Thursday, December 17, 2009


We just returned from a dive holiday in the Galapagos Islands. We had planned for three years for this, and it was worth every penny spent, every moment of anguish as we came to terms with the fact that in this most sacred and inaccessible diving destination on the planet, I couldn’t dive. I say “we,” because I think it was almost as hard for Bev to see me standing at the rail of the dive boat, as it was for me, while she sped off in the zodiac to plunge into awesome currents and be surrounded by sea lions hell-bent on playing among the divers and fifteen-foot hammerhead sharks driven by curiosity (not hunger) to swim among them, checking them out. I had been preparing for this for years, picking up my scuba instructors certifications from PADI and SDI, the two leading dive associations, as well as logging five hundred dives. But last spring I experienced a lung problem while diving in the Saint Lawrence, and that, according to the doctors, was that.

So. Watching Bev dive was almost as good as doing it myself. Being with a group I have dived with for years was the continuation of an ongoing adventure. And topside, the Galapagos are a moving experience. We got to Wolf and Darwin, islands few people see because we were on a specially licensed boat. We walked among sea lions (huge seals with ears), so close you could literally bend over and touch the nursing pups (which we didn’t; only the three Russians attached to our group felt sufficiently entitled, despite park rules. The entire archipelago is a park). We chatted face to face with comical blue-footed boobies (like large sleek seagulls with personalities). And we admired the ancient tortoises on Santa Cruz before dining out in Puerto Ayora, a modern town of fifteen thousand so upscale we window-shopped to see what cruise ship customers buy.

Sometimes not doing something, hard as it may be, is an adventure in itself. I didn’t dive. I wrote wrote wrote. And watched. And looking at the instant replays on cameras, hearing the chatter of a dozen divers, keyed up before they went in, elated when they returned to the ship, it was almost like doing it myself. In fact, sitting here with snow outside the window, I’d swear I’d been face to face with hammerheads, less than a body’s length between us, only last week. No? Well, Bev was!