Galapagos Day 1: How to Play Chicken with a Sea Lion

Foreign Service LifeSouth AmericaTravel
December 18, 2012

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At last, our long-awaited trip to Galapagos is here.  The expectations were sky-high and damn if they didn’t blow us away on the very first trip to shore.  No honestly, if they sent me home after our first two hour excursion I would have felt like I got my money’s worth.  It was just that incredible.

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Here’s what we experienced: We disembarked from the cruise ship around 9 AM.  We all loaded into Zodiac boats that hold 16 people (shown above) to take us to the beach.  As we were heading toward shore, you could see these dark blobs littered across the shoreline.  It wasn’t until we were much closer that I realized they were packs of sea lions, not boulders!

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We step onto shore amidst clumps of these beautiful animals just lazing in the sun.  They were totally and completely unfazed by us – in fact, I don’t even think they bothered opening their eyes to see what the commotion was about.  We were not allowed to touch any of the animals, but could get within 6-8 feet of them.  I have never experienced anything like it.  We continued to walk down the beach observing the sea lions, but little did I know what awaited me in the water just an hour later!

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After the shore walk we were given the option of snorkeling out to a nearby island to see some marine life.  Nick and I had honed our snorkeling skills in the Philippines, so we blasted into the water, eager to beat our boat-mates and have a little alone time with the animals.

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Talk about awesome.  We hadn’t been in the water 15 minutes and we’d already seen vibrantly-colored fish, sting rays, sea turtles and sea lions.  I am a huge fan of swimming with sea turtles from visits to Hawaii, but the thing that took my breath away this time was the sea lions.

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First of all, they were 100% fearless in the water as well and infinitely more playful.  It’s amazing how they can go from such awkward movement on shore to this graceful fluidity in the water.  And damn were they fast!

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We ended up getting a good 5 minute stretch of time alone to play with this sea lion.  He insisted on playing a water-based version of “chicken” with me, swimming full force directly at my face and then making a sharp turn straight down when he was within a foot from me.  It was totally freaky and completely exhilarating all at the same time.  He must have enjoyed it too because he repeated this exercise no less than 10 times.  It was nuts!

He also followed along with us swimming for a bit.  I was shocked at how close he’d come to us.  Usually I was the one trying to get a bit of distance.  UH-MAZE-ING.

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I have a bijillion pictures and many more posts to write.  Suffice to say, we have become used to seeing something grandiose on every outing.  It reminds me a lot of New Zealand where the scenery was so magnificent that you started to become desensitized to the beauty.  It’s the same thing here, except it’s the animals instead of the landscape.  I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s NOT NORMAL to have an exotic animal several feet from me in a wild setting.  Stay tuned folks, more awesomeness to come.

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PS – Internet is a bijillion dollars a minute too and we have a grand total of 60 minutes for the week (most of which we need to spend checking on Nia).  I’m pre-writing posts and am going to publish as many as I can, but we won’t be doing any Facebook or email.  We’ll get back up on communications as soon as we can after Christmas!

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  1. Chris says:

    Awesome. I think vacas with nature are so stimulating. And I think if nature is something you appreciate you should get out there and see it sooner rather than later. I am putting this trip at the top of my bucket list! Look forward to more updates and your outstanding photos. Keep having fun. Xoxo, Chris

  2. Teresa says:

    Wow! What an amazing experience you two are having! So happy for you!

  3. Nomads By Nature says:

    AMAZING!! Can’t wait to hear more of your adventures!

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