Friday, March 23, 2007

Galapagos day 12.5; cruise day 7.5 – end of the trip

When local tour boats advertise 8 day cruises, they count every day you actually set foot on the boat. However, since they usually begin in late morning and end in early morning, it’s really 7 days counting one day as 24 hours.

Our last little outing was a 6 a.m. dinghy ride in Turtle Bay. At that time, the water was clear and still, the sky soft with the colors of early morning. We moved through the dense greenery of mangroves under the low hum of the motor. When the driver turned the motor off, it became so peaceful. We heard only the flapping fish, the buzz of mosquitoes, the swish of the paddles and the tweets of male yellow warblers making territorial calls. We looked out at the misty hills of Santa Cruz Island and watched the sun rise bright yellow-orange in a pink sky.

We watched giant groups of golden stingrays pass by us, their fins sticking up out of the water, appearing like an evil army on its way to attack. Several sea tortoises swam by, including a male with a very long tail. We found baby black tip sharks feeding on mullets. We watched mullets and white salemas jumping out of the water as though in synch with a symphony. We watched a brown noddy following a pelican, trying to catch its food.

The environment around us looked so peaceful, but when we looked closer, everything was struggling and fighting for survival. The mullets jumped so as not to be caught and eaten by the sharks. The pelican risked losing the food it fought hard to catch to the brown noddy.

I realized, as much as we’d like to create an idea and an ideal of human goodness, that we live in the same kind of world, where we fight for resources, for influences and for safety. Some are lucky to live out their lives in a cocoon, without feeling the effects of this fight. But for the majority who come into contact with violence, injustice, and fear, it seemed to me that there is a lesson to be learned from the animals. That while one can hate predators and thieves, happiness will not live in fear, bitterness and regret. Rather, like the animals, the faster one can accept the loss as a natural part of existence and move ahead with the same verve as before, the quicker they can find peace.

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