Weird flora from one of the other-worldly landscapes of the Galapagos Islands, June 2006
The Galapagos Islands, June 2006: our honeymoon. As you can see, I’m not particularly good at smiling on cue for the camera; I much prefer to be on the other side!
The Californian sea-lions there are incredibly ‘tame’. Due to the islands’ isolation they’ve never known Man as a predator & so are quite unafraid of us, & let you get very close.
Swimming with the pups, like playful little aquatic dogs, is 1 of the greatest experiences of my life. They would swim underneath me upside-down (I managed to do it back to 1 of them – haha!), nip at your flippers, zoom towards your face at high speed then turn away at the very last second – fantastic!
Although if a bull decides you’ve been spending too much time with his kids he’ll charge, & 1 of them did. I found out how quickly I could snorkel then run through water when I needed to!
If you ever get the chance to go you should: it’s a really special place.
- Cruising the Galapagos – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (travelpod.com)
- Week 1, Galapagos Experience – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (travelpod.com)
- Finally finding the sharks… and lots of them – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Ecuador (travelpod.com)
Last week’s subject for Tara Cain’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers, the first of the year, was ‘Body Parts’. A lot of people seemed nervous about it, for obvious reasons, & many also seemed to find it a difficult one to find a photo & a story for. We seemed to manage ‘though: it was a cracking start to the year! And not even (too) pervy…
To be honest I had more trouble trying to think of something for this week’s theme ““. I mean, there are only so many body parts, right? And Mother Nature is, like, really big (man), I mean it’s kinda like: Everything. Choosing a single photo for it seemed to me to be really daunting.
I’m possibly being a little pedantic; it wouldn’t be the first time. To me “Mother Nature” is quite different to “Nature”, so a pretty picture of some trees or a sunset for me just wasn’t enough. Mother Nature, to me, is conceptual, & not just about the physical world we live in. It’s about our relationship to that physical world around us, exploring the idea that we dont just live in ‘Nature’ but that we are a part of it, that it gave birth to us, that we are its – her – children. It’s about who we are, where we come from, the nature of our existence: the Big Questions of Life; indeed about Life itself.
Then maybe I’m just reading WAY too much into this. I’m already feeling another existential crisis coming on…
Then I realised as I was writing this post on my Dad Blog “Whiskey For Aftershave”: I have it. The perfect picture for my take on the theme.
Unfortunately it was on print film & I couldn’t find it! Thankfully though after some rummaging in what is currently the storage room & a quick trip to Boots I now have it, along with some of my favourite ever photos, in glowing digital form.
I’d become separated from the rest of the group & was rushing to catch up. As I did so it occurred to me that I was passing through 1 of the most beautiful, magical places I’d ever seen. So I stopped being an idiot, slowed down, & enjoyed it. It’s called the Cloud Forest: an area of dense vegetation where the plants & trees are so high up in the Andes mountains that they’re literally watered by the clouds themselves.
As I came out I caught up with our main guide, who told me about the subject of the photo & this post.
So here she is: PachaMama
The locals come here to commune with the mountain, standing on the outside of the track just by where the guide is in the photo below.
He’d just told me about the mountain & about PachaMama & about he & his peoples’ veneration of her. He’s walking off to give me the chance to take up his suggestion to spend time alone there in ‘her’ presence, communing with her, with PachaMama, with Mother Nature.
After he left I did so. And it was a big deal for me. I’m not religious; I try to live a rational life, being guided by knowledge & rational thought rather than superstition. So this went against the grain. Not only that, but I’m afraid of heights. Standing on the edge of the track, a vast sheer drop below, arms stretched outwards, eyes closed – I had to muster a fair bit of courage for that.
But it was one of those things I felt that while there I had to do. It’s likely I’ll never get the chance again.
And the place is just magical; it draws you in. The vastness, the stillness, the silence, the sense of timelessness, the rarified atmosphere, the awareness that you are standing on the roof the world, the realisation that millions of lives have come & gone but PachaMama is just there, & has been for thousands, maybe millions of years: PachaMama does seem to have a Presence.
I stood there, I don’t know for how long, & communed with PachaMama, with Mother Nature. Feeling at once as small as the smallest speck & yet part of the vastness of all that is. I felt alone in the Universe, & yet that I was the Universe. Impossible to explain!
I don’t really know what happened there. In purely superficial terms, probably nothing. I do know that it was one of the most amazing, most profound experiences of my life, & that I walked on a changed, hopefully a better, man.
Why not have at look at all the other interpretations of ‘Mother Nature’ in this week’s Gallery: it never fails to disappoint.
- 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Me, But Were Afraid To Ask (whiskeyforaftershave.wordpress.com)
We are not an ordinary couple, thankfully. So when we married, for our honeymoon did we go somewhere quiet, warm & relaxing on a beach in a hotel with a swimming pool? Hell no – far too easy! Why do that when you can cruise around the Galapagos Islands, spend a night in Lake Titicaca, climb the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu, then stay in the Amazon Jungle? I got mugged & had my wallet & passport stolen in Cuzco, had a nightmare getting a temporary passport from the bureaucrats in Lima, nearly missing my flight back, got very sick from the cold & the altitude in Titicaca such that I thought I’d have to pull out of the Inca Trail climb – but I wouldn’t change it for anything else! Absolutely loved it!