Galapagos

HEY EVERYONE!! eep i know i havent been on in SUCH a long time but I have been so busy! After I got back from SC camp I had a buttload of homework to do and then I had to pack to go to this boring stupid little place called, I don’t know…the Galapagos?!?

Let me tell you. The Galapagos Islands is (are?) the most amazing place in the whole entire world…or at least what I have seen of the world. The islands are an untouched archipelago just of the coast of Ecuador, which would put them on the same latitude as New Orleans. 

These islands are chock full of sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, red footed boobies, Nazca boobies, albatrosses, sharks, snakes, giant tortoises and much much more. These animals live in the wild yet are the most mild mannered and gentle animals I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Having grown up without the fear of predators, these animals will come up to you and interact and let you get close… as long as you don’t piss them off (I’m sorry sea lion, you were just so cute!). 

I went on this trip with 18 other fellow classmates for ten days. Our days were full of hiking excursions and snorkeling trips and random interesting tidbits of knowledge. In return for conducting field research on these islands and writing a paper on the ecological niche of a selected animal, we will receive class credit from our school and the local community college. Pretty great deal…awesome location, school credit. Sounds pretty easy right?

Wrong.

Let me tell you, this trip was not made for a hearing impaired person to go on it. Water is a main element of this trip..we live on a boat and go on a smaller boat called a panga (through all the sea spray) to reach land and snorkel if not twice, then once a day.

So obviously, I went on the trip. Because all my other issues with my hearing devices just weren’t challenging me enough (not). I promise I am not crazy. I just wasn’t willing to let this opportunity pass me by just because I might have some hurdles to clear throughout the trip. 

So let me tell you how it all worked out.

The boat, obviously, was pretty dry so there was no real difficulty there. The pangas were relatively dry as well, as long as you didn’t mind getting your clothes a little damp or your feet wet. Snorkeling was the demon on this trip. 

I’d originally attempted to keep my cochlear in while snorkeling, because it is supposed to be water resistant for up to 30 min about a 3ft depth. But, as it turns out that was not the case, at least not in salt water. I found that in order for the cochlear to work, the external magnet needed to either be dry or be attached to a dry surface (i.e. my dry scalp). So when the magnet AND my hair got wet, the sound feed started cutting off and then eventually just quit all together. 

So, it was decided for me that I would have to snorkel without any hearing devices. This is more dangerous than you’d think. Without hearing my friends, I might accidentally just drift off into the open sea, riveted by whatever organism I was watching. So my good friend and I decided to hold hands during the excursion. 

We were actually joined by the captain of the boat, which proved to be a big plus, because having spent four years sailing around the Galapagos, he knew all the great places to take us to snorkel. He would dive down (and later taught us to dive) and bring up sea stars to touch and let us swim with sea lions, sharks, and sea turtles. So with one friend holding one hand and the captain holding the other, I experienced some of the best snorkeling in the whole group, regardless of the fact that I was technically disadvantaged. 

This made me think. For one thing, I realized that if I am ever on a cruise ship I MUST MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE CAPTAIN. Besides snorkeling, he let us drive the boat, and it was me myself and I who drove the Coral II yacht THREE TIMES across the equator! (my bucket list has been shortened dramatically). There are many great perks to having the most influential guy on the boat as your go to supporter. 

On a more hearing impaired note (no pun intended), my great experience really showed me that once again, if I set my mind to it, nothing is impossible. My hearing impairment is not a shortcoming at all. Most people would just not go on this trip, but I, despite all the extra hassle it caused at first (getting the snorkeling gear to work with my cochlear, then not being able to use to cochlear when I snorkeled) turned it around and made this trip a sparkling gem in the treasure chest that holds my memories. 

I faced my problems and sailed full steam ahead into them without even thinking about turning port or starboard, because  what scared me more than wrecking my cochlear (sorry mom) was missing the opportunity. As it turned out, I have been told that I was one of the happiest people on the boat…I don’t remember a single moment I wasn’t laughing, smiling or in awe of the majestic beauty the Galapagos has to offer. I don’t think I’ll ever experience a trip like this again and I definitely will never forget this trip. 

Life is a journey and you’re bound to get sea sick here and there, but you WILL get your sea legs (I know fully understand why Captain Jack Sparrow walks the way he does. There is a such thing as being landsick!)  Before you know it, you will be driving the boat!

Bon Voyage,

Admiral Shayna 

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