Like travel addicts everywhere, we’re getting pretty antsy.

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At the giant tortoise breeding center on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

After almost FIVE MONTHS of quarantine here in Colombia, it’s clear that we’re not leaving the country anytime soon. Even when international air travel starts to resume here, who knows when we — as U.S. passport holders — will be allowed to enter other countries or even return home to Colombia.

It’s easy to get whiny and impatient about our current situation. When that happens, we remind each other just how lucky we are:

  • This too shall pass. In the meantime, we are so grateful for a safe and comfortable home and plenty to eat. So many others are not so fortunate.
  • We get to explore more of the amazing country we are blessed to call home, once we have greater freedom of movement. And we’re optimistic that will be happening soon.
  • We have been been able to take some fantastic trips in recent years. Trips that have ticked off several bucket list items for each of us, to places we’ve dreamed about since childhood.

In honor of that last point, we’re kicking off a new series with Our Best of the Galapagos Islands.

Since we can’t make new memories at the moment, we’re going to share some highlights of our most memorable trips from the past. These will be mostly photo essays, since we’ve already blogged extensively about each highlighted trip. For this first installment, we’ll focus on our 2017 voyage in Ecuador’s unforgettable Galapagos Islands. Here’s a directory of our detailed Galapagos posts.

The Feathered Ones

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A proud Blue-footed Booby
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A pair of Oystercatchers
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Two inquisitive Galapagos mockingbirds. The birds’ boldness was astounding – they would come right up to us in hopes of water (which we were not allowed to give them).
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A couple of Nazca boobies at the Isla Espanola blow hole
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A rare Galapagos penguin
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Frigate birds in sunset flight

The Scaly Ones

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More giant tortoises on Isla San Cristobal
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This giant tortoise is an old soul.
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We were surrounded by green sea turtles on one of our snorkel trips. Enchanting!
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A marine iguana gets some sun time. They get their coloring from the algae they eat.
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A marine iguana pile-up with a Sally Lightfoot topper

The Furry Ones

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A sea lion family catches some ZZZs together on the beach
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This young fella came right up to us
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Togetherness
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Another island, another sea lion family

A Few More Galapagos Snaps

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One of my favorites: the ubiquitous Sally Lightfoot crab. They were everywhere!
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Scores of Sally Lightfoots at the Isla Española blow hole
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Stunning Kicker Rock at sunset.

***

We hope you have enjoyed our photographic journey through the Galapagos Islands. We were absolutely gobsmacked by the incredible (and very fragile) natural beauty of this place and the diversity of its wildlife. Since many of the species have no natural predators in this very isolated island chain, the birds and other animals showed absolutely no fear of humans — and that makes us fear for them. At the time of our visit, tourism was booming and the Ecuadorean government was struggling to balance economic interests with ongoing protection for the endangered Galapagos ecosystem. Let’s hope the pandemic has given the islands a chance to pause and recover, and the government an opportunity to refocus its priorities on conservation.

Here’s a great site with plenty more information about this special place, one of the most unique in the world.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Our Best of Cuba!

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55 Comments

  1. Wow, just, wow! What an incredible adventure! Such amazing creatures and I can’t believe how friendly they were to you. It’s one place I have always wanted to go, but, like you, have been afraid of the tourist footprint on such an amazing place. A good thing about this epidemic is the break it is giving to nature and the environment. It’s also why I like travel blogs so much with people like you who take great photos and share their experiences. Maybe we all don’t have to go to every destination. Thanks for sharing such a special experience. And I hope you get out of quarantine soon. I think it’s extra difficult on people stricken with the wanderlust gene.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Cindy! We’re confident we’ll get out of “COVID jail” soon. The tourist footprint is actually something that’s pretty tightly controlled in the Galapagos, although they could do better. We were with an authorized tour group that really took a lot of pains to make sure everyone followed the rules and “left a clean wake.” We hope things are going well for you and your family in Croatia – last time I checked it looked COVID was pretty well under control there?

      • Unfortunately Croatia let its guard down so it could have a tourist season and the cases are starting to go up exponentially here. We may be going into Covid jail as you get released, although Istria is still fairly free of the virus. It’s nice to hear that the Galapagos authorities are being so careful as I think it is such a special destination. I do have secret dreams of visiting there at some point…

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          Sorry to hear that about Croatia. It’s funny how our opinion has evolved lately – we’re now thinking that countries have to start trying to resume some semblance of normal given the fact that COVID is not going away soon. Nothing will be normal until a vaccine, of course. It all depends on healthcare’s ability to cope. Glad you’re in a place that’s relatively virus-free. Stay safe!

  2. What gorgeous photos…I found myself smiling the entire time. My husband and I lived in Ecuador as Residents from 2005 through 2008 and loved it there. Thank you for sharing these lovely photos…a testament to why we and so many others get so much joy in traveling the world.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Jofannie! I do recall you lived in Ecuador – did you get to visit the Galapagos? Hope you both are doing well and your relocation plans are proceeding 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much! Arm chair travel will have to do for now, but it’s fun reliving past travels 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much – same to you!

  3. Charles Hendrickson Reply

    Love that you two are doing this! Glad you posted on LinkedIn!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Charles! So good to hear from you. Hope you’re doing well. Are you still in the PDX area?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much for visiting, Natalie!

  4. All I can say is ‘Wow!’. What great photos! What a fantastic trip that must have been. Tuck it away in your memory and never forget it.
    Yes, we ARE lucky to have a place to live and enough to eat. I share that gratitude. We WILL see this through.
    Be patient and stay well and enjoy each day.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you!! And very wise advice. Stopping to be grateful is one thing that has gotten us through this time. Hope you and yours are well!

