All posts by Carl

Santiago

Today we visited the Island of Santiago with excursions to James Bay and Buccaneer Cove. It is remarkable how different the islands are, one from the other. Our beach landing was greeted by the usual assortment of crabs and I was finally able to capture an image of a ghost crab which, as its name suggests, is rather illusive.

For all the 10 legged creatures on the beach there are an equal variety of 8-legged ones a bit further inland.

A short walk from our landing area and the shoreline changes dramatically, leaving no doubt about the island’s volcanic history.

Lava lizards and marine iguana share the rocky beaches with the crabs.

Pelicans are here in great numbers. They fly low over the water when in transit. Come time to hunt, they gain altitude and dive into the ocean. They target areas with many fish and catch them as they swim back to the surface.

The shore is also teaming with birdlife including the mocking bird and finch pictured below.

Practice has improved my underwater photography and I feel I have reached the limits of what my camera can produce.

All excursions to land are by way of our ships two Panga boats. Landings are either wet or dry dictating the type of footwear needed for disembarking. Other times, as was the case this afternoon after our visit to Buccaneer Cove, we use the Pangas to tour the coast line offering great views of the wildlife and their habitat.

Each time we return to the mother ship food is generally the first thing on everyone’s mind. The fare has been healthy, varied and quite yummy. Even though it seems like we are eating all the time, I am confident we are burning off at least as many calories as we are consuming.

Genovesa

Prince Phillip’s Steps on the island of Genovesa is home to a wonderful array of birds, none of which fear humans.

Photographing such fearless subjects was a breeze. Not so, catching them in flight.

We encountered a sea lion and her pup shortly after landing at Darwin Bay during our afternoon excursion. Park rules dictate that visitors maintain a 2m separation from the wildlife.  If not for that regulation, Maya would have snuggled her way into this family.


The sunset this evening was sublime and I found it a great background for the silhouette of a sailing ship that was anchored nearby.

Santiago / Bartolomé

This morning we have arrived at Santiago’s Sullivan Bay. When the rising sun disappeared behind a low cloud ceiling, it lit up the horizon in a way I have not seen before. Our first excursion had us exploring a relatively young lava flow where we learned a great deal about the vulcanism that created the Galapagos Islands.

Even amidst the seemingly desolate rock, animal and plant life can be found everywhere. Combined with the forces of erosion, these elements will eventually turn this island into a fertile oasis similar to others in the chain.

As we were preparing to return to the boat, our guided spotted several Galapagos Penguins hunting for breakfast.  They were quite far away but I did manage to capture a pair in mid flight.

After a nice snack it was time for snorkeling, a first for Maya. Despite being a little nervous, she took to it like an otter (little surprise). Together we enjoyed an endless parade of beautiful marine life.

I used an inexpensive underwater camera to capture what I could. Flash photography is prohibited throughout the park which made it rather difficult to do justice to the vibrant colors we observed. I wore my right contact lens only so I could spot with that eye and focus the camera with my left.  With all that in mind, I feel fortunate to have gotten the shots that I did.

After lunch and a siesta we visited Bartolomé where we hiked to the highest point of the island for an incredible vista.

The Galapagos

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. 

Quito

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.

Ecuador Bound

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.

Snapping Turtle

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.

All That Jazz

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 Graduate

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!

Graduation Party

Visiting for Maya’s graduation are her grandmother mother, Angela, aunt Lauren (who created the magnificently detailed and yummy treats above), aunt Susan (who fashioned a massive “CONGRATULATIONS” banner), aunt Alissa and uncle John, and brothers Kyle and Nicolai.  Her graduation party was held jointly with the Budris family and well attended by Maya and Sarinnagh’s close circle of friends.  Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw and a smattering of middle eastern appetizers were served in addition to a disproportionate amount of dessert treats. The weather cooperated allowing the kids to dine on the deck and play in the backyard.

Preparations

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.

Signing Ceremony

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.

Senior Awards Night

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.

Sand Mandala


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.

Last Meal

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.