Saturday, April 21, 2018

Two Gentlemen Meet

One frigid evening in the dead of winter of 1970, my dad was tromping around from door to door. Why? He was selling peanuts to raise money for the Kinsmen. (Kinsmen is a men's community service club.) But “frigid” was an understatement. Winter in the Canadian prairies is cold by anyone's standards. Needless to say, underdressing worsens matters.

When Dad knocked on the door of Abe and Elsie Suderman's home, Mr. Suderman greeted him. Being an inquisitive man with a whimsical way of being, Abe noticed my dad's low cut dress shoes, soaked by the snow that stumbled in. So, he asked, "Is that the shoes you're walking around in?"

80_Supers_mboro Two Families, Out on an Excursion
Mary Pachikara, Copyright 1975 (Click for larger image)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Jeff Shushan's Intrepid Guidance

After a number of meetings with Jeff Shushan, a seasoned advisor on relationships in stress, Molly, myself and Jeff had agreed to prepare for a profoundly important milestone: we were going to undergo a trial separation. It was November of 2013.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Day 7 – The Curious Sea Lion Pup

(Day 7 afternoon. San Cristobal, GALAPAGOS!) Alas our last full day! And it’s the afternoon already on San Cristobal. :(

When people are less relevant, you really see how animals act. There's nothing to fear from humans, so as example...

Here's a frame from a GoPro video just before a young, curious sea lion poked my video cam, physically that is, while I sat in a tide pool last week.

image (1)
Taking a Close Look at my GoPro
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

All the animals, be it iguanas, boobies, sea turtles, tortoises or dolphins, simply "got on with their business," walking thru our legs if needed to carry on.

I found it enthralling, thought provoking and deeply inspiring, yet often was wistful to be in the middle of a tiny slice of what "Mother Earth" was like at one time, but won't be again for a long time, [ and what remains is potentially passing away too ] due to us.

If you can, visit these nooks and crannies of our planet. You will be happy you did.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Motoring with the Dolphins

(Day 3, in the evening. Isabela, Galapagos!)

We were out on one of the Zodiac boats - -smallish inflatable craft with outboard motors - - looking at many marine birds off the cliffs of Isabela Island.

Then, the ship radioed our boat's seasoned Ecuadorian skipper, Washington, reporting that a pod of dolphins were moving gleefully further out in the ocean.

Washington gunned the engine, hurtling our vessel out into the ocean and taking up chase... landing us in the middle of perhaps 40 magical creatures.
AbePachikara-006
A Magical, Whimsical Troupe, Cruising the Seas
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Girl’s Fight!

(Day 3, Fernandina Island, mid-morning)

February is right in the middle of the marine iguana breeding season. That requires a nest where the moms can lay their eggs. To my surprise, when it comes to creating nests, iguana seemed to fall into two camps - producers, and takers.

Some of the expectant moms dig shallow nests in the soft sand on Fernandina Island. This is a slow process, as these creatures are by no means designed for excavating the loose sand.

Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0081-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0080-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0079-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0077-ToWeb
Creating a Nest for Junior
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

An Uneasy Existence

(Day 3, Fernandina Island, mid-morning)

As we sauntered around the islands, all the local animals carried on like tourists. Life was nothing but relaxed and easygoing. Eat if you are hungry. Sleep if you are tired. Play if you are happy. Etc, etc., etc…The humans? They mean nothing to these routines.

All the animals, that is, except for one - - the Galapagos Lava Lizard.

In such a country club existence, you cannot help but notice what appears to be the life of a prey. Even to the untrained eye, this creature is nothing, if not nervous.

They cannot and will not enjoy the oblivious living of their peers. A tiny denizen of the islands, they must continuously scan their surroundings.

Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0049-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0050-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0074-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0083-ToWeb
Always on the Lookout
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Mmmm, the Sun Makes Me So Sleepy…

(Day 3, Fernandina Island, Galapagos! )

Another stunning place to visit is Fernandina Island, a lava covered sanctuary for thousands of marine iguana.

The iguanas are EVERYWHERE.

You truly need to look down constantly as you walk, as it is very easy to step on one of these tranquil creatures - - again an example that the denizens of the Galapagos view humans as irrelevant, so no need to run away when two legged sapiens come around.

Sleepy Iguana
Homer Simpson’s Hero, “I'll Get Up... Later”
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Dolphins!

(Day 3, Fernandina Islands, 6:15 am)

Yesterday I woke up early and went out on the top deck of the boat. Two words came to mind: amazing; and serene. I stared in wonder at the scene all around me: islands, water, breezes and early morning sunshine.

I then felt regret. "Abe, why are the boys not out here? What the hell, dude! Who needs sleep when you can have all this?"

