Adventures in the Galapagos aboard a new Silver Galapagos

Silversea’s Silver Galapagos, as seen off Bahia Elizabeth at sunset. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

“The pageant of nature: sometimes it seems like a freak show.”

David Quammen, The Flight of the Iguana
Today is Day 4 of my voyage to the Galapagos Islands aboard Silversea’s Silver Galapagos , and I’ve officially run out of superlatives to describe the experience. I thought perhaps a glass of South American Merlot would sharpen my creativity, but so far, no luck. I’m still stuck on words like “awesome”, “inspiring”, “grandeur”, and the like.

Silver Galapagos off anchor at Taleta Targus. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Silver Galapagos at anchor off Caleta Tagus. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Galapagos is like Antarctica, but with far more biodiversity. Both places are remote, sparsely inhabited, and largely left to their own devices. The Galapagos, however, is like nature’s untethered playground – and the most surprising thing is that it’s not at all what you expect. It’s better.
It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that nature doesn’t function the way Walt Disney’s nature functions. Crabs don’t spontaneously break into catchy musical numbers (under the sea!), colourful fish aren’t on a quest to find friends, and even the lowly cricket doesn’t don a stovepipe hat, grab his walking stick, and head off to its Victorian-era workplace. In short, Jiminy Cricket’s a crock.

Here at Caleta Tagus, man has made his presence known. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Here at Caleta Tagus, man has made his presence known. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Instead, nature – real nature – functions a lot more like the movie Aliens (or Alien, if you prefer). Real nature is frightening as all hell, cute seals notwithstanding. Like the title character in the movie, with its horrifying birth process, acid-like blood, and razor-sharp teeth, nature is raw and unabashedly naked in its three chief ambitions: survive, reproduce, repeat.
Of course, real nature has all the fun, gory details they don’t tell you in school. It’s difficult to tell children about the downright kinky, hedonistic mating rituals utilized by many mammals, or ones that practice cannibalism or eat their young or simply leave it them to die. Even the most mundane creature can be more interesting and exotic than you’d think: I just learned that Charles Darwin was so fascinated by the common earthworm that he wrote an entire tome dedicated to the subject. Try telling your friends that nowadays and see how long they stick around.

Morning Sunrise over a cliff face. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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