Friday, June 28, 2013


I know you.

I've seen you with my friends.  I felt your presence when Pop left.  You were heavy and grey.  You were filled with the past.  You had drained the future.

You shift.  Your presence evolves and then recedes.  At times you inspire anger, at times you wrapped nostalgia gently around me.  I've seen you poke and prod.  I've felt you pull and pull and weigh heavily.

You stay as long as you do.  There's no rhyme or reason to it.  You are there until you're not.

Remove a "u" and you rise like dawn.  You fill the sky and change the quality of time.

You are there until you're not.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Galapagos Galloping: Tortuga Bay on Isla Santa Cruz

Hands down, my favorite spot in all of the Galapagos is Tortuga Bay on Isla Santa Cruz.  This is a public beach, open daily from 6 am - 6 pm.  Humans aren't permitted on the beach outside those hours to offer marine turtles uninterrupted opportunities to lay eggs and nest.  Parts of the beach are off limits when iguanas are nesting and laying eggs as well.

So great that the animals are offered such consideration.

A short walk out of the Santa Cruz's main drag brings you to the gatehouse to sign into the park.  You're afforded views like this:

From the gatehouse, you hike on a paved trail three miles to the beach.  There's no food or vendors on the beach, so you either hike with a picnic or go before or after lunch.  Close to the opening & closing hours tons of local runners jog up and down the path.

And then you reach the promised land.

 The sand feels like pancake batter.  So so soft.

These guys are just about everywhere.  The iguanas play on the lava rocks at the beach.  When they're ready, they swim into the surf to find some seaweed.  Afterwards, they lay sated in the sun.  The sun literally cooks the seaweed in them to digest.  No need to be afraid.  The most these guys will do is hiss.  I still gave them ample space-- I was but a guest in their home.

How to idle away a day?  A staring contest is a good start.  Kevin lost multiple rounds.

This cove had absolutely clear water.  Lots of folks bring their own snorkel gear.  That's fun & fine, but honestly, I didn't feel like it was necessary.  The lizards and minnows flit right past, easily visible through the clear water.

(Did I just freak you out by saying that you're swimming with lizards?  It's totally fine.  Wide berth.  Seriously, they grow on you.)

These guys are absurd.

We set up camp in the mangrove.  Ample shade, a place to hang my cover up, and soft sand while we lay and read.

Shade naps are the best.

When you look up, you can say "hi" to a finch.

Monday, June 24, 2013

There is. There will be.

There is a garden and food
grown from seeds and soil and
my hands in the sun and my body
rained on, saturated

There is fullness.  Growing, planting,
planning.  There are relationships and
community and sun and saturation

There is resistance.  Challenges (where
I question myself, my commitment,
my strength) that shape me and will
continue to define

For three decades
there is life.  There will be more life.  Until
there is not.  I don't know what the not looks
like or how near I have come.

I just stay there, in the space of growing
and building.  In death, I will grow
too.  There will be soil and I will be a
seed and my body will be rained
on and saturated.

There will be life.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Galapagos Galloping: San Cristobol

San Cristobal, Galapagos, is the land of sea lions who behave like drunks.  We took a boat for a day tour.  This is one of the islands where it's possible to rent a room and eat at restaurants.  On a future trip, I would stay on San Cristobal for a few days.

Galapagos sea lions behave like golden retrievers.  I counted 11 on these dock steps.

We drove inland and then to another beach, just ahead of a storm.

San Cristobal and Floreana were some of the more verdant islands.  This swamp was adjacent the beach.

February is a season of birthing and nursing on the Galapagos.  This sea lion pup was intent on nursing.

His mother finally relented.  (BTW we were seriously curious about where all these animal fathers could be found.  Was there some island off the map filled with papa sea lions, iguanas, frigates, etc?  Was it just trashed?  Seriously, we discovered that most papa sea lions were hunting.  I like our theory better.)

Boating away we caught this view of Kicker Rock.  We'd hoped to snorkel nearby but there was a conservation project in process that meant the area was off limits to tourists.  This is a common occurrence in the Galapagos.  Honestly, it's nice.  I'm glad that there are limits to tourist access and that significant attention is offered the land and animals.