So today morning, I dragged them out of bed and up to the top deck. Yet again, it was amazing. For me that is. I wondered what they thought.

Just then, Paul yelled, "Dad, dolphins!"

Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0001-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0008-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0040-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0010-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0036-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0016-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0029-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Ferandina-180219-0020-ToWeb
A Fraction of What We Saw. Dolphins, Everywhere!
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Perhaps More Sleep is Natural?

(Day 2, Seymour & Rabida Islands)

Oh my gosh, one benefit of virtually no predators: when you are sleepy, you just sleep. Perhaps this was the world at one time?

Ecuador-Galapagos-SeymourRabida-180218-0007-ToWeb-2 Ecuador-Galapagos-SeymourRabida-180218-0010-ToWeb
Snoozing in the Mid-Afternoon By, and On, the Rocks

Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Becoming Part of the Village

(Day 1, Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz)

While taking a short hike, we saw the distinctive tracks of a female adult turtle. Large scallops of sand, in a long sequential pattern.

The naturalists were careful that we did not follow these tracks closely.

Ecuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0088-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0085-ToWeb
A Mom’s Laborious Night Time Trek
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

The First of Most Things is Awesome

(Day 1, Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz, Galapagos! ) The start of anything, the very beginning, usually earns more anticipation and enjoyment than it may deserve.

I think that was the case today.

Why? Because it was our first ACTUAL excursion to an island. Now in truth, all we did was head to a very nice beach, take a short walk around and wade around in the refreshing water.

Ecuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0071-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0076-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0103-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0106-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0109-ToWeb
Landing on Las Bachas Beach
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Starting with Safety and the Basics of Life on a Ship

(Day 1, Baltra Island) The crew was impressive in so many ways. The first and foremost - its attention to safety and sharing basic info. Gosh they had so much to impart on us and all of it was done in a congenial, paced manner.

Perhaps the biggest datapoint was when Juan Carlos, the Expedition Leader, said with a twinkle in his eyes, "My friends, please know that we are one big family on the Endeavor, so we do not lock our rooms."

Come again?

Ecuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0054-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0055-ToWeb
Learning About the Ship’s Traditions and Rules
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Finally, We Are on the Boat!

(Day 1, Baltra Island, Galapagos! ) Finally, we are here! ! ! I am about to split in two with the excitement and anticipation of being "on the boat" at last.

By no means do I have complaints: the travel has been so smooth, the length and legs are simply part of any +5,000 mile journey.

Yet again, the Lindblad folks were precise and clear. Leave check-in luggage outside the hotel door by 6:15 am. Breakfast at 6:45. Buses leave at 7:45. Boarding passes handed out at the airport. Then, relax on the 700 mile Avianca flight to Baltra Island, with a piping hot ham and cheese sandwich that puts American's 4 hour flight to shame (are you surprised?).

Ecuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0001-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0004-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0006-ToWeb
Ecuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0009-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0010-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0011-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Baltra-180217-0014-ToWeb
Early Morning Start, to the Airport
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Lindblad = Smooth Operations

(Day 1, Guayaquil Airport) It is Saturday morning, Feb 17. We are waiting to board our flight at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

So far, all is very, very well. Credit goes to the Lindblad Expeditions ground staff.

They certainly are highly coordinated and communicate details well.

Ecuador-Galapagos-Arriving-180216-0050-ToWeb
Getting Us Oriented on the Bus Ride to the Hotel
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Guayaquil, Ecuador

(Day 0, Guayaquil) Leaving Veena and family was made easier due to the anticipation of what lay ahead: a nonstop to Ecuador.

We are one step closer.

The American Airlines flight was fine from an aeronautical sense. The amenities left something to be desired: specifically the supposed in-flight dinner. Remember this is an international flight and yet, it was a cold sandwich, which I hoped was made in the last 24 hours. It's less that I mind as much as I don't know if these once great businesses have lost sight of how diluted their experiences have become.

Shame.

Ecuador-Galapagos-Arriving-180216-0026-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Arriving-180216-0027-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Arriving-180216-0030-ToWebEcuador-Galapagos-Arriving-180216-0031-ToWeb

Heading to GYE
Abraham Pachikara, Copyright 2018 (Click for larger image)

Galapagos Lucky Strike Extra: Seeing Family

(Day 0, Miami)

My Mom's from a family of 7 kids. Dad, a whopping 14. Most of the siblings are now in the US. The upshot? Many of my destinations have the high probability of not just a friend in town, but perhaps a cousin, aunt or uncle. As the eldest grandchild on both sides, I  straddle two generations of two families. What great luck, no?

Visiting family also answers my penchant to “maximize experiences,” as I have a good history with my extended family. That's a blessing I don't appreciate enough.