  5. Fantastic shots and experiences. We LOVED the Galápagos Islands as well. The wildlife is second to none. We didn’t do many tours (too expensive), but we managed to “live” two months there, along three different islands, on our own sailboat. We figured being in the midst of penguins, sea lions, and blue footed boobies gave us a head start. 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Wow – to cruise the Galapagos for two months on a sailboat would be a dream. We have some friends who stopped over there on their boat, on the way to the Marquesas. They told us that there were a lot of restrictions on visiting yachts. Did you encounter that?

      • We stopped in the Galápagos in March – May 2013, on the way to the Gambier Islands. Back then, it cost us about $1,000 and we were allowed to stop at three islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela). $800 allowed you three weeks in one of those places. This was the second option for a stop. You were not allowed to go elsewhere by private boat, but you could walk on the islands and snorkel in certain places. Less restrictions back then in comparison to now, I’m sure.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It was amazing how varied the colors of the iguanas were. Some were pretty drab, and others were as vivid as the one in the picture. In general, the Galapagos is a really colorful world! Thanks for your comment.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Mel! There’s a lot to look forward to, indeed 🙂

  6. What a great idea to share your travel memories, rather than focussing on the travel that currently cannot be. Your photos here are absolutely stunning. The vivid colours almost reach out of the screen and make me feel like I am right there!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Donna! We’re so grateful for our memories – they’re getting us through this crazy time. Have an excellent day!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome – have a wonderful day!

  7. Just the other day I read about the discovery of some new species on and around the Galápagos Islands. Such a special place, so beautiful yet so fragile.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      I think I saw that article too – now you’ve made me want to go Google it. The Galapagos is one of those paradoxical places where you think, if only everyone had a chance to see this, more people would work harder to protect the planet. But it is very, very limited to visitors, which I think is a better thing. Hope you and yours are well, Bama!

  8. What a positive way to refocus your mind, instead of focusing on the pandemic and what you cannot do, focus on the things you do have and the blessings you’ve had. I love your pictures of Galapagos, I would love to travel there one day, thank you for sharing your pictures!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you for the comment, Liz, and also for the link back to our post 🙂 We hope you get to see the Galapagos someday. Cheers!

  9. I’m with you! When I find myself getting whiny, I remind myself of all the great places I’ve seen (and still get to see in my own province). Galapagos holds a special spot in my heart (was there in 1987) and you brought back wonderful memories with your beautiful photos.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Caroline! Hope you have a great day.

  10. The oystercatchers are stunning and the beach where the seals are sleeping looks idyllic! What a great photo essay! We haven’t been to Galapagos, but maybe we should try to go soon when travel resumes but before the masses return. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Kelly! Hope you get to see the Galapagos soon. We did some other traveling in Ecuador on the same trip and really loved the country. Hoping to get back there and see more one of these days, since it’s our Colombian neighbor. Hope you have a great day!

  11. Fabulous photos. Looks like a wonderful cruise to one of the worlds most incredible places. You are right about then wildlife being so tame, I know it’s a big worry. Hopefully the covid situation has helped the islands return to a quieter more natural existence this year.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Jonno! That is a big worry for so many of the world’s wild places. It’s such a quandary – should more people be allowed to see them and hopefully develop a greater appreciation for protecting the planet? Or should the places be restricted as much as possible for their own protection? I guess that’s a silver lining for COVID – it’s given over-traveled places a chance to take a breath. Hope you and yours are well there in beautiful England!

  12. John and Susan, I have longed to visit the Galapagos for many years, we came close to visiting when we traveled in Peru in 2018, but family commitments made for a change of plans. This post really has put a smile on my face, so many gorgeous photos, loved the Blue-footed Booby and the sea lions are just so gorgeous.
    I hope you will be able to resume your travels in the very near future, but in the mean time it is nice to post some old memories and reviews.
    Here in the UK we have low infection numbers in our area, but there are some areas that have gone back into lockdown. We are planning a trip to Italy with our motorhome in September, but things might change with the increasing number of infections there. We will keep monitoring the situation. Keep well guys 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Gilda! A motorhome trip to Italy sounds fantastic – hope you get to follow through. We’ve done some RV-ing in the U.S. and really love that travel method. Stay well!

  13. This brought back some great memories! Like you our Galapagos cruise was one fo the highlights of our travels. Fabulous photos!
    Alison

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Alison. You are such a fine photographer – I’ll bet you took some spectacular Galapagos photos. I’ll have to go check your blog 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Cindy – thanks for visiting!

  14. Wonderful images John and Susan. Like you I hope travel restrictions ease soon but am grateful that we’ve had so many wonderful travels and have such fond memories

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for your visit and comment! Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that we’re able to take a break and enjoy our memories 🙂

  15. Marvelous photos, Susan and John. Thanks for taking me there – a place I would love to visit someday!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much for visiting, Jane!

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          We have been working with WordPress on that – they took away the little “follow” button and I’ve been trying to get it back on. Stay tuned!

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          OK, I think the button’s back now. Give it a whirl – thanks for following!

  16. John and Susan, these pictures are astounding, and the story that goes with just as amazing. The blue footed Booby grabbed my attention right off, and I loved the mockingbird’s expressions. I know someone like that. 🙂 Thanks for sharing these “best of” series as a way to beat the COVID blues. Like one of your other readers, we are in COVID prison, but are hoping for a release sometime before the end of our lifetimes. Thanks for following my blog. I look forward to getting better acquainted. 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Marsha – welcome to our blog and thank you for your comment! Let’s all hope we get out of COVID prison soon and can start making some new memories. Your blog is awesome, BTW! Cheers, John and Susan

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