We got plenty of snorkeling in as it was.  I nearly ran into a manta ray and Kevin swam with several marine turtles and a shark.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Savory travel

I believe in good food.

Of course, taste is subjective.  However, I know mine.  There are parts of the world that I would visit to witness landscape and experience culture, but, local cuisine knocks them further down the wish-to-visit list.  Other parts of the world that are more or less equally compelling in terms of physical beauty jump ahead because I know that as a vegetarian who wants everything drenched in lemon, I will be pleased.

I also believe in my clients eating well while traveling. Recently I created three possible experiences for a family that included a member who eats gluten-free & suffers from Crohn's disease.  After better assessing the client's hopes for this experience, we narrowed in parts of the world that aligned.  I did my follow-up due diligence & learned that Asheville, NC is one of the top U.S. cities for Gluten-free options.  Given this client's interests and travel style, we already knew she would have a cottage, cabin, or rental apartment with their own kitchen to cook some meals.  Thankfully, this option affords them plenty of eating out opportunities as well.

I'm also increasingly considering group travel with chefs.  I've been building several yoga retreats recently.  Some retreat destinations would present a challenge in offering students consistent vegan food, let alone gluten-free options.  Again, happily, I know several glorious plant-based chefs who are resourceful in artfully utilizing whatever ingredients meet them at a new market.  As I'm building some of these retreats and excursions, I'm bringing our own chef.

Eating locally with host chefs is a crucial part of an immersive experience, so that still has to be a part of any adventure.  However, if you're going to be somewhere for awhile, it's pretty great to have someone with you who gets it.  No big explanations on why fermented shark meat might not work for you.

Feeling bit by the travel bug?  My next group travel experience is the Salute the Sun Retreat to San Marcos, Guatemala.  A few spots remain for Week 2.  Sign up soon!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Galapagos Galloping: Floreana

To me, the reading list is essential for any adventure.  I want to do some research before arriving in a destination.  Upon arrival, I try to deepen my experience by reading works by local authors or books set in my destination.

I read Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos as I flew out to the islands.  Next, I picked up Margaret Wittmer's Floreana.  Wittmer emigrated from Germany to Floreana with her husband and step-son just a few years before World War II.  At the time of her arrival, the only other inhabitants were a vegetarian German dentist and his wife.  Over the years, a baroness of international acclaim settled on the island before a mysterious disappearance, and the Wittmer's were targeted by the Ecuadorian government for being potential Nazi sympathizers.  Floreana was a surprisingly compelling read, so I was really excited to visit the land that had harbored such intriguing humans and their stories!

But first, we must be greeted by the wild life.

There are maybe one or two hotels and perhaps one or two restaurants.  This is a one road kinda town.  It gets better as you venture towards the interior.

Had to visit with the sea lion and iguana first.

As we ascended to the shaded highlands (and a seriously distinct climate from the shoreline) we were greeted by mating turtles in the wild.  They were busy.  We moved on and gave them privacy.

This guy was unattached.

The Wittmers settled in the highlands where you're likely to stumble across some magical flowers dangling from the canopy.  There was a rare and valued fresh water source.  (So valued that pirates had constructed defense structures around the water!).  In this region, farmers can cultivate European crops.  Closer to the shore, tropical crops are grown.

The Wittmer's home.  Their children still live in the region.  Their daughter operates the farm and their son has a very large tourist operation.

I guess largely uninhabited islands inspire some creativity.  Heinz Wittmer carved this face near the fresh water source.  Archeologists later thought it was proof that Incans had reached the Galapagos.  Most scholars believe that they did reach the Galapagos, but they didn't carve that.

Floreana is one of the most beautiful islands.

Black beach is near Post Office Bay.  A lone barrel stood out in the cove for years while pirates & sailors dropped off messages.  If the message was addressed where the ship was headed, or at least in a similar direction, they took it.  The mail didn't move quickly, but remarkably, most mail did reach it's intended recipient!

Back at shore, the gangs still here!

And fiercely guarded by their iguana security detail.