Maya and I woke up at 4:15AM to catch an early flight to Guayaquil en route to Baltra Island where our Galapagos adventure is set to begin. During the flight it was hard to decide which view was more impressive, the one from above the clouds or from below.
When we arrived in the Galapagos we were met by our guide and introduced to the other 14 guests that we will be sharing a catamaran with for the next week; a family of 8, a family of 3 plus boyfriend and one couple.
We were underway in no time and Maya was quick to assume the Titanic pose as we set off for Las Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz.
Our first wildlife encounter (not counting seabirds) was with the Sally Lightfoot Crab. There must have been ten thousand of them covering the rocks on the beach. The second photo is of two crabs in the process of making more crabs.
Next our guide spotted several Marine Iguanas. It was an exciting way to start our voyage.
For Caleb: Maya has coerced the other guests on the ship to relinquish their complimentary postcards so that she may write you daily. Below she is in the process of writing the first.
Our flight to Ecuador took longer than expected when a weather delay out of Boston caused us to miss our connection in Panama. The weather in Quito, by contrast, was exceptional despite a forecast for rain all day. Maya and I did a walking tour of Quito’s Old Town covering 6.5 miles before stopping for a late lunch. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at our posh hotel, quite likely our last taste of luxury for the balance of the trip. The Basílica del Voto Nacional, pictured below was one of our favorite destinations. My fear of heights prevented me from joining Maya who bravely climbed what amounts to open scaffolding to reach the spires of the church for an unsurpassed view of the city. I was content to photograph her from the ground.
The inside of the church was impressive by any standard but it did not hold a candle to the interior of La Compania whose entire interior is virtually covered in gold leaf, seven tons of it by some estimates. Regrettably, no photographs were permitted there.
Making good use of our guide book we took in the most famous sights of the city including, Plaza Grande, Plaza Santo Domingo, Plaza San Francisco, Plaza del Teatro, several churches in addition to those already mentioned, Museo de la Ciudad, and the magnificent Colonial era buildings in the La Ronda district.
Maya’s feet at the end of the day bear witness to the distance we covered. Note to Jeanine: your daughter, of her own volition, washed these before turning in for the night.
Maya and I began our 3 week adventure in Ecuador today to celebrate her graduation from high school. We travel first to Quito, where my mother was born, by way of Panama City. I am half Ecuadorian and Maya one quarter so this journey will be something of an exploration of our family heritage. I will try to update the blog during our travels when access to wi-fi permits.
Senator Jamie Eldridge presented Jeanine with a Senate citation to Open Table for their “Excellence in Collaboration” nomination by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. Joining her yesterday at the State House for the ceremony was her sister Lauren who returned to Indianapolis later in the day.
Jeanine spotted a large common snapping turtle in our backyard this morning. Wisely, she kept Nala on her rope. These prehistoric creatures, as their name suggests, can inflict a very nasty bite and should be given a wide berth. This fellow looked to be somewhere in the 30-40 pound range.
Jeanine, her sister Lauren, the boys plus Karuna and I ventured downtown to Concord Center where we enjoyed the inaugural Middlesex Jazz Festival. A light rain forced an early end to the music but we were there long enough to conclude that we will be very happy to see the festival return next year. The adults enjoyed ice cream as an appetizer to a Chinese dinner at Chang An with the kids who decided that a trip to Kimball Farm after supper would be a better way to enjoy a frozen treat.
Earlier in the day my soccer team won a critical match (2-1) moving us into a tie for first place in division 1 and clinching a berth in the post season playoffs. After the game, I announced that I would be moving up to the over-56 league for the fall season and that I had just played my last match with the team since I would be traveling with Maya in Ecuador for our final three games of the season. I was moved by the kind words and well wishes from my teammates. I took solace in the fact that all will be joining me on the over-56 squad in due time.
The high school years are officially behind us now. Maya graduated from Concord Carlisle High School this morning with high honors and an engineering certificate. Jeanine and I are ready for the next chapter in our lives but, I for one, was more than a little sad at the same time. A full set of photos from the day can be found here.
I can’t wait to see how our little powerhouse will change the world!
A busy day as preparations for Maya’s graduation party were in full tilt. Caleb was an enormous help throughout the day demonstrating great aptitude in the kitchen and lending a hand when the building materials for Maya’s tiny house arrived.
Maya and Caleb moved all the sheet goods from the driveway into the garage, while Kyle and I handled all of the lumber and insulation. At this point the building materials occupy the better part of a full car bay.
A year plus ordeal to find Open Table a permanent home reached closure yesterday when Jeanine signed the Purchase and Sale Agreement to acquire their new facility in Maynard. There still remains much work to complete the move and transition the organization but this was a major milestone and marks a new chapter in the Open Table story.
Jeanine and I attended Senior Awards Night this evening with Maya who received awards in English, Science, and Sociology. She was most excited, however, when presented with a gold sash, to be worn during graduation, signifying her completion of the Engineering Certificate program. Mom and dad were awfully proud.
The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. The intention is to focus the mind towards a peaceful aspiration prayer. Once completed, the Sand Mandala is ritualistically dismantled to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. Regrettably, our visit to the Drikung Meditation Center today overlapped with the lunch break of the the Venerable Lama Konchok Sonam and the Venerable Khenpo Choephel who are creating this work of art. Hopefully we can find time for a second visit to witness the creation process and/or the dissolution ceremony.
For almost a year now we have been treated to exotic Sunday dinners prepared by our nephew John who has been living with us since graduating from Babson last year. Working from Jeanine’s cookbooks and with some initial guidance from her, he has become a very accomplished cook. Sadly, for us, he has located an apartment closer to his job and compatible roommates to share it with. We are certainly going to miss John when he leaves.