Galapagos: A Land Without Time
“Please don’t change your watches,” said our expedition leader Giancarlo Toti, as we stood around the baggage claim at the steamy San Cristobal airport in Ecuador. “While we are in the Galapagos, we are going to stay on mainland time.”
I contemplated the rationale of such a request. “Not change our watches?” You can’t just pretend it is a different time than it really is. Agreeing on what time it
Ninety-seven percent of the Galapagos Islands is preserved as a national park with no human inhabitants. During the next week, our main companions on the islands would be iguanas, frigatebirds, giant tortoises
Our first morning, we experienced a very practical reason for staying on mainland Ecuador time. Our wake-up call was at a
“What time is it?” “Who cares!” We existed in a world unbound by time.
Yet, I thought about time a lot during my Galapagos nature adventure. Geologic time plays a huge role in
“Instead of 7 million years old, think seven years,” he said. “Humans have only been on the planet for four hours.”
The Galapagos is one of the few places on the planet that does not have an indigenous population, and the first explorers did not arrive until the mid-16th century. So in our new scale of thinking that was about five minutes ago. So many of the endemic wildlife of the Galapagos and the natural wonders we were experiencing had nothing to do with human influence.
To me, one of the great pleasures of traveling is having an excuse to be disconnected. I want it to be inconvenient to use the Internet and not be bothered by my ceaselessly buzzing phone. It is such a great opportunity to look around and pay close attention to the moment. But my small-group Galapagos tour exceeded even that expectation.
As I reflect upon the trip—swimming with sea lions, walking among giant tortoises, paddle-boarding in Darwin Bay, hiking above Tagus Cove, gazing at the Milky Way in a night sky filled with millions of stars—in my mind, there is no beginning and end. On our Galapagos Islands adventure, I reached a point of living outside the bounds of time.
All photos © Anne Avellana
Classic Galapagos: The Natural Habitat Experience
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