31 Mar

Galapagos Day 2

Last night, when we went out for some extra food after our insufficient dinner, we saw this solitary gringo sit down and order some food. We couldn’t hear him. I think he was wearing his sunglasses throughout the meal, but my memory may be altering the story a bit. He ordered a sprite and whipped out some cigarettes and started smoking. He whistled for the waiter. Everything about him said, “I’m very comfortable with my performance in this alien culture.” I was turned off. My impression was that he was a gringo overly confident in his abilities to master the latino culture. He was young, good-looking, and with his sunglasses and –I don’t know – the way he held his mouth, he gave the impression that he thought he was really cool.

Then today, we divided up into two groups and took a bus to the north of Santa Cruz (the island we’re staying on). There, we got on a yacht called the Santa Fe II and motored to North Seymour Island. North Seymour is a small island – 2 km in diameter, I think. We took a “nature hike” in which we had to stay on the trail, and we saw lots of iguanas, blue-footed boobies, frigates (a bird), and sea lions. It’s amazing how close you can get to the animals.

As it turns out, the cocky gringo from last night was on the tour with us. I was really hoping my Spanish was better than his, but when I finally heard him speak (after an hour of his self-assured silence from behind his Swiss-army brand sunglasses), his Spanish put mine to shame. I wondered what experiences he had had to be able to speak such fluent Spanish. I felt like I had lost.

And then I caught myself. Here I was, despising this gringo dude because he thought he was better, and yet I was fiercely competing to be better than him, albeit internally and silently.

31 Mar

Galapagos Day 2 Misc.

What else? At North Seymour, we went for a swim before eating lunch on the boat. Will and I tried some snorkeling again, but we didn’t see much. The water was deeper, which altered the previous day’s comfort with the ocean. The deep water was once again intimidating. And to top it off, as soon as we got out of the water, not 30 seconds later, we saw a large shark swimming in the water, practically doing laps around the boat. Freaky!

We began talking with one of the chaperones of the children, Veronica. She lives in Miami, and has been in the US for the past 17 years. She grew up in Guayaquil and Quito, and when she was 17, she went on a trip to the Galapagos with her graduating class. A friend of hers from that trip called her up and invited her to come on this trip. So, since she only had to pay $500, which included everything, she came.

The cocky gringo turned out to be South American. He grew up in Chile and Ecuador, so that explains the Spanish. Unfortunately, his English was pretty good, too. He wasn’t such a bad guy. Veronica ended up making plans to meet up with him in town later that night, and she invited us, too. But we couldn’t find the bar, so we went home. As it turns out, Veronica was stuck with the kids until midnight, watching them ride go-karts all night, so she never met up with him either. Poor guy.