The warning you receive upon arrival is very clear: the tourist’s experience is as an observer (or an admirer, I would say). You cannot touch any of the animals and you must keep a minimum distance of 2 metres from them so as not to alter their ecosystem.
Each island is a volcano that rose out of the sea bed and appeared on the surface. Originally they were layers of lava without any fauna or flora, but over thousands of years, and as a result of natural causes such as floods, storms and seismic movements with landslides that caused plant and animal life to be swept into the ocean, as well as what humans brought, different forms of life arrived on this archipelago from the continent. All the species that arrived as a result of natural causes had to adapt to a hostile environment in order to survive.
This is what makes this place such a unique ecosystem and an ideal place to study the evolution of species. Darwin was the first to undertake this research. It is incredible that there are more reptiles there than mammals, when usually it is the opposite, or to see endemic species such as black iguana that learned to swim to look for food and ended up feeding on seaweed, which was the only source of food they found when they arrived.
These sea lions originally came from California. When they adapted to life on the Galapagos, they ended up being smaller and genetically different from the continental ones.
The two islands that stole my heart were Isla Santiago and Isla Bartolomé. Walking on the layer of lava on Isla Santiago was a truly amazing experience. The landscape is the most beautiful abstract art piece I have ever seen and I was lucky enough to witness how on this young island life is beginning to emerge in the form of tiny green shoots between the cracks in the lava.
Although my senses were running high, not being able to move freely around the islands meant that I left with the feeling of not having got the most out of the experience. I also often found myself in the dilemma of wanting to immortalise the landscapes and the moment or forgetting about the camera and simply observing and feeling. I hope to return to the Galapagos with my daughters when they are a bit older, to enjoy such a marvellous experience as a family and spend a bit more time there.
I would like to finish with a reflection that I brought with me from this trip and which, although weeks have already passed, remains very vivid for me:
I have returned to my city, a mass of concrete and pollution, with a huge sense of loss, and I realise that I observed those Pacific landscapes as something extraordinary. Imagine if we still preserved 80% of the planet as it was in its origins. We would be so different…
Observing the beauty and graciousness of nature leaves you speechless and all you can do is connect with your natural instinct that flourishes without having to seek it out because it is so obvious that you are part of it. We have so much to learn from nature…or perhaps all it takes is us reconnecting with it.
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Connecting with nature